What's on my mind.

30 December 2008

PSA for sales clerks

Acknowledging a costumer's existence can increase your sales.

Will you forgive me a mini-rant? I hope so, because I'm going to do it anyway. Customer service SUCKS in this town (maybe everywhere). Latest example:

Last night I went to Belks to look at shoes. Now, I'm not even sure they carry much in my size but I thought I'd try, since they are now the biggest bestest department store in town (Sears' shoe dept is very small; Penny's hardly carries anything in my size and was a sucky dept with rude service last time I looked, about 8 years ago.) So I look around a few minutes and start picking up shoes. One associate passes as he's putting shoes back in the displays, I think he said "hi". I end up with 4 shoes in my hand that I want to try on and want to ask if s/he can bring out anything similar in my size. (I know it's asking a lot of a clerk to have some idea of their stock but hey, why not try?) I stood about 4 feet back and to the side of the register counter and a couple of feet from a row of chairs, facing the register, attempting to make eye contact with a sales clerk. One is ringing up a sale, one put up a couple of shoes on the other half of the dept but mostly stood at the contour, the other two are putting shoes up, straightening up, etc. One of them looks at me, no eye contact, walks on, offers to help another customer, puts the shoe(s) where they belong, and returns to the counter. I stood there for several minutes in total. I put the shoes in a chair and said, mostly to myself, 'if they don't want to sell me shoes, fine I don't need buy shoes,' and leave the store. BTW, this was at approximately 5:15 (no where near closing time) and there were six-eight people in the non-"selfserve" part of the dept, only one of whom was actually trying on shoes while I was there. (Clearance shoes are stacked on tables.)

Maybe I've missed a change in how one suppose to get a shoe department associate's attention? Am I now suppose to walk into the stock room myself? Hit a clerk over the head with a shoe to get his attention? The stand near counter and/or chairs with shoes in hand has always worked before. Needless to say it will be awhile before I hit up thier shoe department again.

29 December 2008

Loot!

Ok, I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of my second knitting project -part of Nettie's take Thursday morning:



Since the first bag didn't quite come out right I did another. This one was with a narrower yarn so it took a little longer to knit. I didn't decrease fast enough and the flap is a little bit longer than the front of the bag. I also had to block the flap to try and get it into a nice triangle (when I realized how long it was going to be I changed the decrease rate and it was, predictably, a little lopsided). This yarn felted faster with less fuzzing. I wonder if the yarn weight was a factor in that? Less time in the washer probably helped with the fuzzing and lint knots. I knit it tighter in general which means it shrank less, too.

You really can't tell but I knitted the front (under the flap) in a checkerboard pattern which looked 'eh' before felting* but turned out pretty nice afterward; You can't see it but you can feel the texture. I like felting. It hides minor mistakes like dropped stitches - the holes just close right up.

And just because she's so cute:

Honey sporting her new 'outfit'. (The harness - let's see her back herself out of that.)

*Not sure why. It looks good in my practice yarn. Maybe my tension and stitch length varied too much? I screwed up more on my stitch counting than I thought?

22 December 2008

The camera adds 10lbs

Right? Or 20? Or 30? Do I really look like that*?

For those of you who don't know me IRL, I'm in the blue.
Photo is from the office Christmas party, by Pat O'Neil




*I think I've asked this before or at least commented that I see in the mirror the doesn't look at all like pictures of me. I'm always shocked when I see a picture of myself.

Weekend Accomplishments


There's both Pumpkin (from a box) and Banana Nut (scratch) in there for various people's Christmas's. (Poor Honu-Girl, she won't get hers today.) There was a big loaf of each for the office but they are almost eaten now. Nettie and I made some sugar cookies, too, but they went home with her. BTW, Fannie Farmer's sugar cookie recipe (it's about the first cookie recipe in the chapter) is drop cookies only; way too soft to roll out.

This only took a few minutes:

My little ornament tree. You can't really see in this picture but I also have three silver snowflake/star ornaments, too. I hung them on the window in the background for the picture but moved them to their traditional location on the bay window afterward. (and then closed the blinds on that window again, it admits no light this time of year but sucks the heat out!)

18 December 2008

America-centric?

Let's put some numbers to this America-centric charge of the 100 things list in my last post.

First List:Items 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 17 give examples of geological feature (10/10) in the NA which can, most likely, also be found elsewhere in the world. Twenty-seven of the items on the first list are North America specific locations (total of 34 specific places); 14 of them are for geological features that may be seen on another continent (IDK if they are); for an additional 8 I'm not sure why we are 'suppose' to visit the locations so I don't know if they are truly unique geologically or just happen to be good examples of something that could be found somewhere else.

Bently List: Of the 45 specific places listed, 13 are in North America (3 in Alaska alone!). Off the top of my head that seems like a reasonable share considering the amount of land we're covering. For the geological features and activities he list examples in North America for ten of them (55 total, 11 with example locations) and most have non-American examples as well.

So both lists offer examples of geologic features in North America with or without non-NA examples. Bently clearly lists many more non-US places a geologist should visit. I think the America-centrism critic of the original meme may stem from many of the specific locations are in the US even though the geologic feature may be found elsewhere. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I'm willing to believe the original author simply gave examples he was most familiar with.

That said I think I like the Bently list better. It lists specific places of geological importance and then geological features. By separating them he avoids the danger of an over abundance of American locations making the list and stress that while a geological feature may be well repreesented in a given place it almost certainly exists in locations around the world. It also means that those of us who haven't traveled much (at least not yet) don't feel completely left out.

In the end, it's just a way to fill a post. (I've managed to make two posts out of it. :P) To find a true geologist life time 100 list we'd have to get geologists all over the world to submit suggestions of both locations and features and then figure out which were the most common and even then there would be arguements. Because everyone will have a different opinion of what one MUST do/see.

What haven't I done?

Lots.

A meme zinging around the geoblogosphere asks "what have you seen?" (I've bolded all the I've done/seen.)
1. See an erupting volcano
2. See a glacier
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta.
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage
6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia)
7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile.
8. Explore a subsurface mine.
9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (if on a budget, try the Coast Ranges or Klamath Mountains of California).
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there's some anorthosite in southern California too).
11. A slot canyon. Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw.
12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere. [hand sample only]
13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada.
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland.
15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate.
16. A gingko tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic. [near my office, god the fruit stinks]
17. Living and fossilized stromatolites (Glacier National Park is a great place to see fossil stromatolites, while Shark Bay in Australia is the place to see living ones)
18. A field of glacial erratics
19. A caldera
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high [Great Sand Dune National Park]
21. A fjord
22. A recently formed fault scarp
23. A megabreccia
24. An actively accreting river delta
25. A natural bridge
26. A large sinkhole [Lake Jackson, Florala, Alabama - largest sinkhole in the state]
27. A glacial outwash plain
28. A sea stack
29. A house-sized glacial erratic
30. An underground lake or river
31. The continental divide
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals [got a set one time as a present]
33. Petrified trees
34. Lava tubes
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back. [haven't been to the bottom]
36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as the Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible
37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world.
38. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16m)
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale.
40. The Banded Iron Formation, Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe. [samples only]
41. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania,
42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, to see the deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water.
43. Ayers Rock (known now by the Aboriginal name of Uluru), Australia. This inselberg of nearly vertical Precambrian strata is about 2.5 kilometers long and more than 350 meters high
44. Devil's Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing.
45. The Alps.
46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. From this spectacular summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley - 11,330 feet below.
47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art
48. The Dalmation Coast of Croatia, to see the original Karst.
49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge.
50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders.
51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck
52. Land's End, Cornwall, Great Britain, for fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist.
53. Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, to see the Straights of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America.
54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism.
55. The Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows.
56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa.
57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic "horn".
58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain
59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington
60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the "father" of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity
61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
62. Yosemite Valley
63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah [maybe, but I'm not sure]
64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia [samples only]
65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington
66. Bryce Canyon
67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone
68. Monument Valley [again, I don't remember everywhere we went that summer]
69. The San Andreas fault
70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain
71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands
72. The Pyrennees Mountains
73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand
74. Denali (an orogeny in progress)
75. A catastrophic mass wasting event
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)
78. Barton Springs in Texas
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho
80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado
81. The Tunguska Impact site in Siberia
82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0.[only a 3.5]
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil)
85. Find gold, however small the flake
86. Find a meteorite fragment
87. Experience a volcanic ashfall
88. Experience a sandstorm
89. See a tsunami
90. Witness a total solar eclipse
91. Witness a tornado firsthand. [thank God, no]
92. Witness a meteor storm, a term used to describe a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower
93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope.
94. See the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights.
95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per century
96. See a lunar eclipse
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope
98. Experience a hurricane
99. See noctilucent clouds
100. See the green flash

Apparently there were some complaints that it is US-centric so Callan Bently wrote up a slightly different one:
Specific places
  1. Visit the Chalk (England, France, Ireland...) [I've seen the Selma chalk]
  2. Visit Iceland
  3. Visit Mt. Fuji, Japan
  4. Visit Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  5. Visit the Himalayas (Kashmir?)
  6. the Tibetan Plateau
  7. Visit the Gobi Desert
  8. Visit the Sahara Desert
  9. Visit the Sonoran Desert (for the saguaros)
  10. Visit the Atacama Desert
  11. Visit the Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter)
  12. Visit Beijing or Shanghai (for the perspective on what really dirty air looks like)
  13. Visit the big island of Hawai'i
  14. Visit Yellowstone
  15. Visit the Galapagos Islands
  16. Visit Madagascar (for the lemurs)
  17. Visit Patagonia
  18. Visit the Andes
  19. Visit the Alps
  20. Visit the Canadian Rockies
  21. Visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska (and/or neighboring Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory)
  22. Visit Denali, Alaska
  23. Visit the Aleutian Islands
  24. Visit Chimborazo, Ecuador (furthest point from the center of the Earth, due to the equatorial bulge)
  25. Visit Antarctica
  26. Visit the Siberian Traps
  27. Visit the Deccan Traps
  28. Visit the Columbia River flood basalt province
  29. Visit Sumatra/Krakatau/Java, Indonesia
  30. Visit the South Island of New Zealand
  31. Visit the Appalachians
  32. Visit the Dead Sea
  33. Visit the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
  34. Visit the Great Rift Valley of East Africa
  35. Visit the Nile River
  36. Visit the Mississippi River
  37. Visit the Amazon River
  38. Visit the Grand Canyon
  39. Visit the Owens Valley, California (or anywhere in the Basin & Range, but the Owens Valley is pretty darned special, and geologically diverse)
  40. Visit Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada (walk on the "Moho")
  41. Visit Siccar Point, Scotland (for the unconformity)
  42. Visit Gibraltar, "UK"
  43. Visit Vesuvius, Pompei, and the Pompei-to-be, Naples
  44. Visit Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia
  45. Visit the Moon
Geological features
  1. A tectonic triple junction (Mendocino, CA is an example, or northern Burma, or Panama)
  2. Tower karst (Guilin, China, or southwestern Thailand are examples)
  3. A regional flood
  4. A flash flood
  5. Ediacaran fauna fossils in situ (possibilities include the type locality of the Ediacaran Hills in Australia, or Charnwood Forest in England, the White Sea region in Russia, or maybe the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland)
  6. Vertebrate fossils in situ
  7. Visiting a laggerstatten site (Burgess Shale, Chenjiang, Sirius Passet, Solnhofen?)
  8. An alpine glacier
  9. A continental glacier (ice cap or ice sheet)
  10. A kimberlite pipe (preferably with diamonds, and good luck with that) [in Arkansas]
  11. A coral atoll (take your pick)
  12. A meteor impact crater (not a buried one, either)
  13. A big river delta (Mississippi, Ganges, Nile, or any of the dozens of others)
  14. Barrier islands (Padre Island, Texas, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina come to mind, but I'm sure there are others on other continents)
  15. A craton (Canadian shield, Kaapvaal, North China, etc. etc. etc.)
  16. A big estuary (Cook Inlet, Chesapeake Bay, Bay of Fundy: all North American examples. Give me some others)
  17. See some karst.
  18. Kayak (or other boat) through a fjord.
  19. See a dropstone.
  20. See an ophiolite.
  21. Visit a major stike-slip fault (San Andreas in USA/Mexico, or North Anatolian in Turkey, or Tan Lo (sp?) in China)
  22. Visit a nappe or thrust sheet (Glarus Thrust in the Alps, Chief Mountain/Glacier NP in Montana, Blue Ridge in Virginia/North Carolina)
  23. Visit a really big cave (Mammoth, Lechugilla, or some other that I don't know about on another continent)
Activities and experiences
  1. A world-class natural history museum (London Museum of Natural History, American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History all come to mind.)
  2. Meeting of a classic scientific society (Royal Society, Explorers Club, Cosmos Club...)
  3. Do some original research.
  4. Present your research at a meeting of other scientists.
  5. Publish your research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  6. Visit an original copy of "map that changed the world" (William Smith's geologic map of England, Wales, and part of Scotland)
  7. Experience a big earthquake (greater than 5.0 sounds like as good a cut-off as any)
  8. Experience a volcano erupting something other than gases (lava, pyroclastics)
  9. Go ice fishing (or just out onto a frozen lake/pond/sea/ocean and ponder the improbable nature of ice and how it freezes from the top down, preserving the living things underneath, like fish. Without this odd property, it would be tough to maintain life in our high-latitude/elevation lakes/etc. through the winter months.)
  10. Compare and contrast El Nino and La Nina.
  11. Go on an oceanographic research cruise for more than two weeks at sea.
  12. Experience a hurricane/typhoon/cyclone (preferably with surviving it as a caveat)
Oringinal list 24/100, Bently list 16/100 for those counting. I obviously have a way to go.

Just desserts

Last night I was watching "Life in the Undergrowth" on the Science Channel (one of my preview channels this month!). I love David Attenbourgh and last night was no exception.

They were talking about bugs, or more properly land-dwelling arthropods. There were some great slow-motion shoots of dragonflies (they beat their wings separately, cool huh?) and flies landing upside-down; Sir David jumping when the spider jumped out of his lair to ambush the stick; some wasp larva considering hitching a ride on his finger; really cool larva that light up the roof of a cave and catch flies in their silken snares... The standard great photography I've come to expect from nature shows all with Attenbourgh's calm, comforting voice. But the best bit was the cicadas.

They featured the 17-year cicadas of the eastern US. There was a brood a couple of years ago and one the summer I was between 6th and 7th grade. The larva come up out of the group starting in late spring and they don't really start dying, IIRC, until late summer. And, if you have the wrong trees (or right depending on your precpective) in your area they are EVERYwhere. And they are LOUD, at least the males. And bad fliers, and they will, briefly, fly without heads, which makes them even worse fliers. Did I mention they are everywhere and loud? Sorry, back to the film...

So, they've got a male relatively isolated on a branch while Attenbourgh explains his call (loud buzzing) and the female's response, which is a click that can be replicated by snapping one's fingers. Of course he demonstrates this. Then he uses snapping his fingers to get the male to walk along the branch (thinking he's on his way to a hot date). The bug goes left, then he makes the bug turn around, only this slightly back fires. The male flies over and lands on Sir David's ear, buzzing the whole time. Attenbourgh was obviously not prepared to have a the thing walk around on his head, much less buzz in his ear; he's desperately snapping by the twig while grimacing and trying to keep up the narration. The male finally decides that his date is on the twig and flies back. The crew leave him to find a real mate.

That folks is what happens when you tease a desperate male cicada - you get one of the disgusting things crawling on you when you cannot simply squash it.

11 December 2008

Sucess, sort of.

As threatened here are some more pictures of my first real knitting project.
Here's the early stage I posted before:


I forgot to take a photo of the finished knit piece before sewing. A question for any knitters out there - is it normal for the edges to roll in (towards purl side) or did I do something wrong? (pull the end stitches too tight?)

All sewn up, pre-felting:


Post felting and in need of a hair cut since there was some lint in the washer:


All done:

I learned that the item shrinks more lengthwise than widthwise, and if I'd thought about it that would have been obvious (it started out 'looser' lengthwise). But that meant that my nicely proportioned triangular flap became almost not big enough to fold over. Oops. So a partial success; it will still be given as a present because I'm not sure I have time to make another better one.

Now I'm trying to master vertical ribbing and figure out how to do a checkerboard pattern. I have to go to Virginia Monday and back on Wednesday so I should have lots of time to practice when the boss is driving.

And because she's just so darn cute - Q-tip sleeping in my suitcase

It's a box and it smells like Mom!

09 December 2008

Context?

Because my brain is currently on strike, I thought I'd provide some context to my Gtalk tag today.

Zales has an add running (a lot) right now that says "Love Rocks" this holiday season...It took me three or four viewings before I realized that they mean it as a noun-verb exclamation I kept, and keep, hearing it as a verb-noun imperative (i.e. love is awesome not you must like rocks now!) because really, everyone should love rocks this holiday season and every season.

08 December 2008

Sighting

Yesterday I went to Hilaritas and was reminded that faux-hawk girl is a violinist. I haven't seen her lately, possibly since last year's Hilaritas, but she used to have a class near my office and I see her ever week or two. Her hair is a bit silly looking but it also inspires a bit of awe. It is amazing that she gets her hair to do this. I wasn't sure I could properly explain it so I tried drawing it. This is the best I could do:


(see why I'm not an artist?)

The faux-hawk (as Honu-Girl and I christianed this 'do) has near vertical sides. I've never gotten a good look at it from behind so I'm not sure what happens at the back. I'm really don't know how she gets her hair to do this. Maybe she has some oddly geometric deformity on her skull?

I'm a bad person, because her goofy (IMHO) hair gave me a smile when Nettie had been annoying me with her impateince (why can't we just go sit down???), and why do we have to wait for Mom and Dad (because I have the tickets) and where M&D were (on their way), and why isn't your phone working (IDK, it's AT&T's problem) and are they waiting in the lobby for us even though it was after the 3* and would they think to check at will-call for their tickets (uh, yes because they're not stupid)...OMG, relax child, it will be ok, it'll work out, CHILL!

P.S. I should add that I've seen a similar hair do on a girl with "black" hair. It looked equally silly but I could understand how it was achieved with coarse textured hair.


*When we finally went in to our seats there was some girl (college age, I guess) sitting in my seat. When I said "excuse me that's my seat, # 27," she says "but I'm in 27, too." She was in seat 27 row D, not 27 M. I pointed this out to her and she says "well where's that?". "Somewhere up front, about the 4th row". Has she never sat in assisgned theater seats before? I guess that is possible. The ticket said "MN FLR D 27" and underneath that "section row seat", is it really difficult to figure out seating assignments?

05 December 2008

Ramblings, part infinity

I have half a rant about science literacy (inspired by Chad); a half a post to parallel Honu Girl; a exasperated rant about Ellen getting in an accident and the other lady not getting a ticket for an expired license (everyone was OK, cars are a bit bent up); and a ramble about psych meds, their effect on me, my ambivalence about taking them forever, why I wish I'd gone on the field trip this year but it's probably just as well I didn't because being on the edge of completely falling apart is SO attractive (or just makes me retreat to the point of being effectively invisible*). But all I want to do is crawl under the covers and stay there for, like, forever. (Yay, for a week of half-doses!)


*This artist does pretty well at urban-camo but visually blending in really necessary for being invisible.

04 December 2008

Wha?

I agree with i09 - someone is missing the point.
"There's really no beer like it because it uses 100 per cent barley. Our top seller is the Black Label brand, using additional ingredients such as rice. This one doesn't, and is really a special beer," said Junichi Ichikawa, managing directory for strategy at Sapporo Breweries.(Telegragh.co.uk)
Okay, I don't really now how much a difference there is in barley beer versus other grain beers (although my nephew tried some rice beer once and didn't like it at all) but I'll except that an all barley beer is special. The thing is the really special part of the beer is:
Sapporo Breweries, one of Japan's major breweries, went on to use the crop of barley grown in space to create 100 litres of a 5.5 per cent proof beer ­ aptly named Space Barley.
I've never developed a taste for beer (besides liquor is quicker;)) but I think I'd have to drink a glass (bottle/can/pint/whatever) of Space Barley. It's made from SPACE BARLEY, how could I resist?

This could be one way for the space station to offset it's maintenance costs. Although to be commercial they'd need a lot more room for crops.

03 December 2008

Turning Off Inner-Geologist - Fail

Many of the pictures I took at the beach were geology related. Here are the best:
The nearly pure quartz sands of the Alabama coast. It's squeaky clean!

Funny true story: One summer my folks rented a place at Virginia Beach for a few days and my older siblings came, too. One of my then sister-in-laws actually tip-toed across the sand because it was "dirty". She'd only been to the sugar sand beaches of Alabama and Florida before, she apparently thought all those feldspars and heavy minerals were dirt.


Ripples

Future trace fossils? Bird tracks Crab borrow


rain drop impressions with human tracks



Future fossils? Shell hash at the high tide line.

Knitting Project #1

I am so excited about this. I can't really explain why, either. I'm making a little bag* for Nettie for Christmas. First off I found some really pretty yarn.

And the knitting is going easily. Except I couldn't find the end of the skein inside the ball so it's not pulling out all nice and easy, I keep having to unwind the ball as I go. My plan is to make a rectangle about twice as long as it is wide, then decrease the stitches from both ends to make a triangular end. I'll fold the rectangle in half and sew it up with the triangle for a flap (with a snap closure added later). Then I'm going to felt it!

Like I said, I'm unreasonably excited about the project. I'll post pictures when I'm finished.


*Like a comsetic's bag or for odds and ends in her backpack or something, it'll be about 4"x4" when I'm done.

01 December 2008

Monthly Reports SUCK!

Particularly when the contract came back 3 workdays before the end of the month but you have to make it look like you did something on the project because 2 people are charging a week and a half to it (the contract was signed 10/30). I really suck at saying nothing in 50 words or more. The worst part is that one of the things to fill in on the report is "significance of the work" - so when I get some data I can put it straight into the model? Because eventually we'll have data to evaluate but we have to wait on everyone else to send us their data?...Oh, and Wednesday I get to have a conference call about the all the (non)work I've accomplished* (and all the other research partners) that'll last about an hour. ARGH. My boss is in Spain for all of this -yay for him.

So, while I rack my brain for better ways to say 'nada' here's what I did for Thanksgiving:



Yes, that is my little sister going swimming in the northern Gulf of Mexico the morning of November 29th. If I'd had my suit, I'd have been in there, too**. We had gorgeous weather until Saturday afternoon, when it started raining. And Dad only tried to kill us once while driving.:)



*on this project, I've done lots on another project. I'm glad I now have something else to do than rename files and calibrate rasters.
**The forecast had said upper 60s to low 70s for the high so I didn't pack my swimsuit, but it felt much warmer, like well in the 70s maybe even 80 Friday afternoon.
I'd've also had to shave my legs. It has been a long time since I even planned on going swimming based leg hair.

25 November 2008

Visitor

While I wait for a software quote I thought I'd introduce the latest visitor to my home:

I first met him last week when I opened the dishwasher and he fell in (from under the edge of the counter). I'd much rather have an American anole (commonly called chameleons) drop into the dish washer than and American cockroach (which has happened a time or two - can we say dishwasher run half full?). Sunday night he was hanging out on the dog's water dish; I advised him to sit still because the cats* (following me in hopes I might accidentally open a can of tuna and drop it on the floor) would love to chase him. Last night he decided the clean clothes were a good place to hang out and he was still there this morning. I think he thinks he blends in.




*speaking of the cats - I must be well loved, there were TWO field mice on the porch last night. Not nearly as much meat as the dove a couple of months ago but presented with just as much love.

21 November 2008

A performer, really?


I've been lurking on some geo-blogs for the last few weeks and today Silver Fox has a post about Typealyzer. It is suppose to figure out your "type", similar to the Meyer-Briggs. Apparently I'm an ESFP, a Performer:
The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.
They don't know me too well, do they? I most definitely don't live in the preset moment (always thinking to much to notice it). I adore planning ahead (and/or obsessing about the past). I'm rarely at risk of exhausting myself (my favorite hobby is napping). I do like helping people but it's not my career. I do avoid conflict (like the plague!) and don't want to move into management but not because of the confrontation issue - it's all the paperwork and other BS. My boss spends probably half his time doing non-geology stuff. His boss doesn't do hardly any actual geology anymore, just administrative stuff that allows the rest of us to do geology.

Good thing I don't put a whole lot of stock in these types of tests. They can be useful but only if you recognize their limitations and weaknesses. (If you want more on the subject talk to my mother, the educational psychologist.) At least the makers of this analyzer admit that it only tests what you write and suggest that you use it to think about how you write.

19 November 2008

Alabama Geology 101

Yesterday I actually got to go out and look at some real rocks. (Wo0t!1!) I took a bunch of pictures so of which were actually geological in nature. I thought I'd share a few to give my far-flung readers an idea of what it is like doing field work in Alabama.

First off, it was chilly (around 40°F/4.5C); although it wasn't so bad since I could do my work wearing real gloves and a hat didn't seem weird, as opposed to being in the office where I can only wear half-finger gloves to type and wearing my hat seems a bit of overkill.* It was almost nice in the sun for a little while. And it isn't nearly as bad as it can be (it is Alabama after all). Heck it was WAY nicer than field work in August and there's less foliage to deal with. Procuring lunch can be difficult is some areas. Ashville has a relatively new Mexican restaurant (in the shopping center with Ashville Drug, towards the interstate) that was pretty good. It is definitely a positive addition to the area. And to be fair, we were looking for shale outcrops in the 'mushwad'^, so large fresh exposures don't exist.

First stop was the longest and highest (3-5 feet tall by 160-180 feet long or 1-1.65 m by 56-60m), here's a representative picture:

It was a little too sunny for good pictures. There's a mylonitic zone right where my boss is looking about where the shadow starts. The contrast between sun and shade is almost too much to make zone visible in pictures.

Second stop was in the ditch on the side of a road:

This outcrop is about 1 foot high and 2.5 feet long (.3m high and .75m long).


Here are my co-workers take a strike and dip. The book is to even out and extend the tiny bit of rock sticking out of the weathered material. It doesn't give you much room to work with though. This outcrop does have the advantage that every few years the county will come and scrap it out potentially and temporarily creating better exposure.

Third stop by the railroad, very interesting, very complex:

We could spend days just getting data from this stop but it might give some clues to the internal structures of the mushwad.

Fourth stop by the railroad tracks further down, yay for resistant beds:

We tried to get a strike while the train went by but that amount of steel completely screwed up the compass. So all we could do was count cars until it passed.

The fifth outcrop we went looking for has been sodded over by the highway department. DOT is one out the best outcrop makers in Alabama (probably throughout the SE) and in Alabama we can stop and look at the rocks (in VA that's not allowed). Unfortunately the DOT doesn't appreciate the need to keep outcrops free of trees and bushes and likes to (at least try) to grass over rocks. They also have a tendency to shotcrete less competent strata - gunite running parallel to bedded - likely shale, gunite at high angle to bedding - likely fault, gunite over the entire outcrop - g@ddamn engineers, the secrets of the Birmingham anticlinorium could be hidden behind that.


*Actually, right now the system seems to working and it's comfortable. This may or may not last.
^area of thick structurally complex Conasuaga

14 November 2008

What is Normal, Anyway?

As early as Tuesday I was trying to think of something to do this weekend. Not go to the park or should I clean type stuff (Evening game rules out the park Sat. and I always need to clean.) but something around other people, people not related to me. Something normal 30-somethings do - whatever that is. I think I've mentioned this before but every once and a while I really really want to not be by myself. Unfortunately being alone while surrounded by people is extremely depressing, so as much as I'd like to go out I don't want to just as much. Here's a list of options:
Go to a bar - have to time that one really close, too early and the dance floor's too empty (or the band hasn't even started) and I leave before I can get tipsy enough to get on the dance floor and have fun.
Dance (Sat) - been there not done that; I just can't bring myself to go alone.
Spend the weekend with Mal and his crew, the Epps brothers, and other people with the script writers on their side.

Well, I'm going to toss the cat out, let the dog in, and turn on the TV.

07 November 2008

Ladies, can we talk?

So no one had an opinion about voter registration fraud, huh? Well, I have another question and PSA for teh interweebs today: Why don't women wear appropriately supportive undergarments while exercising?

Many mornings I pass a group of city cops jogging. Twice now I've passed one youngish woman who could really use a more supportive bra. Both times I've thought 'ow ow ow' with each step I witness. Then last night CBS 42 did a segment on a woman who has lost 105 pounds over the last two years by taking up running (and some other exercise) and eating right. And that's awesome and inspiring and all but OMG does she need better sports bras. They had several shots of her jogging and I thought it looked a little painful. Then they had her finishing a 5k and that bounce was even worse. It looked like she was wearing reasonably supportive bras in the shots of her in everyday/work clothes. Why was she running in a bra that left her boobs near her waist? Does it not hurt to bounce that much? Is it just the cost of a good bra? I don't understand. I can't trot down the stairs in my pjs without an arm across my chest, I can't imagine running five kilometers (approx. 3 miles) like that.

Where I taught, there were several students who needed more than a Walmart sports bra could offer. (This was obvious during volleyball, never mind basketball.) I brought it up one day with several and I happened to have an equestrian catalog* with me and showed them a bra that is designed for high impact activities for all (offered) cup sizes. They choked on the $50 price. I mentioned some other catalogs/websites that have a wide selection of sports bras, with no takers. It probably didn't help that the English teacher/assistant coach simply suggested wear up to 3 bras at once which is what she sometimes did**.

Part of the problem is that some woman aren't wearing the right cup size to begin with. Part of the problem is that one style bra may be appropriate for high impact for an A or B cup but only good for moderate impact for a C or D and light impact for Es and above. So if you go to the store and they have a bra marked high impact and think you're good or that that is as good as it gets for a D - but it's not. I get a couple of catalogs that rate sports bras and if a style's bounce minimizing isn't as effective at larger sizes the description will say that. Also some sports bras are designed for larger woman and the different engineering problems posed by large mammaries. (I'm sure there are more catalogs/websites than those linked here.)

So here's the question to y'all: Is it not as painful for some woman as for others? Do some woman think there is no alternative? Can I set up a fund for well-endowed athletes?


* If you don't want your boobs to move, relative to your shoulders, look for a bra that lists horseback riding as one of the activities it's good for.
**In case you are math adverse: 3 $15 bras cost $45, which will buy you one good bra that will probably last longer than the 3 together.

04 November 2008

Have you voted?

If not, go vote, then you can come back and read.
If/when yes, I have a question for you - does this appall you?

When I was working in Andalusia (LA*, not Spain), one of my co-workers was telling us, almost proudly, that when she'd changed her voter registration after getting married she used the office address because it'd be so convenient to vote. Our office was, I believe, within the city limits; the young lady in question lived two towns over. This means that she could vote for mayor, city council member, etc. for a city she didn't live in and couldn't vote for her county council member, mayor, school board... for where she DID live. I have no idea where the state legislative district boundaries are/were, but she may have been voting in the wrong ones for that, too. She seemed to only look at the convenience factor of voting closer to work. (BTW, she worked 7-4 and lived at most 45 minutes from work.) I was horrified, but not so much that I thought to contact the registrar.

*Lower Alabama for those not in the know.

01 November 2008

Pumpkin guts anyone?

I was inspired by Yes We Carve to make my first jack-o-lanterns in at least 12 years. I discovered that there is a reason I don't carve pumpkins - I suck at it. But I persevered and here are the results. Some of you will find these more frightening that others.






More photos here.

31 October 2008

Buffalo and a Manatee?

I don't think so.

Is it just me or does Appa look an awful lot like a water bear? Interesting that a sky bison would look like a water bear, seeing as how those are completely different nations. But maybe it was foreshadowing of the sky bender Avatar's partnership with two water nation kids?

Thank you to Chad for having a weekly picture of Appa with baby for scale (or that the other way around?) and Ugly Overload for reminding me of the cutest polyextremeophiles around.

27 October 2008

Another nit-picky correction

A few weeks ago I mentioned going to the young adult service at my church. I've gone almost every Sunday since. We've been going through Acts, because the idea behind this service is that it's a gathering similar to the way the early church met, or something like that. My only complaint is the music.

Last night's readings were from Acts 10, at the start of worship we heard about Peter's vision or the sheet filled with animals that he refused to eat because they were "unclean" and then God chastised Peter for saying something He had made clean was unclean. After this we sang "My God is Mighty to Save" and "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Neither of these are bad songs ("Mighty to Save" is actually descent, unlike much of the CCM that we've sung, IMHO.) but they don't have a whole lot to do with receiving visions. The passage that was preached on was Acts 10:34-48 - Peter's preaching to the Gentiles and their conversion and baptism. The songs we heard during the setting of the table and communion had little to do with the egalitarian nature of God's salvation. The last song we sung was "They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love", which could have a better melody but at least did sort of relate to the topic of the day.

I think the hymns sung and other music should relate to the passage. I think you have more leeway with opening hymns, but musical response to the sermon (or any reading) should tie into that reading. I don't think God really needs us to sit around and sing about how awesome he is or what great Christians we are; and, in church, we don't really need to sing a whole lot on the how awesome God's love is because we are preaching to the choir, almost literally. I think hymns should reinforce the message of the sermon. They can be purely worship/praise but they can say SO much more. And songs are easy to remember, which means if you can put your message to music people will remember it (or at least get it stuck as an earworm for days).

And I haven't even touched on the really shallow lame CCM stuff we've sung - like the song that had unrelated verses and chorus. Does this make me a music snob?

Oh, the correction: Georgia Tech played the UVA Cavaliers Saturday. Not Virginia Tech. (I looked up which one they actually played, and guessed right that he had the correct mascot, wrong university.) This detail had nothing to do with the content of the sermon but it really stuck out. At least to me, a former Virginian, even though I care very little about college football.

21 October 2008

Real America?

On last night's The Daily Show John presented an equation and a short quiz to help one figure out if one lived in Real America™ or not. Obviously, I failed the quiz since I was watching The Daily Show, but I was wondering about Tuscaloosa in general. To check the validity of the equation I'm going to do Andalusia, AL, also. I lived there for two years; it is pretty much Real America™. So I've collected the numbers I could and guessed the ones I couldn't. Here goes the calculations:

(p*c*a*Jr)/(S*(Pth-Pt)*(1/t-b)) = R
If R is less than 10 you live in Real America, if not you are going to hell.

p, population = 89000 (Tuscaloosa City), 171160 (Tuscaloosa Co)
c, Cost of a cup of coffee = $1.85
a, # of art house theaters = 2 (Bama, and the Ferg)
Jr, # of streets named for ML King, Jr. = 2 (one in T-town, one in Northport)
S, # of ids needed to buy Sudefed = 1
Pth, # of people who wear trucker hats = IDK
Pt, # of truckers = IDK
t, # of churches = 205 (Tuscaloosa addresses), 352 (in the county total, best I can tell YMMV)
a
b, # of bars = 12 (Tuscaloosa addresses), 13 (in county)
b

For whole of Tuscaloosa county: (171160)(1.85)(2)(2)(352-13)/1(1000c)=1717488

For Andalusia:
p=8794; c=1.50; a=0; Jr=1; Pth=IDK, Pt=IDK the ratio is higher than in Tuscaloosa is my guess; t=60; b=3

R=0


I think I've just found a couple of serious flaws in this equation. One improvement would be to put (t-b) in the denominator not the numerator (or 1/(t-b) in the denominator). The higher the church to bar ratio the "realer" a town gets, so it should make R get smaller. If your town has an art house theater or a street named for Dr. King then the population has to be tiny. Of course many would argue that the existence of an art house theater means you are not living in Real America™. Another problem with the equation is the whole Pth thing. Does have more non-truckers wearing trucker hats make your town realer? I've seen them on students who might not have been real Americans™.

Luckily all of this will be rendered moot in two weeks when all Americans, Real™ or otherwise (but legally eligible to vote), vote for our next president and, hopefully, all talk of "real" Virginia, "real" American values, and any thing else that tries separate the country stops for another 4 years. (Ok, 2.25 - until the next primary season begins.)

a Several zip codes outside the city limits show up as Tuscaloosa, a cursory yellowpages.com search doesn't separate the two.
b the phone book listings include many restaurants with bars as well as pure drinking establishments.
c I'm estimating here, I'm not sure I know the true differences between a baseball hat and a trucker hat but I don't see very many of the later, as I would define them. This number could be as high as half a freshman class at UA (or 2,250).

20 October 2008

Nit picky, I know

But Election Day (in the US) is not the first Tuesday of November. It is the Tuesday following the first Monday, which is slightly different. We will never vote for president on a November 1st, but we could on a November 8th.

That's your civics lesson for the day.

Why?

Can some one please explain why anyone thought that "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" needed a chorus? Those 4 verses, by Issac Watts, served just fine for 300 years. Did Chris Tomlin really need to add this bit?
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless Your name
(from here)
Just wondering.

Update: This dovetails (1 word or two?) nicely with something I read the other day. First a comment from Cosmic Variance: "...Actually [Christian Rock] mostly sucks because the lyrics are so lame." And linked in another comment there, a (partial) explanation of why it is so.

14 October 2008

Thank God, not my

...gynecological horrors. (Those with weak constitutions and men may wish to read about the daily exploits of an adolescent polar bear.)

My mother has a prolapsed uterus. It's been getting worse since my youngest brother was born (4 years before me). For a long time it just sat a little low and pushed on her bladder, making for frequent stops on family trips. In the last couple of years it has fallen even further, occasionally making it difficult for her to urinate. In the last year, it has started to try and fall out. (I warned you it would be unpleasant.) Having one's uterus attempt to exit one's vagina on it's own is bad enough but the non-surgical solution to this is even worse (IMveryHO, I am not a doctor...).

The obvious solution, especially at my mother's age is to have a hysterectomy, but Mom tries to avoid surgery so she decided to try the non-surgical solution. The doctor, initially, made it sound not too bad. "We insert a pessary and it holds everything in place, sometimes they fall out." The pessary is a doughnut shaped device that is folded up to fit up the vagina and through the cervix. It then unfolds and is suppose to keep whats inside from fallin out. Assuming everything works, it is removed a month later to make sure nothing it isn't causeing any problems in there. Assuming that ckecks out, the doctor inserts another one, which has to be removed every TWO MONTHS forever or until one gives up and has a hyterectomy. The really fun thing is that the doctor has no way of knowing exactly where the pessary is when he goes to remove it, so it's a bit of a fishing expedition to find it and it's difficult fold it up again. All in all the best case secenario sounds pretty unpleasant. I can't think why anyone would choose this treatment except to allow for future pregnacies, to which I suggest adoption. (It is possible that the whole thing is not as unpleasant for everyone as it was for Mom, I certainly hope it isn't.)

My mother was not a best case; it fell or was pushed out. I can not imagine how unpleasant that must have been. The nurse said there was the possibilty of trying a larger size, Mom was not interested. Yesterday, when she saw the doctor, he didn't suggest it anyway. Unfortunately, she can't have a 'normal' hysterectomy (vaginal or laparotomy). She's going to have to have major abdominal surgery (I know, kind of redundant) to remove the offending organ and have some reconstructive work done. This means a much longer recovery time both from the physical assult and from the full anathesia (which is liable to screw her up for months).

Yet another reason I'm glad not old.

Football injury

Ok, all I did was sit in a stadium for 3.5 hours. My nephew badly twisted his ankle in a vicious tailgating game of catch, but I'm fairly sure I didn't actually hurt myself playing bocce ball.*

My oldest brother, his wife, and children came down this weekend to see the ASU Mountaineers take on the Samford Bulldogs. Yosef was denied his stein but got to keep his shotgun. (Damn that thing is loud. I practically jumped out of my skin for each touchdown.) I had to explain to Rob that it may be a dry campus but guns are perfectly fine. Guns are good wholesome family fun in Alabama (and probably in Boone, NC, too). The Mountaineers kicked ass. 35-24 is a respectable score; it was 35-17 for a good bit of the second half. If they hadn't had so many stupid penalties and turnovers they might have kept the 'dogs to a lower score or got down the field a time or 2 more. Additionally, Rob said this was the first time he'd seen the cheerleaders in normal uniforms. Usually they have to wear warm-ups for the games.

A few thoughts on Samford's stadium and tailgating there. They had these cute little signs in the parking lot (across Lake Shore from the main campus) asking the visiting team to respect their tradition of an alcohol free campus. Sure thing, it really took two coolers to carry all that cream soda and water.:) By the way, you might want to treat those ant beds, not all visitors will be as acquainted with fire ants as locals are. (Like my niece) My high school in VA had a bigger stadium. We had a real 1/4 mile track that went all the way around the field too. I think Hillcrest's band was bigger (and the school had fewer than 500 students at the time). We certainly had more color-guard, but then the color-guard, majorettes, and most of the dance line were made up of the extra woodwind players. (That way at least the marching band was balanced.) Thanks for putting the visitors on the sunny side of the stadium, I needed to work on my farmer's tan. And last, but not least, I'd like to suggest not deflating the dog before the end of the game. It looks really pitiful and leads many jokes during the 4th quarter; these would be on top of the inflatable field house comments throughout the game.

After the game we meet back at my brother's house for another nephew's birthday. He turned 21 yesterday. Hopefully, Nathan won't get too blasted tonight (had to work today but is off tomorrow). He's been there and done that; I think he's smart enough to know it's not much fun to barf up all the beer, et. al. Rob and Kate got him great presents - airplane barf bags. Rob hands him one while saying "I know we're a couple of days early but I want you to use this when you go out Monday." The bag was folded up (from where I was sitting it looked a bit like a bank envelope) so Nathan had no idea what it was at first. Nettie had a really good card, too, although I don't think she fully realized why it was so funny. (Is it sad that all of my nieces and nephews drink more than me? Am I old because they can all do it legally now?)

Anyway - Happy Birthday, Nathan. And remember, it's not nearly as much now that it's legal.


*'boccie' can not be the correct spelling, because that would be pronounced, in Italian, baa-chih-ee (baa-chee-eh?). I don't care if dictionary.com says both are acceptable.

09 October 2008

Random Comments

I was on a business trip the first half of the week. The following are a series of comments I wrote down while trying not to completely zone out during the incredibly repetitive talks.
..but politics reign supreme

Arizona DEQ defines an aquifer as a geologic unit capable of producing 5 gal/day water regardless of TDS?!?!?! (If TDS high enough you won't need 5 gallons the next day.)

It can't 'outcrop' at 8000 feet BELOW sea level.

Walla Walla has a huge feed lot/slaughter house and a paper mill but they don't want a power plant because it might make the air worse???? Trust me after those two a power plant smells like a rose.

But I thought ethanol was suppose to save us? (Ethanol plants are large CO2 sources.)

Who planned this? (in reference to the breaks being after 2 hours of talks and only one hour before lunch and the end of the day respectively)

Why don't people bother to subscript the '2'?

Stuff moves in the high perm direction??!?!?! REALLY?

These are all from the work group meeting Wednesday (I was just there to listen):
We are talking in circles.

Why are we discussing the wording of the hypotheses?


Gas is a fluid, it is displacing a liquid.

Does Sue always talk that much?

01 October 2008

Banned Book?

It's National Banned Book Week.

I believe that school libraries should have age appropriate books. First off, there are books with content that is appropriate for high schoolers that are not appropriate for elementary students. Secondly, they have limited resources and need to spend it on books the students can actually benefit from. I think librarians can figure out what books meet the above criteria, it's why we hire them. I don't believe in censoring the ideas in books.

Out of curiosity, I looked at several lists of challenged books* ('Challenge' is the polite library word for asking for a book to removed from the shelves and the process of getting books removed.) Many I understand why a parent (or whomever) challenged the book - sex, drugs, impolite language,... I don't agree but I understand why someone might object to the book. Some truly baffled me.

One group of books on the lists are 'what the hell is happening to me/your guide to puberty and adolescence' books. These aren't fiction books that a kid might think is interesting because of the back cover and then learn all about Heather's two mommies. How often did you peruse the human development section of your library as a preteen? Probably not often, unless you had questions which these types of books address. And you were probably directed there by someone (parent, teacher, counselor). Oddly enough (or not so) parents (and others) objected more often to informing girls about puberty and their bodies than boys.

"The Light in the Attic" is a book of often silly, sometimes profound, poetry written and illustrated Shel Silverstein. I'm going to have to get my copy out and read it because I can not figure out what could be so offensive to some overly sensitive reader in that book. Any of you guys have a guess?

23 September 2008

Hot? Y/N

So last night's Heroes premiere (don't worry, no spoilers) and Sarah's villain worship reminded me of something (which I don't think I written about before).

I saw some online "posters" for the upcoming Star Trek movie and Spock is kinda' hot. (so's Kirk) I turned the TV to 13 just before 8 last night as some of the stars were shaking hands etc, on the red carpet before the show began (BTW, is Hayden old enough to wear a jacket without a shirt? Especially when said jacket is in danger of exposing her mammaries? Hmm, 19, I guess so.) and when I saw Zachary Quinto, my heart skipped a beat. Pre-psychopathic break, mousy watch-repairman Gabriel Gray was cute, maybe he just needed some confidence. But Sylar just doesn't appeal to me.

The reason, I think, is that Sylar isn't a nice guy. I mean, really, he's a psychopathic killer - a really not nice guy. Sure he can be charming but don't forget he cuts people's heads open and pretty much kills anyone who gets in his way. His personality keeps me from identifying him as attractive. The actor is a good looking but the character isn't attractive to me.

If I don't know you then all I can judge attractiveness on is your appearance. Obviously no assessment of appearance, by me anyway, is purely based on the form of the face and/or body because how one carries oneself, one's facial expression, etc. is also factored in. But once I know someone then character and personality get added in. Personality can make or break attractiveness.

It's not like go walking down the street rating everyone's hotness. If I did, frankly, most people would end up falling into the "ok" category. Since, who he is is the biggest part of whether I find a man attractive most guys look alright, too me, to begin with at least. Some men definitely fall in to the "ooo, nice" category.* I think, oddly enough, I would discriminate among women better than men because it wouldn't be 'attractive to me' I'd be judging but rather 'attractive to the average male'.

For example: The then-VP of a company I used to work for was a jerk. He was jerk to his ex-wife (from what I was told), the employees who worked directly for him, the other division heads, other employees at the company... One day the secretary for our group was bemoaning embarrassing herself in front of him because she hated to make a fool of herself in front of a "good looking man, and [he] is a GOOD looking man." My other co-worker and I, looked at each other and did mini-eye rolls. After the the secretary left the room we both said, "good looking????" I suggested that maybe, if you don't know him at all? Neither of us thought he was all that good looking anyway. But to be honest, at that point (or now) I don't think I could separate his personality from my assessment of his looks.

So how does it work for y'all? Do you think Sylar's sexy? Or just Zachary Quinto?

*They are one of the few perks of working on a college campus while the students are here. Luckily most students don't look so young that I feel dirty admiring them, yet.

18 September 2008

Stupid

Sarah is all worried about excess navel gazing - seems like that's all I do here. That could explain some of the difference in readership. A little more navel gazing can't hurt, right?

Long story short: I'm feeling particularly pathetic today.

Long story long: A friend of mine, that I met May 2007, took a job overseas for a year. He left town the last week of September and is suppose to be back in October. Other than some texts while he was training in Houston, I haven't heard from him. All we did was hang out, eat supper (often Taco Hell), and watch movies; so it's not like this was some deep friendship full of conversations about the meaning of life or anything. But I miss having someone to hang-out with some. I don't have very many friends and I hardly see any outside of work except immediate family. (And even a few of those I don't see as much as I'd like, despite working within shouting distance.) I hang out with my dog mostly and my little sister on the weekends and that's ok, most of the time. It's just sometimes I want company more my age (and species).

So, eleven months of nothing and yet I find myself looking forward to his getting back. I think I'll be really disappointed if Veteran's Day comes passes and I haven't heard from him. How pathetic is that?

Update: Last Friday I was bored and there wasn't anything on TV, so I went surfing. I searched for my friend's MySpace page, couldn't find it at first, but found his step-mother's. (When I saw his screen name I couldn't believe I'd forgotten it.) Apparently he's now married, which is nice for him (and his bride). I mostly got up from the computer feeling really stupid. If he had time to find a wife, he had time to drop me an email or two to say hi. Once again I thought friend meant more than the other person apparently did.

And one other thing if you read this BL: You know that saying about loaning a guy a 20 and if you never see him again it was probably worth it? Don't worry about it.

17 September 2008

The cellulose in those beans, you know,

will control the traffic flow.*

Happy 221st birthday, U.S. Constitution! For a birthday gift we, the people of these United States, will elect a president who won't piss all over you for the next 4 years. (at least I hope so)

In honor of the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, I'm listening to The Best of Schoolhouse Rock today. (Hey, there is no better way to learn the preamble to the Constitution than singing it.) If you are wondering about math (specifically the numbers 3, 8, and 0), the founding of the USA, how a new federal law gets made, biology, grammar, Wall Street, economics, or astronomy, you should take a listen. Schoolhouse Rock will at least hit the high points and the tunes are catchy. There are too many links to put them all in here so go to YouTube,watch a few, and reminisce about watch Saturday morning cartoons.


*title and first line are from "Our Own Machine"

15 September 2008

500+

500 meters / 15 minutes today.

100 free
50 back
200 - 2 sets of 50back kick/50free pull
50 back
75 back kick while pinching the massive stitch in my side
25 free

PLUS an additional 100 meters of walking in the water (waist to shoulder deep) with my arms over my head trying to get rid of the stitch. It was almost on both sides. If it hadn't been for the cramp I might have tried for a 750.

I wish I had remember to bring a pair of barrettes with me. My goggle straps didn't quite hold all my hair back.

(I'm now just past Falmouth.)

hmmm...

Is it just me or is something terribly wrong with the world when my 10 year old sister spend the ride to church* putting on my make-up (and doing a good job of it, I think she even got the eyeshadow right since I didn't notice it) and I'm reaching for the Chapstick? Something besides the fact that my foundation is a shade to light for her, since she puts it on light enough that there isn't a line at her jaw or anything.

Slightly related - last week Sis was disappointed I didn't let her take communion. She was all "good bread, yummy. Can I have some???" and I was like "um, no. It's bread and yet it's not just bread." This week I let her (I wasn't expecting communion this week, big church only does it once a month). For this young adult service, we come down front take a piece of bread (it actually is really good bread - Challah bread, I think) then dip it in the "wine" (sweetened grape juice). Bread dipped in grape juice was not nearly as yummy as the bread on it's own. Sis was a little disappointed and disgusted. This might make her think twice about 'ummm, yummy bread. I want a pinch', next time.



*My church started a Sunday evening service this month. It's kind of "church-light" but we sing lots and I don't have to get up early. So I may keep going.

11 September 2008

3.5 Alarm

(I know we are all suppose to have deep thoughts today, but I don't have any, so this is what you get.)

My morning alarm system is fairly complicated. Between 5:30 and 6 the bedside light comes on*, at 6 the radio comes on, then at 6:15 the really-annoying-alarm-on-the-other-side-of-the-room goes off. This forces me to at least walk across the room and hit a button before falling back asleep.

The obnoxious alarm has a snooze button but I've had problems with "double-clicking" and getting a 30 minute snooze instead of 10 minute. I have been using the alarm on my cell for snoozing but I've screwed that up more than once with my eyes half closed. So several days this week I set the alarm on my cellphone before going to bed for my 15 minute snooze**. How pathetic am I?

There is something extra-specially sweet about those 10-15 min of snoozing. It's stolen sleep. I'm not sure I can give it up, even though it (+/- too long showers) has made me late more often than I care to mention.

Any suggestions on how to force myself out of bed in the morning? No buckets of cold water designed to pour on me if I don't get up in time, please.

*I can not wake up in the dark; my brain sees no light and says it's sleepy time. The timer (cheap mechanical kind) loses time and gets slightly later each day and can't be set exactly. I have to remember to reset the time every few weeks, unless the power's been off more recently. Can you really not use an electrical timer with CFLs?

20 August 2008

Bun or Bob?

My hair has reached, once again, the point where no reasonable amount of conditioner will prevent knotting. (This time it has reached this point while still looking decent, usually the last 2 inches of hair are just raggedy split ends.) This means that by the end of the day I want to shave my head. So my choices are:
  • Get a couple inches off (possibly making my hair the really annoying length)
  • Get a bob, just long enough to tuck behind the ear (yes I want to get my hair cut just as the weather starts to make long hair bearable again)
  • Wear my hair in a bun everyday (ponytails don't cut it)
What are your suggestions?

12 August 2008

Geek-cred

Sarah has a shiny new motherboard and is wondering what to do with it.

I'm just happy I finally got Windows to acknowledge that there was some uninstalled hardware on my computer. As you may recall I reinstalled Windows XP in June and had to go fishing for a modem driver. (I had copied the drivers to a CD but the folder must not have had the 'install' files.) Last week I tried to play a CD for the first time.

"Add New Hardware" couldn't find any new hardware to add. I tried to manually install a new sound/video/game controller. Several times. Taking different approaches. Nada. Finally yesterday I'm looking around left clicking on anything that might possibly give me some different options. Suddenly there it is "search for new hardware" (or was it 'search for hardware changes'?) after a left click on 'sound video game controller' in the device manager. In desperastion I try it and, lo, it finds the sound card. It installs the drivers. And, after restarting, it is good. I can haz muzix!

Tonight I will continue to rip my CDs so I can make some potentially illegal mix discs. (I want to say 'mix tape' even though I haven't listened to a tape in several years.)

In case you were wondering, I am no computer-geek.

P.S. The chair drama mentioned in that first post is still continueing. We STILL don't have our new chairs.

07 August 2008

Who needs a reason?

Apparently not the writers of the song "I am a Patriot", the song in the opening montage of episode 8 of Carrier. I didn't pay much attention the first time I watched it, other than to notice it was bad (although I liked the chanty/spiritual-ish bit at the beginning and end), but last night I caught another line that made my estimation of the song and songwriter sink a little lower (although I wonder if it was written for the show, so may not be all the sw's fault). The chorus is (iirc):
I am patriot,
And I love my country,
Because my country,
is all I know...
You love your country because it is all you know? I think this is the saddest reason to love one's country and be willing to die (and kill) for it. Not knowing any different is not a good reason for much of anything. It's right up there with "the Bible (preacher/Momma) says so". It is also, imho, a reason that can fall apart if it is questioned too much. What happens if/when you learn more about the world and the USA? (Ever try talking to someone who can't even entertain the hypothetical that the Bible/preacher might be wrong about some little thing? Like if they question that one little thing their faith/world will implode? It's like that.)

I've never lived anywhere else, and have only been overseas once, but I like to learn about the world and what life is like elsewhere (and would love to travel more). I also paid attention in my history classes. So while I certainly don't think the our government is infallible (or our culture the best for everyone and always) but I do think we have an excellent foundation to build our government on (it would help if policies actually mattered more to voters than slogans/image) and the freedoms on which our country was founded have made it a pretty good place to live. The 1st Amendment rights and the principle that "all men are created equal" (in dignity and under the law) and that we all have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" (whatever that last bit is suppose to mean) have allowed us to become a nation and people that many long to join. We aren't perfect but we are a lot better than many places out there. The ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights are why I love my country not just because it's home.

05 August 2008

300 Meters

Or yards, I'm not sure which that pool is.

Yes, I swam last night, just not very far. Nettie swam 75 yards (without stopping to rest half way!) in the lane and who knows how much diving for pennies. (diving for pennies without bright over head light (i.e. the sun) is much more difficult, especially ungoggled as I usually swim.)

There are some definite disadvantages to swimming laps with Nettie. If she is in front of me I have to either kick only or do a catch-up drill* so I don't run her over. And one of my 25s was towing her back to the other end of the pool. (Where else is a girl going to get an extra 50 lbs to pull?) She, obviously, bored with lap swimming quickly but seemed relatively happy diving for pennies while I continued. One problem with the pool, and our timing, is that lots (relatively) of people come to swim after work and don't seem too keen on asking strangers to share a lane.

Allow me to review the evening, then ask you a question:They keep two lanes up in the "lap" pool (oddly the put a lane rope in against the wall, too) and the rest is open and from 10 to close the pool is open for "lap/open swim" (at least in August, could we maybe get a schedule for 2 months at a time??). When Nettie and I arrived there was a person in one lane (lane '2' for reference) and a young couple swimming/flirting just outside the lane (I think the girl was using the lane rope as a guide; they were not flirting/hanging one to each other obnoxiously as the students often do at UA's outdoor pool.) so Nettie and I had a lane to ourselves, which is good because she is slow, splashy, and rest a lot, and if I'm on my back I need lane ropes or a wall to keep me from wandering across the pool. After I finished swimming laps we got out of the lane and moved over to the open area, there was a guy swimming about in what would be the 4th lane over and the young couple mostly just hanging out at the shallow end of lane 3 she occasionally swam down and back. A guy showed up and moved into the lane I'd been swimming in (lane 1). Then two other ladies showed up to swim (in lane 3.5?) and I had Nettie move to the shallow end of lane 5, next to the ramp for chasing pennies. When lane 2 guy left, one of the lane 4 girls was using a kick board so she certainly could have seen that the roped lane was empty but she didn't move. (I know that while one is swimming laps one often doesn't notice when someone in the next lane gets out/in, particularly several lanes over, but when I swim I want to be in a roped lane (see backstroke comment above so if I'm using a kick board and can see what's going on (or paused at the wall), I'd be watching for these things.) Then someone else arrived and took lane 2 and a couple arrived and swam in lane 5 and Nettie was stuck diving for pennies basically right against the ramp (several times my throws actually landed on the ramp) and the shallow part at the end of the ramp. Three feet isn't much of a practice of ones underwater swimming. I did manage one more lap (for a total of 350 yards) right along the wall/ramp but lane 5 guy kind of gave me a bad look. Hey, he and his wife were staying on the line and to the other side of it, I had room. I did my best to keep us out of the way of the lap swimmers (unlike the other kids who were going back and forth between the pools and randomly jumping (but not on people) into the lap pool. BTW, I don't want to do anything but float in the "therapy" pool; 93° water is too warm to even think about moving in.) I just found the unwillingness to share a roped lane, odd.

Did my years (all 4 of them) give me a different view on sharing a lane? Or just give me a high preference for roped lanes even when room exists elsewhere?

We were there about an hour total. Nettie had tons of fun. (Hello, she was with her favorite sister, how could she not?)


*While swimming "freestyle" one are is stationary, always extended forward while the other does a stroke. When the stroking arm completes it's recovery (catches up), they trade places/jobs. To stay behind Nettie I didn't kick.

29 July 2008

N'awlins


NOLA
Pictures from our trip. Almost all of them are at the zoo and aquarium, so lots of animals and fish. Nettie (and I) are bad about trying to bring home everything we saw but we kept running out of disk space.:)