June 12, 2006

In honor of Alberto...

... and the first hurricane warning of the season:

An oldie but a goodie, the Piper-Kitty Scale

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:35 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 13, 2006

I'm dreaming of a white Fitzmas.....

A holiday that will never be...

Suck it, conspiracy moonbats, Rove didn't break the law, and hence WILL NOT BE CHARGED in the CIA leak case.

Why on earth would the President want to bury good news about Rove under his trip to Baghdad?

The day just keeps getting better.

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Now hear this!

Most of you probably have seen this story about the ring tone that supposedly only teens can hear.

It's an ultra-high frequency tone, around 17-18 kHz, and most adults lose the ability to distinguish such tones as we age and the hair cells in our inner ears are damaged, either from getting older, or excess exposure to loud noises, including music.  Teens, however, should be able to hear it just fine...

As can most dogs and cats....

Anyway, Steve-O has the link here.  Turn up the volume and click the player.  I can hear it just fine, thanks, as annoying as it is.

Trust me, any of the little f*ckers show up in my class with that, I will own their cell phone for the rest of the day.

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:46 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

Cluck off, Chickie!

Last week, the Dixie Chicks ruffled a few feathers when singer Natalie Maines dismissed her ENTIRE fan base, saying,

"I'd rather have a smaller following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith," she told Time. "We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."
This week, she's back, and served up her other foot for another tasty meal:
"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."--emphasis mine, ed.
No wonder the Clucks are having a hard time selling out arenas in places like Memphis, Indianapolis, and Fresno.  Yeah, their album debuted at #1, but anyone in the biz will tell you that album sales mean nothing to the artist.  They make all of their money touring.  Cancelling concerts is bad  news on the pocketbook.  Especially the new Louis Vuitton ones, right, Natalie?

All the snark aside, I'd like to remind Ms. Maines and her colleagues that the SINGLE, ONLY, UNIQUE, UNITARY, etc. reason that she has this soapbox, that she's made all the money in her bank account, that she can fly to France or the UK whenever she wants and spout off about this country is that she is a CITIZEN OF THE US.

Don't love your country, Natalie, it's ok.   Really, The rest of us could give a shit.  But don't tell us we're stupid for caring.  Don't tell us that you like your life and then spit in the face of those people who have died or sacrificed much so that you can live the way you do.

Why should people care about patriotism, Natalie?  Well, because patriotism created this country, it sacrificed to preserve out way of life, and continues to do so over and over again every day.  Patriotism is why you can stand on your soapbox and denounce the President.  Patriotism is why you speak English, not German or Japanese.  Patriotism provides you with the security to go about your business and raise your children as you see fit.

The truth is, see, that in the long run, it is the patriot whose contributions will matter.  The small effort of each individual to preserve and prolong the grand experiment in democracy started more than 200 years ago by another group of patriots whose motives were questioned by ignorant fools like you.  Your contributions, your songs, your rabble rousing, your chicken feet tatoos; they'll all be gone with the proverbial wind.  But this country, and the patriots who protect her, will still be here.

What was the most popular song/singer of 1776?  You don't know?  Well, in 2206 I can assure you the same answer will be spoken in response to "Who were the Dixie Chicks?"

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:05 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Irony of the day

Lifted wholesale from Insty:

AL GORE WON'T ENDORSE JOE LIEBERMAN. Comment: "I guess Lieberman would have been good enough to run the government if something bad happened to Gore. But he's not obviously the best qualified to be the junior senator from Connecticut, even though he had the same job when Gore tapped him in 2000."
Wow.  Either being POTUS has lower requirements than I thought, or Algore has just reinvented the internet...  Who needs Algore anyway?  I love Joe, and I'd vote for him in a heartbeat!

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

Sad News

My evil Fairy blogfather, Rob Smith, also known as Acidman of Gut Rumbles, passed away this morning.

Not many details are available.

My thoughts and prayers are with his daughter Sam and son Quinton, who I know will miss him very much.

I'll miss you, you lousy cracker son-of-a-bitch.  And I regret that I never was able to meet you and buy you a drink (back in the day when you actually partook).

If Rob was a part of your life, let Sam know, and leave her a comment here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:56 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 27, 2006

One more for Rob

Rob's memorial will be Thursday afternoon in Savannah.  More details can be found here.

If you'd like to leave the family a note of condolence, there's an obituary here, with links to a guestbook where you can leave the family a message.

: Rob's Obit from the Savannah Morning News is here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 30, 2006

We're off to see the wizard

Out and about over the long holiday weekend, so if you're bored with the lack of interesting posts, check out the blogrolls!

Or better yet, go wish the Feisty One a Happy Birthday!

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 05, 2006

More Bad News

My dear friend Christina, her husband Dash, and the Wee and Sweet Ones (along with assorted pets) are all alright after losing their home to a lightning strike last night.

As always, my thoughts and prayers are with them as they rebuild both their house and their sense of security.

My door is always open to the whole bunch of you, doggies and all, if you should feel a trip to the west coast is in order.  Just give me a couple of hours notice to blow up the air matress for the girls.  And if there's anything else I can do, you know the number, my dear friend.

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July 06, 2006

If anybody talks to Chrissy....

Tell her I feel like I'm spinning on my thumb because there's nothing I can do to help, and she needs to call me and tell me what I can do for her.  Anything at all.  The post office is down the street from my house, after all.

She doesn't know it, but her cheerfulness and her friendship really got me through when Dad was in the hospital.  And now it's my turn to do something for her.  I'm just waiting for orders.

UPDATE: I spoke to Christina this afternoon. She's ok, but (I suspect) beginning to be a little overwhelmed by the enormity of what was lost, and how many little things we take for granted everyday. The good news is that everyone and the pets are ok, and the insurance is covering whatever they need. Thank God.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:56 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 10, 2006

Pet Peeve Rant!

Inspired by this thread at Dean's World.

One of my bigger pet peeves is how everyone in the world has an opinion about whether, or how, a young lady should change her name after marriage.

My own take?  Every marriage is different, everyone's circumstances are different, and that's no reason to judge the fidelity or commitment of a relationship.  Whatever the two people affected (the husband and wife) think is really all that matters.

I have known many people who got married in many different circumstances, from the new wife who immediately changes to her husband's name, to the couple who both change to a new last name.  This doesn't mean that they are any less committed, that their relationship is any less intimate, or that their family is any less spiritual.

In fact, the couple I know who both changed their last name to an amalgam of the two original names were both pastors.

A professional woman is presented with a dilemma on her marriage.  Should she continue to use the name that her friends and coworkers are accustmed to, that is written on her professional credentials and represents her body of work?  Or should she start over with a new name?  What will that mean to her career, especially in a field where name recognition is important?

If the marriage is successful, then no problem, she can build the majority of her career under her married name.  But what if it is not?  Many marriages end because of the stress of an early professional career.  Take the case of Professor M, someone I studied with.  Her maiden name was F, but she married and changed her name in graduate school.  A few years later, she and Mr. M divorced, but she continued to use his name, because her degree and publications used that name.  In fact, she is still known as Dr. M, although that hasn't legally been her name in almost 30 years.  In fact, her legal name is Mrs. T, as she remarried a few years ago.

As for myself, I have chosen to use both.  At work, I am Dr. CTG, and to the rest of the world,  I am Mrs. CTGT  (Hubby, of course, being Mr. GMT).  And honestly, it would be easier to take hubby's name.  Those of you who know my own name are nodding your heads in agreement, as his name is both shorter and easier to spell for other people, but it is as important to me to be one as it is to be the other, so I use both. And it works for both of us.

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:14 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

July 11, 2006

Food for thought

Tammy has a rather important post.  Go read it.  That is all.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 12, 2006

More News you can Use

A fantastic damn fisking by Ken of it comes in pints? regarding estate taxes and the lunatics who think that they are both useful and only for the rich.

Believe me, he knows a lot about the subject, from personal experience.....

Here's Ken's money shot....
After laying out the current law regarding estate exemptions through 2010, he says:

"this piece never mentions that in 2011 the exemption goes back to $1 million (and the top tax rate goes to 50%). Think about how much land prices (both home and farm) have increased in recent years. Think about how many people have IRAs and similar vehicles. How many of those estates will be valued at over $1 million five years from now? A lot of people who don't consider themselves rich are going to be very unpleasantly surprised." (emphasis mine)
Even if you don't know much about the Estate Tax issue, drop by and read what Ken has to say. It's quite an education.

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Why you should never support PETA

They support people like this.

The funny part?  The stupid fucktards made two mistakes:
1.  They left it on the wrong porch
2.  It was broken and never exploded.

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2006

Happy, Happy!

Happy Birthday to AWTM and Rave!

I would have gotten you presents, but I think you've already got your hands full.....

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 17, 2006

Elisson Rules

The Debonair one has done an amazing thing for those of us still missing the Acidic One.

Here's Rob's interview with WAGA about blogging and losing his job.

Thanks, dude.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2006

Happy Happy!

It's the Big 3-0 for sarahk, and she's not having the best day, despite some awesome presents!

Go give her some love!

And Happy Belated 31 to my favorite NC phishy!

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 24, 2006

Seven Year Itch

As most of you probably don't know, today is my wedding anniversary.  Seven years of legal entanglement with the sweetest man on the face of the planet.

It seems funny to say "seven years" because really, it's been more and less.  Really, we've been together almost a dozen years, since just before my 18th birthday.  And realistically, you could say we've been married less because just after our wedding he went off to do his bit for Uncle Sam in armpit of Texas for three years.  And honestly, we're only now FINALLY getting used to each other again.

Some days I adore him
Some days I downright hate him

But at the end of the day we can still work it out and be together, and that's what counts.

Happy Anniversary to my my best friend and lover.  I love you!

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:00 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

July 26, 2006

el 26 de julio

On 26 de julio, 1953, fidel cagastro and his band of commie idiots led a raid on one of the largest military garrisons in Cuba.

Nearly everything went wrong, the rebels were out numbered, part of the weapons caravan got lost on the way, and more than 2/3 of the rebels were killed or captured.  Several of them ran for it, including the original coward, cagastro.

Oh, and BTW, he WAS captured.  Inept pig that he is, he was found in the jungle shortly afterward and arrested.  cagastro was in fact sentenced to death, but in a head-scratching moment worthy of Dr. Evil and his foul-tempered sea bass, Batista pardoned him in 1955.

Kinda ironic that such a stunning defeat serves as the namesake of the movement that brought cagastro to power, no?

So today is the day that Cuba celebrates her "glorious" revolucion.  The banners and music displayed today continuing the web of lies that turned a humbling defeat into the rallying point of a damned revolution.  Because the truth, in Cuba, depends on your point of view.

For the Cubanos, a proud and once prosperous people, it is a day to pretend their want and hunger are absent, and for cagastro and his cronies, a day to ignore the facade crumbling around them.

For more info on the battle of 26 julio , go here.

For more thoughts on what this day means to Cubans, both in Cuba and elsewhere, try any of these wonderful Cuban bloggers:
El Conductor
Val Prieto

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 31, 2006

A lack of Education on your part.....

The always interesting Dafydd ab Hugh brings us the tale of MA Gov. Mitt Romney, who recently described the Big Dig fiasco as a "tar baby".  Correctly, too, I might add.

Now, in this day and age, as you would expect, certain groups got their panties in a collective twist over THEIR interpretation of the phrase, which they incorrectly assumed was a negative term referring to black people.  And made him apologize.

If these asshats would stop banning GOOD literature and movies because of their PC BULLSHIT, and had actually read Uncle Remus or seen Disney's "Song of the South", instead of mindlessly chucking them for the invocation of an unfortunate sterotype or two, they would know that the phrase "Tar Baby" refers to an inanimate object, covered in a sticky substance, that serves no other purpose than the trap the person unlucky enough to touch it.

A "Tar Baby" therefore, is really just a big, sticky, messy problem that will not go away.  Sounds like the Big Dig, no?

So let's call a spade a spade, and drop this whole pretended affrontery, ok?  As Dafydd says:

"I reckon with some people, God was a bit niggardly in passing out brains."

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:12 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

So Israel is the bad guy, huh?

Michelle Malkin has Israeli warning leaflets distributed to Lebanese civilians, asking them to leave town before the bombing raids.

As Michelle so eloquently puts it,"The only thing I remember raining down in Beirut in 1983 or the Khobar Towers in 1996 or NYC on 9/11 were ashes and dust."

Anyone who disagrees with that can personally kiss my ass.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 02, 2006

Must... blog...

Watch this space...

my take on Israel vs Hezboolahboolah

a story rattling around in my head

a must read article on parenting styles and society.

Coming soon!

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 03, 2006

Finally, the MSM tells a good story

The Palm Beach Post recognizes Val Prieto of Babalu, and his wonderful family.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 04, 2006

Sunny Birthdays!

Happy Happy to two of my favorite Florida ladies:  VW Bug and Pam!

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 07, 2006

I HOPE this means what I think it means!

Reuters: 1 hour, 25 minutes ago

Peaceful succession under way in Cuba: official

Cuba has set in motion a peaceful political succession, dashing U.S. government expectations of chaos following Fidel Castro's hand-over of power to his brother, a leading Cuban intellectual and government member, Roberto Fernandez Retamar, said on Monday.

"They (the U.S. government) had not expected that a peaceful succession was possible. A peaceful succession has taken place in Cuba," Fernandez Retamar said at a news conference.

The writer and member of the Council of State was the first government official to say a succession under Raul Castro was in motion after Fidel Castro relinquished power a week ago following gastric surgery.

Stay tuned.  As always, Babalu has the latest.
h/t Smash
Posted by caltechgirl at 12:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Memo to self....

Never give a llama your work phone #.  Or any phone # for that matter.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 10, 2006

I am SO done with Michelle Malkin

She called out one of my friends today.  Called her a "sad moonbat" without even reading her post because like we have all been doing, she lamented the new airline restrictions in the UK and the need for them.

Some of you know Helen, and you know she is neither sad nor a moonbat. She may be a self-described "crunchy granola vegetarian", but if anything, my dear friend is almost entirely apolitical.

I too am appalled by the idea that I would have to trust my cellphone, ipod, and laptop to the honesty of baggage handlers; that my nieces and nephew wouldn't be allowed crayons or snacks on a long, boring flight; that I can have my contact lenses, but not the solution I need to put them in my eyeballs; that racial profiling is a cheap shortcut in the battle against terror.

That Malkin calls such honest sadness "whining" and "moonbattery" is beyond me.

I think we should ALL be sad.  I think it should strengthen our resolve to tear these motherfuckers a new asshole.  I think it should make us more focused on using ALL the resources we can to identify the dickwads who would do this and find out what they intend before they do it.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:20 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Goodbye Mr. Agony of defeat!

ABC's Wide World of Sports is about to be no more:

"ESPN will become the overarching brand for all sports programming carried on the ABC Television Network beginning Saturday, Sept. 2 -- the debut of ABC's college football season. "We're using the word evolutionary," said George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks. "We're trying to move the ball forward in sports television and we think this is another step in that direction." "
They quit showing the iconic opening featuring the signature line "The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat" years ago, but it's still sad to think that we'll never see Vinko Bogataj crash again.

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:24 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 11, 2006

All work and no play....

... makes this girl boring as hell.

We're off to La Playa for a couple of days of sun and sand.

Be good while I'm gone, and play nice!

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:23 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 17, 2006

A Blight has come upon the world....

The Blight baby is here!  Evidently mom and baby boy are happy and healthy!


Posted by caltechgirl at 04:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 22, 2006

First Pictures of Blight Baby!

The Lady Key has 'em. 

Cute little Blighter!

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 28, 2006

Happy 20th Birthday

Gilad Shalit

May you have many more, and may this be the only one you ever spend in pain at the hands of terrorists.

Don't know who this good looking kid is? Try here, here , or here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 03, 2006

That time of year again...

It's officially football season.  Why all of a sudden I like football, I have no idea. But over the last decade, I have really built up a love for it.

As a girl, I hated it.  couldn't relate.  Too violent.  Silly.  Boring.  A waste of my precious reading time.  An obstacle to GOING HOME, PLEASE, until halftime or the end of the game after lunch at my Grandmother's house on Sunday.

Now I can't wait.  College, NFL, I don't care.  I watch it like one of those freaks with a fantasy team.  I know the teams, the coaches, the players.  I'm still learning the lingo, like "west-coast offense" and "slant pass into the flat", but I get it.

I appreciate the nuance of it.  Learning the strengths and weaknesses of the your own team and the opponent.  Special plays that are emblematic of  your own offense or defense.  the irony of the detailed and meticulaous preparation required to bash your opponents brains out.

From a scientific point of view, it's interesting too.  Sociologically, it's entertaining to watch men bond and reinforce social norms over some beer and pigskin-related violence.  Evolutionarily, it's amusing to see us put men dressed in costumes that emphasize their "manliness" (broad shoulders, thighs, and calfs; small waist, flat stomach.  Think about where the pads are and how different it makes them look...) up on a pedestal.  The ugliest-ass football player can still get a hot chick, just because he's a baller.

So, I've been immersed in it since yesterday morning.  GameDay came on at 7am, and since then I have been making up for a winter and summer of lost time.  I think I watched all or part of at least 7 games yesterday, between 4 channels.  And I am quite proud that I called that Tennessee stompin' of Cal.

Ov-er-ra-ted clap clap clapclapclap!

I was also rooting for GTech, mostly because I'm a Trojan fan and ND is anathema to me, but I was glad to see a good game, and I think GT still busted a lot of the ND hype.

Texas, Auburn, and OSU all played chump games (yes, Wazzu is a CHUMP team), so I'm waiting to see how good they REALLY are.

In other news, JD Booty lives up to the hype and my Trojans are starting to look like new faces in old places.  If they keep it up, the rest of the NCAA better watch out.

Biggest Chump of the Week: Wisconsin Lutheran, who lost to Valparaiso 54-0.
Happy Surprise of the Week: Navy beats ECU
I Expected it of the Week: Richmond beats dook.  By a shutout.
Shit Call of the Week:  A tie: The questionable helmet to helmet on GT vs ND, and the non-whistle which took a TD away from my Tar Heels, leading to a Rutgers score and victory.

Bad Officials of the Week:  Again, a tie: Pac-10 ref crew at the UofO/Stanford game and the Big 10 crew running the ND/ GT game (both for blown replay calls)

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:57 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Sad as Hell

The Crocodile Hunter is dead.

Steve Irwin died at 11am Monday morning after being stung by a Sting Ray off the coast of Australia, north of Cairns.  Evidently Steve and his crew were filming an underwater documentary.

The irony of it is that Sting Rays aren't considered to be especially dangerous, and stings often cause little more than skin irritation.

Steve leaves behind his wife Terri and children Bindi Sue (8) and Bob (2 and a half).

Terri Irwin was in Tasmania, and wasn't present during the shoot.  She was notified shortly afterward by Tasmanian authorities.

Steve's death has crashed a lot of websites in Australia, including major news pages and the Australia Zoo site.

Steve touched a lot of people because of his passion for wildlife and his honesty about who he was and what he did.  And how much he loved his family.  I was always a big fan of Steve's and I will miss him more than I should.

More links and info here

photos courtesy smh.com.au, scotsman.com, wildlifewarriors.org.au

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:44 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

September 07, 2006

This is why I chose not to participate

I could NEVER pay tribute to anyone as well as they deserve, and certainly not this well.

Never Forget. Never.  Check out the 2,996 project.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 11, 2006

The WTC and Me...

When I was 17 years old, in the summer of 1994, I was part of a summer program that invited science students to New York for two week to study and be a part of "real" high level research. Among the amazing and wonderful things we did that summer was a tour of New York City. After taking the Circle line out to the Statue of Liberty and back, we boarded the bus and went into downtown. We stopped at the foot of the World Trade Center.

I remember looking up and up and up, unable to see the top. Wondering at the immense feat of engineering standing before me. Face to face with these twin giants, my friend and I laughed at the presumption of a handful of terrorists who tried to bring it down with a truck bomb. My friend J said, "You know, they built the towers to withstand a hit by a 747." We were all duly impressed. It seemed like overkill.

And it became a joke amongst us.

Fast forward 7 years.

September 11, 2001. 9 am.
I was sleeping in. It had been a late night Monday night, as a friend who had been staying with us in NC was set to fly back to CA that afternoon. Also, I was supposed to teach that afternoon after taking her to the airport.

The phone rang. It was my husband, stationed in TX in the army. "Turn on the TV." he said. "Any channel".

I fumbled for the remote, half awake, and turned on the TV to see the WTC, one tower standing, the other on fire from a gaping hole near the top. The morning show people were just beginning to realize that it wasn't a cessna that hit the building, but a fully loaded jumbo jetliner.

Before I could comprehend that, another jet hit the other tower. And I knew.

My heart stood still. But still, I thought, the buildings will stand. The people can get out, or be rescued from the roof, right?

I called my parents and Ben, woke up my friends, and crawled to the big TV in the den. What next? Were there more planes? Were any of my friends there?

The rest of the day is a blur of images: People jumping from the buildings, the towers collapsing in a cloud of ash, that video of the asian woman running in high heels and nearly being run down as the towers collapsed behind her. I remember screaming "just take your damn shoes off so you can run..."

I don't remember eating, and I don't think I slept. I just sat in front of the tv. The towers came down. They were supposed to withstand the unthinkable, that kind of hit, but they came down anyway.

I spoke to my friend a few days later. We reminisced about that day at the towers, and how we all believed them to be invincible. And how that came to stand for a lot of things. And now those things were gone.

I think we grew up a lot on September 11, 2001. But it's easy to forget. It's easy to over analyze and twist the facts to fit your own mindset instead of facing the difficult facts:

+Nineteen Islamofascist fuckheads hijacked four planes
+They deliberately chose flights that would be the fullest and carry the most fuel
+They succeeded in crashing three of those planes into pre-selected targets
+It was NOT a government conspiracy. Unless you mean the governments of Iran, Syria, etc.
+2,996 innocent people died. Many of them heroes who died trying to save the lives of others
+Unless we wipe jihadist thinking from the face of this planet, something like 9/11 WILL happen again

And if you don't believe that with even some small part of your soul, then you need to get your head out of your ass.

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 12, 2006

Today's the Day!

So much so that I ran out and picked these up before work today to be sure they wouldn't be sold out:

The ORIGINAL THEATRICAL VERSIONS.  You know, where Han shoots first.

I am so freaking excited!  I bought these on VHS (on a whim) the last time they were released in 1996 or 1997, shortly before the "Special Edition" movies were released, and I watch them only rarely for fear of destroying the tapes.  Now I have them in a much more durable format.  Yay!
Posted by caltechgirl at 10:05 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 13, 2006

This is awesome...

The Baldwin Online Children's Literature Project.

Making a virtual archive of classic children's literature in the public domain.

h/t the venomous (and sniffly) one

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 23, 2006

I suck

So this week was my turn for the Spyvella chapter, but I have been dealing with some major issues at work (hence the dearth of posting this week). I'll try to get it together and post it soon. Promise!

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 26, 2006

Some serious smackdown

...going on over at Babalu.

First, check out George's post on Clinton's interview with Chris Wallace.  Then read the comments!

Frankly, you should know you've lost the argument when you resort to saying things like "Sure wish Bush would have sex with some intern..."

The Babalu smackdown continues courtesy of Condi Rice.

Be sure to check it all out!

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More than a comedian

As many of you probably know, Bill Cosby has an Ed.D. That's Education Doctor, BTW.

Here's what he has to say about education: "Why can't students practice algebra for hours like teams practice sports?"


...[W]hen freshman Kimya Thompson shouted that the subject was boring, Cosby, from Shelburne, brought her on stage.

He told her that if she and her peers didn't sharpen their academic skills, they'd be earning minimum wage.

Cosby told the 450 students that they couldn't go to jail for getting straight As, but they could get shot for selling drugs.
You tell 'em Bill!

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:36 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 03, 2006

British Soldier wins Gulf War Syndrome case

Even though he never served in the Gulf:

"Alex Izett, a former lance corporal in the Royal Engineers, won a case at the War Pensions Tribunal in Manchester, northwest England, in 2003 attesting that his ailments developed after vaccinations he received in 1991.

That ruling allowed him to to receive a pension for individual conditions such as the brittle bone disease osteoporosis that developed after army medics innoculated him against chemical and biological agents.

More importantly, though, the UK court ruling in effect declares that Gulf War syndrome is real and that soldiers SHOULD be compensated and treated for the after effects of vaccinations, other medications, and environmental exposures during their service in the Gulf and pre-service staging.

This stands in stark contrast to the "official" US view that there is no such thing as Gulf War Syndrome, based on a VA-funded study conducted on soldiers returning from the Gulf since 1990.  In the US, veterans may only claim special disability benefits if they suffer from an UNDIAGNOSED illness that can be directly related to their Gulf War service.

Do you know how hard it is to get NO diagnosis?  You must have at least a preliminary diagnosis in order to treat a patient appropriately.  Sure, you can treat symptoms individually, but you must be able to draw some conclusions in order to avoid iatrogenic injury or disease.

Maybe our sick vets should go to Britain to get sicker be treated for their illnesses.  At least they'll be appreciated and not belittled.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 06, 2006

Weekend Happy!

While I was busy retreating (work retreat, yecccch) and then recuperating (read: tackling the laundry pile and watching football...) a bunch of people went and had birthdays!

So Happy Happy (late) to

Dana of Frankensoul (11/2)
Beth of YeahRightWhatever (11/3)
Kat of CatHouseChat (11/4)
Stacy of Still Stacy (11/5)
and last but certainly not least, blogmom Deb of Dispatches from Blogblivion (11/5)

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

California Election Cheat Sheet

For Tuesday's statewide election:

First, a general rule of thumb: "desperate" career politicians get no votes from me (see below)

Governor-- Ah-nold.  I don't like him that much, but Angelides is a tool.  A rusty, John Kerry-like tool who has already declared he will raise my taxes.

Lt. Gov -- Tom McClintock.  Again, not entirely my cup of tea, but Garamendi is also a tool and is covered under the general rule of thumb above.

Sec. State -- Bruce McPherson.  Who is he, you ask?  Well he's the incumbent who stepped in and cleaned up the huge freaking mess Kevin Shelley left behind, and without a lot of press.  Go Bruce.

Attorney General -- This is a toughie.  Poochigian is a class A DICKHEAD.  A career politician that the rule of thumb applies to.  But then again, so is Jerry Brown.  And Brown was responsible for Rose Bird.  Yeah, that Rose Bird.  So I guess Poochigian it is.  I wish I could just vote NO.

Insurance Commissioner-- Steve Poizner. The rule of thumb above was WRITTEN for Cruz Bustamonte.  I mean, do you really want someone SO DESPERATE TO STAY IN OFFICE that they're willing to go from Lt. Gov to freaking INSURANCE COMMISSIONER????  Not to mention he couldn't come up with a better campaign slogan than "I lost weight, I can keep my promises."

Controller-- Tony Strickland.  He sued Gray Davis for the secret dealings that led to the rolling blackouts.  He knows corruption when he sees it.

Treasurer-- Claude Parrish.  Bill Lockyer is currently Attorney General, so he falls into the same category as our friends Cruz Bustamonte and John Garamendi:  Desperate Housewives Career Politicians who get no votes from me.

US Senate-- Dianne Feinstein.  I dislike her, I really do, but I don't think Dick Mountjoy is really the best candidate.  What I want to know is why the Republican party in this state always puts the more electable candidates up against Feinstein.  She's the conservative one.  A Republican has a hell of a lot better shot against crazy ass Barbara Boxer. If Mountjoy had a chance of winning, I'd vote for him just to switch the seat over to the Red side, but that ain't gonna happen, so I'll smile and vote for Dianne and thank God that she's not Barbara Boxer, part II.

State Ballot Measures:
1A-1E: YES.  I realize that bond measures aren't always the best way to go about funding these projects, but it increases the revenue stream in the short term to get a number of BADLY needed projects going, including freeway improvements and education programs.  For example, 1D sets aside funds to build new school buildings from elementary through college, pays for new science labs and equipment, and restores CA's badly needed vocational education programs, which have all but disappeared in the last decade.
83-- YES.  Jessica's Law: Increased restrictions and monitoring for sex offenders
84-- NO  Do we need this right now?
85-- YES Parental Notification is NOT CONSENT
86-- HELL F*CK NO.  This is a revenue direction scheme masquerading as a cigarette tax.  When several professional medical associations line up AGAINST an anti-smoking measure, it probably sucks.  This one sure does.
87-- HELL F*CK NO AGAIN.  This is that alternative energy thing Bill Clinton is shilling for.  Frankly, it will only end up raising our gas prices and taxes.  It will bankrupt the CA economy by making it too expensive to do business here.
88-- NO WAY JOSE -- Increases property taxes in attempt to circumvent Prop 13.  If it wasn't for Prop 13, my parents wouldn't be able to afford to own their home.  Would you??
89-- NO.  More regulations won't clean up corrupt politicians.  Period. Perhaps poison...
90-- YES.  This is CA's Kelo response.  Keep your hands off my body AND my property.

Or you can just do your duty as a Californian and vote NO on everything, since you didn't really even pay attention to which measure was which in the first place.....

Posted by caltechgirl at 05:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 09, 2006

Happy Birthday!

To one of my favorite sailors, who was a day past his 16th bithday when I arrived myself.

I found a special cake for ya, Lex. Enjoy!

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:03 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 13, 2006

A Great idea for Christmas

As some of you who have participated in the Soldier's Angels online auctions know well, Holly Aho is a fabulous artist.  Well, Holly has just opened an online store featuring her art, including her paintings and handcrafted jewelery.

There are lots of beautiful things on display, and some great ideas for holiday gifts.

She's also having a referral contest to win gift certificates for the store:

Here's how it works. Use your blog (or website) to refer visitors to the SAHA Store, and win a $5 gift certificate per 250 visitors you refered.

Sound good? It gets better. Each time a visitor you refered to the store makes a purchase you get an additional $5 gift certificate.

Lastly....After 2 weeks the blog/website with the most referals will win a $50 gift certificate to the store!

I don't usually do blog ads, as you know, but I love Holly's work and she's been a tireless supporter of our troops and their families.  So a button linking to the store is up on the left sidebar.  If you'd like to link Holly's store and maybe win some gift certificates  of your own, the instructions for getting the button are here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When cool things happen to awesome people

My friend Val Prieto  just got some serious validation that what he is doing at Babalu is getting the message of Cuba out there!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Prayers and thoughts needed

If you have a moment, please take some time to ask the deity of your choice to intervene and send peace and healing to RP's family, as his mother undergoes surgery today to remove what was originally thought to be a pre-cancerous lump in her breast, but which turned out to be stage 2 breast cancer.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 16, 2006

Good Night, Uncle Miltie

Milton Friedman, economist, Nobel Laureate, and Patriot is dead at age 94.

Friedman offered blunt advice on subjects as personal as laws against prostitution (he saw them as incursions into individual choice) and as sweeping as the international system of relatively fixed exchange rates, which he sought to overturn and which did collapse in the early 1970s.

He became the human face of the influential "Chicago school" of economics, emphasizing the role of monetary policy, which affects interest rates, and the benefits of laissez-faire or free-market approaches to the economy.

Political leaders listened, granting almost unparalleled influence to a capitalist icon whose free-market emphasis had once seemed out of step with his times. The rise of Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher brought Friedman fans to seats of national power.

Later, some would see the inspiration of Friedman behind moves of former Soviet governments, the People's Republic of China and other nations to stake more of their future on a private sector.
Although he his best known for his theory of Monetarism, MIlton Friedman was a true Libertarian who believed in personal choice as a social and economic force.  He was a fierce advocate of legalizing drugs and prostitution as a deterrent to crime and a staunch advocate of school choice for elementary and high school students.  His adherence to personal choice more than once put him on the wrong side of the fence with his closest political allies, including President Ronald Reagan.

More on Mr. Friedman here.

And, like he needs MORE linkage, but Insty has a nice round up with links to some writings and several interviews with Dr. Friedman. Also, Steven Leavitt (yes, that one) has some thoughts up at the Freakonomics blog.

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 28, 2006

work work work

At a three day work retreat.  If you have keys, jump in and post!

Back Friday!

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:14 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 31, 2006

Screw the Broncos

That is all.

I guess I don't give a rat's a$$ about the playoffs this year then.

Posted by caltechgirl at 05:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 12, 2007

For the NaNoWriMo Crowd..

Here's a contest for those of you aspiring to be famous authors....

A major U.S. book publisher is hoping its new Web-based writing contest can tap into the popularity of interactive competitions like hit television show "American Idol."

As part of the "First Chapters" contest, aspiring first-time authors and members of www.gather.com can post manuscripts on that social-networking Web site, organizers from publisher Touchstone Fireside and gather.com said on Thursday.

The details are here.

Looks interesting!

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 16, 2007

Happy Birth-day

Jesse "Speaks" arrived safely into the world via C-section at 3 am Tuesday January 16, 2007

7lbs 5oz, 20 1/4 in long, dark brown hair

Mom, Dad, and Baby are all doing well!

Jesse is really adorable.  Drop by Jen's page to see baby's first photos and leave them your best!

And many thanks to Aunt Jaynee for springing the news!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2007

Waiting for Matthew.....

I got a text about 10 minutes ago saying the following:

Im in labor 6cm, contractions R 2 to 3 min  apart

Looks like Matthew is determined to be a January Baby too!

UPDATE: He's Here!

Matthew Dylan Dufau

Janury 30, 2007, 1:27 pm

Congratulations to Mom Mandy, Dad Eric, and Big Brother Brandon!

More details as they come in!

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 05, 2007

Super Bowl aftermath


Happy for the Colts, but man what a crappy game. The score was close for a while, but the Colts ran up and down the field on the Bears.

And the commercials pretty much sucked. 24 hours out here's what I remember: Carlos Mencia was funny. I liked the Dalmation ad. And the two animated Coke Ads were pretty sweet.

In the "funny once, but I don't care if I ever see them again" category: Bud Light: No Fist Bump, Sprint's Connectile Dysfunction, and the Garmin Mapasaurus.

DH liked the Tundra ad with the cliff stop. A lot.

In the "vomitaceous" category we have Dave and Oprah in "Honey", Dave and Dr. Phil (all), that Blockbuster ad with the poor little mouse, and especially the Snickers commercial.

Boy that was a BRIGHT idea, Snickers people.  Sell a SNACK FOOD with a commercial that makes people barf. BRILLIANT.

And what kind of rock is this guy under?

No commercial that appeared last night during Super Bowl XLI directly addressed Iraq, unlike a patriotic spot for Budweiser beer that ran during the game two years ago. But the ongoing war seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year's commercials.

More than a dozen spots celebrated violence in an exaggerated, cartoonlike vein that was intended to be humorous, but often came across as cruel or callous.
It was as if Madison Avenue were channeling Doc in "West Side Story," the gentle owner of the candy store in the neighborhood that the two street gangs, the Jets and Sharks, fight over. "Why do you kids live like there's a war on?" Doc asks plaintively. (Well, Doc, this time, there is.)
Give me a freaking break. This is reaching so far that somebody's gonna get hurt when Gumby-boy snaps back into reality. About the most redeeming thing related to this article is that if you click over, several commercials are linked on the NY Times page. Including KFed's spot for Nationwide Insurance, which I intentionally hadn't seen, and which I laughed at.

In case you haven't seen them, most of the commercials can be found at CBS SportsLine.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 21, 2007

Gardasil: doesn't protect against HPV or cancer?

Turns out one of the main reasons that Merck is backing off on the Gardasil lobby is that the vaccinations as recommended may be pointless:

Lawmakers looking to force preteen girls to take Gardasil, a new vaccine against a virus that causes cervical cancer, are targeting the wrong age group, cancer data shows.

Middle-school girls inoculated with the breakthrough vaccine will be no older than 18 when they pass Gardasil’s five-year window of proven effectiveness — more than a decade before the typical cancer patient contracts the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). emphasis mine --Ed.

Gardasil is currently only FDA approved for girls and women age 12-26, and is therefore not KNOWN to be effective at the age when the majority of HPV  infections occur and HPV-related cancers are diagnosed for ANY woman receiving the vaccine, under current guidelines.

This is why I (and MANY medical professionals) am against mandating this vaccine.  All of this bandwagon science in the name of "the children" completely jumped the gun on this one.  If there is no evidence that the vaccine will even protect these girls from this virus or subsequent cervical cancer at the age when many of them will contract it, then why should we subject our daughters to the potential hazards and side effects of the injections?

Nurse and Cotillion sister Raven has a lot more in her very thoughtful post:

Far be it for me to say, but with the known side effects being reported so far, from doctors who have given the shots to young girls, I question it’s worth. Reports of seizures, blindness, episodes of passing out, tremors, memory problems, vision loss-are coming in at an alarming rate. Are these true side effects of the vaccine, or just the bad luck of coincidence for the young ladies? We don’t know, yet. It takes many years of data collection and analysis to come up with an honest, medically sound answer.

One thing we do know: Condoms prevent the spread of ALL forms of HPV. Period. As well as other viral infections and disease. They’re much cheaper and don’t cause the serious side effects drugs cause. Why are little girls being mandated to get vaccinations that cause them harm, that do not guarantee freedom from the very disease the vaccine is said to protect against when we could mandate condom use for boys? Don’t answer that because I know it’s a stupid question. But for the love of GAWD people…do we see a problem here?

Read the whole thing!

Posted by caltechgirl at 04:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Walter Reed Fracas

By now if you read any MilBloggers, you probably have heard about the "outpatient mess" at Walter Reed and all of the subsequent blame being shifted around because of it.

Blogger and Walter Reed frequent flyer CPT. Chuck Ziegenfuss has some interesting things to add to the debate:

Look at the charities who help the wounded--whether flying them or their families to hospitals, making Velcro clothes so they can dress themselves, helping to take care of the soldier's kids, getting them a drastically discounted rental vehicle so they can get from hospital to hotel and back, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam. Every single gap that a charity had to fill equates to a leadership failure--a failure to recognize the unique needs of the soldiers and their families. Please don't misconstrue this as my dislike of charities, the exact opposite is true, they are lifesavers. But when a wounded soldier has to rely on the sympathy and charity of others to simply live day to day, to meet his most basic needs, then the Army, and the government as a whole, has failed them.

As a leader in the Army, who has gone through this system, I SHOULDER PART OF THE BLAME FOR NOT TRYING TO FIX THE PROBLEM. I left my brothers behind, and got myself home. After recovery, I moved on to other things, even though the complaints made today are the same as they were 2 years ago. Families are in the dark, medhold is a ridiculous and poor taste joke and apparent cover-your-ass move by the chain of command. I am an officer. I am a leader. By allowing this to happen, and continue to happen, I am at fault for not getting it fixed earlier or fixing it myself.

Other people who share the blame: The soldiers and family members who didn't use normal channels, like the Inspector General, the Chain of Command, or even letters to congressmen to fix the problem. They ran to the press, and embarrassed the Army. The chain of command, and more to the point, the NCO support channel and "chain of concern." Every Sergeant from the newly-minted Corporal to the Command Sergeant Major is tasked with looking out for the health, safety, and welfare of the soldier, and advising the command on the soldier's needs. As a matter of fact the ONLY role of a Command Sergeant Major is to advise the commander on enlisted matters. Clearly, the ignorance of these issues by the chain of command indicated an extreme dereliction of duty on the part of the Non Commissioned Officer (Hey CSM: maybe if you'd spent more time with the soldiers at the Mologne house, Fisher house, and other places the wounded congregate, instead of chasing me another 25 feet up the hill to the designated smoking area; or making sure that there were plenty of signs in the right areas to tell people they couldn't smoke there.)

Maybe you, hospital commander, and all of your high-ranking staff could move your designated parking spots to the other side of post, forcing yourselves to walk up and down the hill to the Mologne house every day, through winter's ice and snow, spring's rain, and summer's heat, just like the men on prosthetic legs and wheelchairs do. (But hey, thanks bunches for the chain link handrail, it sure does come in handy when trying to pull yourself up the hill.

As a company commander, I made time to walk through my billets, and even in combat I made soldier's living conditions a priority. I agree with Dr. Harvey. The command is to blame for this. I will accept the challenge of fixing it, assuming that I receive the commensurate promotion and pay raise. It'll be fixed in 6-12 months--but I need the authority to hire and fire anyone working on Walter Reed, military and civilian, to move people and organizations as I deem necessary, and the authority top bring in other officers and soldiers who I know will get the job done. (not that it'll happen, but hey, I'd take the job in a heartbeat.
As for getting that job done, Chuck's not alone.  There are plenty of folks who would be more than happy to pitch in.  Myself included.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 07, 2007

It's a Boy!

Welcome to the world,

Cole (Pilot) Blogger, Jr.

March 7, 2007, 8:02pm

7lb 14 Oz, 22 in long

Congrats to Dad Aaron and Mom Kelly!  He's cute as a button!  Pics here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 08, 2007

Mr. Humphries, no longer free

John Inman, best known as the ambiguously gay Mr. Humphries on the BBC series Are You Being Served? has passed away.

Actor John Inman,  died aged 71 on Thursday.

Inman, who later became a pantomime regular, was one of the sitcom's most memorable cast members and his catchphrase "I'm free" became part of popular culture.

In 1976, he was voted "Funniest Man On Television" by readers of TV Times magazine and was also named BBC TV's "Personality Of The Year."

He died at St Mary's Hospital in London after having been ill for some time, his manager Phil Dale said in a statement.

"John, through his character Mr Humphries of Are You Being Served? was known and loved throughout the world," Dale said.

Here's Mr. Inman at his best:

Rest in Peace, Mr. Humphries. You were always my favorite.

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 12, 2007

Happy Birthday!

To one of the sweetest ladies in the blogosphere!

Happy Birthday Beth D!

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2007

Big Double Birthday Happy!

Happy Birthday to my very good friend S, who sometimes comments here as ZTZCheese....

And also Happy Birthday to HooahWife Greta,the Cotillion's little Big Sister!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:26 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I am so Proud!

I am currently #1 on Google for "i support communism"...

...for a post entitled "Don't support Communism".

And it's not a googlebomb.

Yay me!

Oh, and BTW, Communism sucks.  Big Ugly Donkey Balls.  That is all.

Posted by caltechgirl at 05:38 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 26, 2007

Tears in (Blue) Heaven for Carolina's Mascot

Rameses the Ram has died.

Jason Ray as Rameses
Courtesy TarHeelBlue.com

Jason Ray, the Carolina senior who portrayed mascot Rameses the Ram during sports and other events over the last three years has died today of injuries he sustained last week in a bizarre car crash just before the Tar Heels' Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA tournament.

From ESPN.com:

Jason Ray [...] had been in critical condition since the accident on Route 4 on Friday afternoon. He had been in New Jersey for the men's NCAA Tournament game between North Carolina and Southern California at Continental Airlines Arena.

Steve Kirscher, UNC's associate athletics director for communications, said Ray died at 8:38 a.m. Monday.

According to police, Ray left his hotel to go to a nearby convenience store Friday afternoon, and was walking back along Route 4 when he was struck from behind by an SUV. The driver stopped immediately to call 911. No charges have been filed.

Police said Gagik Hovsepyan, 51, the driver who hit Ray, had a valid driver's license and did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. His son was asleep in the SUV at the time, police said.

To be clear, Jason was dressed in street clothes and was well off the main roadway at the time of the accident.

Jason had played the part of Rameses Ram for three years and was about to graduate with a degree in Business Administration, and a minor in Religion.  I myself have chased him around, hoping to get a picture with my favorite mascot.

Jason Ray as Rameses crowd surfs at UNC basketball, Coutesy TarHeelBlue.com
Carolina's official sports web page, TarHeelBlue.com has a nice tribute to Jason written by Adam Lucas:

Communication, of course, is one of the hardest parts of being a mascot. That fall day at the Children's Hospital, Ray--as Rameses--walked up to me. His big paw was grasping a folded piece of paper, and he was making a motion I didn't understand.

I eventually figured out he wanted me to hold the paper for him until the event was over. Once all the kids had been hugged and the last picture had been taken, Rameses finally disappeared...and Jason Ray reappeared.

"Thanks for holding that picture," he said. As he unfolded it, he proudly displayed a child's drawing of Rameses.

"I'd like to take this with me, if that's OK," he told the program coordinator. "One of the patients gave it to me."

Then he walked out, big bulky trash bag in one hand, picture in the other. It was the perfect portrait of someone who had spent most of the day giving...and unexpectedly received something, too.

Jason was clearly that kind of person.  It showed in the way he portrayed Rameses.  Always kind to the children, funny with adults, willing to play the joke on himself if it entertained the crowd.  I never met Jason, or his predecessors in the suit during my time at UNC, but I always wished I could let them know that I respected them as much as the players on the field or court.  Being the mascot is a really tough job.

This is the second terrible roadside tragedy to hit the Tar Heel sports family in four years.  Sideline reporter and UNC alum Stephen Gates was killed in a hit and run on the side of the interstate in Chapel Hill in October 2003.

This just highlights the importance of roadside safety.  Be aware, use the sidewalk where possible, and remember Jason and Stephen.

God Bless the Ray family.  Rest In Peace, Jason.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:55 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 27, 2007

Lintefiniel Birthday

It's happy happy birthday to Lintefiniel Jen!

Here's hoping you have a wonderful day that includes some YUMMY cake, even though your party was this weekend!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 04, 2007

Now this is more like it

I would use some cliche title like "Fat and Happy" but that would insult ME, so I didn't.

This so perfectly expresses my attitude about my body. 

Fat happens.  Get over it.  Yes, I can diet and exercise. In fact, I do.  But my body happens to LIKE being this size, I guess.  So what?  Why should you care?  Projecting YOUR insecurities on me, huh?  I'm happy, my husband thinks I'm sexy, and the doctor says I'm 100% healthy except for a disease that has NOTHING to do with my weight.

So why should I waste my time being upset about it?  Seriously.

As my buddy Cartman once put it, "I'm not fat, I'm festively plump."
h/t RG

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:11 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Freeform Fiction with Phoenix

Phoenix has a new fiction challenge up.  1,000 words inspired by 3 pictures.  Due Friday April 13.

I think I already have an opening sentence....

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

It's not often when you know the genesis of a story idea

...and you don't even know the reporter.

But this story, from Sunday's Raleigh News and Observer, well, it's not hard.

Hispanic DWIs rooted in immigrants' culture

When Eliseo Hernandez came to the United States 30 years ago, he thought he drove better after a few beers. Driving drunk had been normal back in Mexico, he said. But Hernandez, 54, learned of its perils firsthand. He quit the practice after falling asleep at the wheel and hitting a tree 18 years ago.

Then, last year, a young Hispanic man who authorities say was drunk nearly killed Hernandez's only son, Diego, in a crash on a rural Johnston County road. Eliseo Hernandez's daughter, who was nine months pregnant, lost her unborn child in the accident.

Hernandez has spent the past year following Diego through four hospitals and 14 brain surgeries. Diego only recently began to smile again and might never walk.

Hernandez said he hopes his painful journey will teach his friends and family a lesson. Car accidents are the top killer of Hispanics in North Carolina, and the disproportionate number of alcohol-related arrests and wrecks are an embarrassment to a minority already beleaguered by hard feelings over illegal immigration.

"It makes the Mexicans look bad, very bad," Hernandez said. "The American people say 'Oh, it's just another Hispanic, the same as the others.' "

It was a commonly held assumption among the Orange County sheriff's deputies and other local cops that a hispanic man driving to the ABC (state-owned liquor store) was probably already drunk.  And that if you pulled over a hispanic man, chances are he would fail a roadside sobriety test.

DWIs are far higher among hispanics than any other culture in NC, and for a while this was seen as racial profiling by police and State Troopers.  In CA, many times the DWI hispanic driver is also an illegal alien. Interesting now to see this article owning that DWI/DUI is sometimes part of the culture.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 05, 2007

This gives a WHOLE NEW MEANING to the "troll under the bridge"

Let's put it this way, if I was the mama Billy Goat Gruff, I wouldn't go near this bridge myself, let alone the little BGG....

Paroled sex offenders living under Miami highway bridge
MIAMI -- Several paroled sex offenders are living under a noisy highway bridge and fending off rats each night, because they cannot find housing in compliance with strict county ordinances for violators, state officials and one of the men said Thursday.

At least three men are making their home under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, which connects Miami with neighboring Miami Beach, said Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the Florida Corrections Department. One of the men under the bridge said he was among five.

The state decided they could live under the bridge because the men were unable to find housing they could afford and that did not violate Miami-Dade county rules, which say sex offenders must live at least 2,500 feet from places children gather.

They must stay there between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. because a parole officer checks on them nearly every night, Plessinger said.

"This is not an ideal situation for anybody, but at this point we don't have any other options," Plessinger said. "We're still looking, the offenders are still actively searching for residences."


"This is an injustice," said the man who wouldn't give his name. "I completed my sentence."

The man refused to discuss the crime that landed him under the bridge, but state records show a host of offenses for the men who live there: sexual battery, molestation, abuse, grand theft. Many of the crimes are against children.

"Public safety is our main focus and we feel like public safety is being achieved in these individuals," Plessinger said. "But this is a problem that is going to have to be addressed. If we drive these offenders so far underground or we can't supervise them because they become so transient it's not making us safer."

Most homeless shelters won't take the men, Plessinger said, because they're sex offenders. One that would is within the prohibited range of a school or daycare center. She said one of the men, for example, found dozens of residences he was happy to live in, but parole officers vetoed all of them because they violated county rules.

Plessinger said she believed the state first authorized sex offenders to live under a bridge last June. Before the causeway, some of the men lived under a bridge in downtown Miami. They were forced to leave, Plessinger said, when it was determined they were within range of a daycare center.

The man under the causeway on Thursday said he had been there for about six weeks. He said he fears for his life.

Here's the creepy part:

Ironically, putting the men here hasn't kept them out of reach of children. On Thursday afternoon, down the concrete slope from the men's makeshift home, a family with young children played in the bay next to their boat, oblivious to the sex offenders who call a place under a bridge their home. (emphasis mine, --Ed.)
Personally,I could give a crap that they can't find a place to live.  Shoulda thought of that BEFORE you raped or molested, asshole.  Living with rats is HIGHLY appropriate for this kind of vermin.

At least the state isn't putting them up at taxpayers' expense.  Out of prison, off the taxpayers' dole and still living in shit.  Nice Job.

h/t LindaSoG
Posted by caltechgirl at 09:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 14, 2007

Saturday F**k Off

The answer was no.

Their counteroffer was $10,000 over asking plus lots of cash up front, in other words, F**K OFF, we don't want to sell to you.  Or anyone else, evidently.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:45 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 22, 2007

F*cking Turkish Pigs

No Armenian genocide, huh?

Tell that to my grandparents.  Tell that to my Dad's stepmother, who saved her seven children by WALKING from the mountains of Turkey all the way to Beirut, dressed as an Arab widow.  WALKING.  With seven children.  Hundreds of miles on dirt roads with no shoes, cutting across country to avoid the soldiers.  Stopping and doing sewing jobs for money whenever they could.

You pigs say that 4 million Turks died?  Could that be because you're counting the Armenians born in Turkey?

Whole villages, rousted from their beds in the middle of the night. All of the men and boys made to line up in the town square, and then SHOT one by one.  The women and girls raped by turkish soldiers.  The survivors starved to death slowly.

I'll have more on this on April 24, Armenian Martyr's day.  Until then I leave you with the words Adolf Hitler used to justify the holocaust:

"Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
h/t Kyle

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 05, 2007

Ask Fred...

Not invited to tonight's debate, but I'm sure he'll have something INTERESTING to say.

Fred will be on Hannity and Colmes (known as "Sean and Fish Face" in our house) tonight after the debate.

Frank J (another Thompsoniac) says:

Fred Thompson will be on Hannity & Colmes after the Republican debate that's going on as I type. My suggestion for what he should say:

"It was a great debate, but there's one thing I can say that none of those candidates can..."

He turns to face the camera and it zooms for a close up.

"I'm Fred Thompson."

Woo Hoo! Run, Fred, Run! He's already #2 in the polls, and he hasn't even declared yet!

Oh, and as for Scarborough's comments on Jeri Kehn Thompson: Get a life, jackoff. How would you like it if someone asked if your wife or mother "worked the pole"?

One more, here's an interesting Fred story from John Fund in today's Opinion Journal.

Yeah, yeah, I know I said I wasn't going to post, but I had to tell you to watch FRED.

Posted by caltechgirl at 05:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 06, 2007

Educating Boys

Thirty years ago all the buzz was about girls falling behind academically.  We HAD to fix that.  Change the classrooms.  Make them more girl-friendly.  Give the girls more role models, more chances.  Affirmative action for girls, right?

Well, it looks like we did TOO good a job.  As this article points out, boys are now falling far behind girls, and are testing at a lower level than they were 35 years ago.

“Boys are in trouble,” said Krista Kafer, visiting fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum. “The facts are quite clear; boys trail girls in most indicators of academic excellence such as, school engagement, achievement scores, and graduation rates at secondary and postsecondary levels.” Kafer presented these facts in her latest IWF position paper, Taking the Boy Crisis in Education Seriously: How School Choice Can Boost Achievement Among Boys and Girls.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, shows an overwhelming amount of data that supports Kafer’s theory. Take a look:
* A 2005 NAEP study revealed that a third of 12th grade boys cannot read a newspaper and understand what they are reading.
* The NAEP “Long-Term Trend Test” (started in 1971 and has remained unchanged to better track academic trends over time) showed that at age 17 boys’ reading achievement was fourteen points lower than girls’ and in fact is lower than it was in 1971.
* The same test also shows that scores for the 12th grade reveal that in math, girls have improved while boys have slipped. In reading, girls have improved a little while boys have fallen behind even more.
As an instructor of young women and young men, it is clear to me that while there are differences between boys and girls in the way they learn, there are no real generalizations that can be made about "boys" or "girls".  Each student has a unique learning style, and each student responds best to different types of instruction.  In the past, girls often received less encouragement at home with regard to school achievement, but these days, most kids receive very little positive reinforcement of their academic achievements, boy or girl.  If they do hear about grades, it's often a demand or other negative form of reinforcement.

The best thing that parents can do is be involved enough in their child's education to know what stimulates them to learn best, and work with the teacher to give the child opportunities to experience that kind of instruction, at home or at school. And parents should also be aware that this pro-girl thinking has clearly shaped modern pedagogy, and not completely in a bad way, especially parents of boys.

h/t the venomous one

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 09, 2007

Don't f*cking ask

Profanity alert!

My dear friend wRitErsbLock wrote something this morning that struck a nerve with me. She writes:

Do not ask people "when are you going to start having children?"

It might just be a very, very sore subject for the couple.

Maybe one wants children while the other does not. Maybe you asking that question will cause the couple to have yet another fight about it later on.

Maybe the couple is unable to conceive and has been trying without success for quite some time. If so, you just helped plunge them back into despair.

Maybe the couple hates children and never plan to have any.

No matter where the couple is at, you are stepping into dangerous water when you ask the question. It's none of your business. And you are running a risk of either angering the couple or upsetting them. So just don't ask.

Very succinct. About the only thing she didn't mention is maybe the couple has medical issues that must be resolved first.....

People really fuck me off when they ask this kind of shit. It may take a village to raise a child, but does the entire village need to know the details of the conception and whether or not the child was wanted, planned, or a complete surprise? Does the whole village need to know why?

It's amazing to me how the most private and significant moments in our lives, and their accordant choices seem to be public fodder: who we marry (or not, as the case may be), whether we parent, and how we parent. People pop out of the woodwork with advice and questions better for weddings and babies than any other event I've ever seen. Every new mom or mom-to-be that I know has been made to feel pathetic for one choice or another with regard to her baby.

And you know what else fucks me over? A lot of these nosy nellies are the same bitches who go around screaming, 'My Body, My Choice" but then they want to censor your right to do the SAME FUCKING THING if your choices don't agree with their holy-anointed-best-for-the-child-best-for-the-world-happy-shiny BS.

AUUUGH. Get over yourselves, people

With regard to WB's post, the real answer is this: You shouldn't have to ask. If you know me well enough to PRESUME to ask such questions, you should already know the answer. So if you're even considering asking those kinds of questions, that should serve as your notice that I don't want you to know.

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:12 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 13, 2007

Charlotte Mayor won't apologize for telling the truth

Pat McCrory, Mayor of Charlotte NC tells it like it is:

The NAACP wants Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory to apologize for remarks he made about African American youth after last week's arrests during Fourth of July festivities in uptown.

Ken White, president of the Charlotte Branch of the NAACP, on Wednesday called the mayor's comments "insensitive" and said he's concerned they painted "African American youth with a broad swath that cuts deep in many of our communities."

McCrory's comments came July 5 in a letter to the city manager congratulating police on their efforts the night before, when 169 people were arrested in uptown. McCrory also wrote that "too many of our youth, primarily African American, are imitating and/or participating in a gangster type of dress, attitude, behavior and action."

Later Wednesday, McCrory said he won't apologize.

Why not?

"Because my comments were accurate. Period."

Mayor McCrory's comments, as discussed above, were in regards to many arrests at the city's 4th of July celebration. From the Charlotte Observer:
The uptown crowd was primarily African American, as were most of those arrested: Of 143 adults arrested, 122 were black. Police later noted that those arrested comprised fewer than 1 percent of the uptown revelers.
Mayor McCrory went on to explain both his statements, and why he refuses to apologize:
McCrory ... cited statistics showing more than 60 percent of Charlotte's gang members are African American. And, he said, the victims of gang violence also tend to be black.

"One thing we agree on is that it is a horrible stereotype," McCrory said, "but it's being perpetuated by those who continue to dress like, behave like and act like gang members. It's not productive to our community, our neighborhoods, our schools, or to those individuals who are doing it."

Kudos for Mayor McCrory for saying the truth, and refusing to back down from it. Too often in this society our leaders back down from a stand because powerful opposition groups (in this case the NAACP) start threatening them.

But I must echo LaShawn Barber and ask: When did it become more of a crime in this country to SAY that something is wrong, than to do the wrong thing?

LaShawn goes on:

Too many black youth eschew education and decent living, while embracing a lifestyle that glorifies criminal activity, triflingness (yes, theres such a word), and having illicit and zero-responsibility sex with as many women as possible. The resultant children are sentenced to fatherless homes and instability. That, too, makes me sick to my stomach.


Blacks cannot complain about what white people may or may not be doing to them when they dont even care about their own children. Ive lost patience with it, and I advise everybody no matter what color you are to stop being afraid of the truth or of black people making demands. Take it from an insider: the bark, as loud and annoying as it is, is much worse than the bite.

It's my hope that more of our leaders, of ALL colors, stand up and ask the tough questions and give the tough answers about what's wrong in our communities, following Pat McCrory's example.

Posted by caltechgirl at 04:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 06, 2007

Bullets Over Pasadena

Or, I have a lot to say and not much time....

-- So we did a LOT of home improvement type stuff this weekend. Here's a partial list: New bathroom sink, new bathroom light fixture, new TP holder attached to sink cabinet, old TP holder and towel bar removed, wall heater removed, installed two new light fixtures, repaired the old ceiling fan in our den (it still squeaks, but we're no longer afraid it will detach itself from the ceiling and careen around the room) replaced the dimmer switch in dining room, and prepped our ceiling for the ceiling fan we bought. Today, hubby did the exterior paint touch up work left from the termite repair work and cleaned out and re-seated the rain gutters. Next up: shelves in the linen closet, two ceiling fans, a chandelier in the dining room, and paint touch-ups. I'll get some pictures up soon. Now that 90% of the crap is put away, it's easier to do these silly little things that take so long and make you so frustrated....

-- Thursday night we went to the Dodgers/Giants game. The Dodgers' staff are super nice and helpful when you have obnoxious idiots in your section. Everyone in our section thinks they asked us to leave for asking them to remove people, but guess what? This "fat fucking bitch" (yes, that's what she called me) got better seats in another section for the rest of the game thanks to you being an asshole. Oh, and Barry still sucks.

--We're WAAAAY behind on TV. I've got about 12 hours of catch up from this week's TV (we just got through The Closer from Monday, and we watch that religiously! Usually we see it on Monday or Tuesday at the latest)... Mom and Dad were here Wednesday to Sunday (we took them to the game, and Dad helped with the various bathroom projects), and that also cut into TV time.

--We've been having a visitor of another sort as well. Guest blogger/ frequent commenter/ buddy ZTZCheese and her hubby are on vacation, and their bearded dragon has been living on our patio, eating his worms and soaking up the sunshine. Pictures soon if I get the ok from his humans.

-- I missed a bunch of people's birthdays this last week. Sorry guys. I was a little out of it. Much love to all of you. You know who you are.

Posted by caltechgirl at 05:00 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

August 18, 2007

Tell me this is more than just a rumor!

JK Rowling may have picked up her pen again.....

J.K. Rowling has been spotted at cafes in Scotland working on a detective novel, a British newspaper reported Saturday.

The Sunday Times newspaper quoted Ian Rankin, a fellow author and neighbor of Rowling's, as saying the creator of the "Harry Potter" books is turning to crime fiction.

"My wife spotted her writing her Edinburgh criminal detective novel," the newspaper, which was available late Saturday, quoted Rankin as telling a reporter at an Edinburgh literary festival.

"It is great that she has not abandoned writing or Edinburgh cafes," said Rankin, who is known for his own police novels set in the historic Scottish city.

I love Scottish detective novels! And I love JKR, too. This ought to be AWESOME!

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 20, 2007

Michael Vick - The case explained

Over at Patterico's, guest blogger WLS does a great job of laying out the prosecutorial process in the Michael Vick case.

WLS explains the strategy of the superseding indictment, offense level, the possibility of sentence enhancement, the discretion of the judge in sentencing, and why the prosecution is pushing for a sentence of more than 12 months.

There's lots of great question and answer in the comments, too, so pop over and find out what you've been dying to know.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2007

PSA: Yahoo! Photos closing!

In case you hadn't heard, Yahoo! photos is closing because Yahoo! now owns Flickr, and they want to focus on Flickr.  However, according to this, if you choose to move your pictures to Flickr, Yahoo! Photos is going to free upgrade you to Flickr Pro for three months.  Sweet.

We'll see how that goes....  I of course chose Flickr, because I'm becoming obsessed with it.... and my 556 pictures uploaded to Yahoo! should have a nice home there.

I wonder if Tivo now supports Flickr.....

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 24, 2007

Ummmm, enough with the Pay to Blog crap, ok? (UPDATED)

I mean, I totally get that it's a great way to make extra $$ and I love all of you, but I swear to ALLAH, that if I see THE SAME DAMN ADVERTISEMENT on multiple blogs again I AM GOING TO QUIT READING BLOGS WITH PAID POSTS.

ESPECIALLY when they aren't labeled as sponsored posts. If some posts are labeled and some aren't, it can be annoying.

For example: wRitErsbLock and Mandy, and sarahk and Kate.


I wouldn't bitch, except this happened twice in 10 minutes. Sheesh.

Pam has an interesting discussion here in the comments. I said this:

The honesty issue bugs me, too. Thats one of the things that gets to me. I mean, why is someone who I know to be a homebody suddenly dreaming about Vegas? Or a healthy person expounding on the virtues of lap band surgery? Which is why the NOT labeling posts gets to me, too. It seems dishonest. Especially when other posts are clearly labeled as sponsored posts.

What set me off the other day, though, was multiple posts on the same advertisers. It was just too weird.

I know some of you were upset and unhappy with what you felt was me pointing fingers, and I'm sorry if you were offended by what I said, originally, and I have edited myself. Clearly though, this is an issue that people care about.

PS: Any of you with paid posts should know better. I'll be back. I'm an addict, after all. Just frustrated.

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:26 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

September 10, 2007

The first of this year's 9/11 posts

Eat this, truthers.

Dr Keith Seffen set out to test mathematically whether this chain reaction really could explain what happened in Lower Manhattan six years ago. The findings are published in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics.

Previous studies have tended to focus on the initial stages of collapse, showing that there was an initial, localised failure around the aircraft impact zones, and that this probably led to the progressive collapse of both structures.

Once the collapse began, it was destined to be "rapid and total."

In other words, the damaged parts of the tower were bound to fall down, but it was not clear why the undamaged building should have offered little resistance to these falling parts.

"The initiation part has been quantified by many people; but no one had put numbers on the progressive collapse," Dr Seffen told the BBC News website.

Dr Seffen was able to calculate the "residual capacity" of the undamaged building: that is, simply speaking, the ability of the undamaged structure to resist or comply with collapse.

His calculations suggest the residual capacity of the north and south towers was limited, and that once the collapse was set in motion, it would take only nine seconds for the building to go down.

This is just a little longer than a free-falling coin, dropped from the top of either tower, would take to reach the ground.


He added that his calculations showed this was a "very ordinary thing to happen" and that no other intervention, such as explosive charges laid inside the building, was needed to explain the behaviour of the buildings.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:55 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 11, 2007

It's Tuesday Morning again.....

I've started this post a thousand times in my head, each different, and yet what keeps coming back over and over is Tuesday.  It's Tuesday morning again.  September 11, Tuesday.  And I have go teach class.

September 11, 2001 was supposed to be the same way.  We were living in Chapel Hill, and a friend was visiting.  I had planned to take her to the airport in Raleigh before making my way to school to teach my lab section.  I didn't make that trip for almost three weeks.

I've told my story of that horrible day before.  That day that broke all of us inside.  That day that so many people are eager to forget, to push away the pain that makes it real, to scapegoat because that's easier than seeing the truth.

I think back a lot to how it used to be, how I used to be.  I was so different.  But something inside broke that day, sitting in my chair that I used to love, my big orange 1970's wing chair rocker, and watching people fall from the sky.

When I think back to 9/11/01, that's what I remember.  Not the buildings collapsing in a heap of ash, or the bright flash of a 747 hitting the side of the towers. Just  brave men and women choosing their own destiny, rather than waiting for the suffocating horror of flame and falling debris.  What a beautiful last gift to their loved ones: to know they didn't suffer, and that at the end, they were truly free.

Six years later, those images still haunt me.

But life goes on they say, and so must we. And here I am again.  Tuesday Morning.  September 11.  Only it's 2007 this time and I made it to school.  I taught my class and the lab that goes with it.  Had a meeting with my dean.  When I finish this, I'll make a cup of tea.

And yet, there's a part of me still sitting in that chair, unable to turn away from the news for weeks.  I left parts of me behind that day, and came away with something new.  Tougher maybe, sadder, more vigilant, and definitely PISSED OFF.  So pissed off I'm still mad today.

What makes me more angry though, are the ones who don't know, those who forgot, and the ones who seek to tarnish the truth through conspiracy theory and supposition.

The truth, my friends is this:  Evil exists.  We saw its hand on September 11, 2001, and still we feel its icy grip.

Forgetting this cheapens the memory of the ones we lost, the innocent, the heroes, and those left behind.

Yes, it's hard.  Staring evil in the face is the most difficult thing we can do in life.  Remembering who we've lost and what we've lost is just as hard.  But that doesn't excuse us from remembering, from hurting, from pausing every once in a while to think about what happened that day and vowing to never let it happen again.

There have been thousands of tributes, but I'll share with you MY favorite because it's message, in the end, is hope.

If the video won't work, click here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 21, 2007

Trust No One

Even the cops.  They might not be who you think they are....

The Los Angeles Police Department said Friday morning that officers had arrested a man who allegedly impersonated a police officer and robbed an elderly couple at knifepoint in their Reseda townhouse.


When the robber knocked on the couple's door, he identified himself as an officer and asked about an auto accident that they had been involved in earlier in the day. The robber pulled out a knife when he was asked to show identification.

What the article doesn't say, but which was reported live on KNBC's Today in LA program this morning, is that the thief didn't just identify himself as a cop.  He was wearing a dark blue uniform similar to LAPD, and came to the door posing as a traffic officer.  When the husband got nervous and asked for ID, he reached into his pocket and pulled a knife instead of credentials.

At first LAPD were afraid that the couple might have been targeted by information leaked from their office, however (and of course they didn't just come out and say this) it seems that the thief is linked to the accident.  What the police ARE saying is that the arrest is a DIRECT result of follow up on the accident investigation by Traffic Division.

Clearly this was a well-planned criminal endeavor.  The purchase of the uniform indicates that much.  So watch out.  There are assholes out there who will hit your car, get your information and come to your house late at night to rob you, posing as the police.

Some tips:
1.  If the police knock on your door, ALWAYS ask for Badge and ID.  A real policeman will generally offer it before you ask, or will hand it over without question.

2.  If you are still unsure, ask the policeman for a moment to verify the credentials.  It's ok to call 911 (or your local PD number if you have it handy) and verify the name and badge number as an on-duty officer assigned to come to your home.

3. If you are unsure that the car attempting to pull you over is a real policeman (unfortunately there were a number of sexual assaults in LA in the past with guys posing as cops...), put on your flashers, and get to a secure, well-lighted place with people around, such as a gas station, etc.  A real cop won't be put off when you explain your concern for your safety, and you just might deter a bad guy.

4.  If you are in an accident, insist the police come to the scene.  In many jurisdictions, including City of Los Angeles, the police have a system for collecting information from ALL parties, and keeping that confidential.  All the parties get is a five-digit case number, which, along with the officer's name and the date/time of the accident can be used by the INSURANCE company to get the accident report and the parties' personal information.  Actually, anyone with that information can get a copy of the report, but it costs around $20, a bad investment for a crook, generally.  Furthermore, if something like what happened to the couple in the story happens to you, if the police come to the accident scene, they already know where to find the bad guys.

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:49 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 23, 2007

A mime is a teriible thing to waste..

So let's take a minute to mourn the passing of the greatest mime ever, Marcel Marceau.

Marcel Marceau, the world's best-known mime artist who for decades moved audiences across the globe without uttering a single word, has died aged 84.

The Frenchman's extensive tours and appearances on camera brought his silent art to people around the world. His comic and tragic sketches appealed on a universal level, with each audience interpreting his performance in its own way.

"Mime, like music, knows neither borders nor nationalities," he once said. "If laughter and tears are the characteristics of humanity, all cultures are steeped in our discipline."

But Marceau was much more than a mime, he was a member of the French Resistance in WWII and later served in the French Army with the German Occupying Force after the war. The cause of his death is unknown at this time. Rest in Peace.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wii are the world....

We had decided a while back that what we wanted for our birthdays (5 days apart) was a Wii. But as most of you know, they are in scarce supply, and we had no idea when they would be shipping, or even if they would be in stock come November. To this end, we've been saving our pennies.

Well, Saturday afternoon, we made a quick trip to the local Tar-zhay, and on our way over to the Halloween section, we decided to duck into the Wii aisle on a whim. There were 7 white boxes on the bottom shelf of the case. Yep, they were in stock. Just in, too, according to the guy working there. Long story short, when we left the store, there were only 6 white boxes in the case. And the price was $50 less than what we were seeing them for previously. Woot!

So we spent basically the rest of the weekend proving that 30 year olds don't have teenage bodies anymore. Did I mention my right arm feels like I spent too much time on weights at the gym? But it was hella fun and I totally see how Wii could be a part of anyone's exercise regimen. Especially the boxing game in Wii Sports. That's quite a cardio workout, holding up your arms and punching...

Honestly, though, my favorite part is that I'm actually pretty good at some of this. Unlike games with the traditional controllers.

So I probably won't be around much this week....

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:49 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 27, 2007

I got nothing, but Fred sure does

You asked Fred what he stands for, asked him to lay it all out there. Well, here it is:

Anyone who has heard me speak knows my firm commitment to what I call "First Principles." These grow out of the documents of our Nation's founding and the wisdom of the ages. They are core beliefs that guide my approach to the issues that are crucial to our Nation's future. I believe in--

Individual Liberty . As Jefferson spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, our basic rights come from God, not from government, and that among these inalienable rights is the right to liberty. We must allow individuals to lead their lives with minimal government interference.

Personal Responsibility . The corollary to liberty is responsibility. No society can succeed and thrive for any duration unless free people act in a responsible way. All of us must take responsibility for our actions and strive to improve our own lives and to contribute to building a better society.

Free Markets . Free people are best equipped to order their own affairs, and the common interest benefits from and is improved by the aggregate success of all. We must reform our tax system, encourage investment, support entrepreneurial spirit, open markets abroad to American goods, and minimize burdensome government regulations to continue to expand the economy and bring increased wealth to all Americans give.

Limited Government . Government must be strong enough to protect us, competent enough to provide basic government services, but limited by the delineated powers in the Constitution.

Federalism . Our Constitution innovatively guarantees our liberties by spreading power among the three branches of the federal government, and between the federal government and the states. In considering any action by the government, we must always ask two questions: is the government better equipped than the private sector to perform the task and, if so, what level of government (federal or state) ought to do it. Washington is not the seat of all wisdom.

Protecting our Country . The first responsibility of the federal government is to protect the nation and the American people. There is no more important task. We must have a strong and effective military, capable intelligence services, and a vigorous law enforcement and homeland security capacity.

Traditional American Values . A healthy society is predicated on belief in God; respect for all life; strong families centered on the institution of marriage: the union of a man and a woman; and self-respect and tolerance of others. While we are all free to live our lives in the pursuit of our own happiness, the government has a responsibility to respect the right of parents to raise their children and to promote the values that produce the strongest society.

The Rule of Law . We protect our liberty, secure our rights, and promote a just and stable society through the rule of law. We owe to ourselves and our fellow citizens our own adherence to the rules, but tough law enforcement and punishment for those who do not. A free and independent judiciary that interprets the law by adhering strictly to legal text and respects its limited role in our system of government is essential to our security and freedom, and we need judges who understand that role if we are to preserve our republic and freedom.

Conserving Our Nation's Resources . Each of us is put on Earth for a limited period of time. We must always strive to ensure that the resources we use to lead our lives are here for future generations to enjoy and use as well.

We live in the greatest country on earth. We have been truly blessed. This blessing carries with it an obligation: to keep it that way and to leave this country at least as strong, prosperous, and united as when we entered it.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 28, 2007

In Quest of Democracy

Pray for the freedom of Burma:

picture by AndreSTGT
Where there is no justice there can be no secure peace.
...That just laws which uphold human rights are the necessary foundations of peace and security would be denied only by closed minds which interpret peace as the silence of all opposition and security as the assurance of their own power. The Burmese associate peace and security with coolness and shade:

The shade of a tree is cool indeed
The shade of parents is cooler
The shade of teachers is cooler still
The shade of the ruler is yet more cool
But coolest of all is the shade of the Buddha's teachings.

Thus to provide the people with the protective coolness of peace and security, rulers must observe the teachings of the Buddha. Central to these teachings are the concepts of truth, righteousness and loving kindness. It is government based on these very qualities that the people of Burma are seeking in their struggle for democracy.
-- Aung San Suu Kyi

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Pinky?

Linkies to things I'm thinking about today:

Lifehacker:  How to snazz up your presentations

Ricki: Work Ethic and college students (more on this from me later).  See also: here and here

It Comes in Pints?: Val is burning down the house with sponsored FFO's.

more later......

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 01, 2007

Me too, kitteh, me too.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2007

Happy Camera

The camera and I just spent some quality time together.  Results are up on Flickr, and are actually public, for the time being....

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:33 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

October 11, 2007

Dear Turkey,

Fuck off and Die. And that Honorary Turk, George Bush, can FOAD too.

That is all.


The Armenians

P.S. Remember who said "...Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"  It was some German dude named Adolf.

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:22 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 12, 2007

Top Ten signs I've gotten into Pasadena Politics...

I get all of these jokes....

Lifted shamelessly 100% from FCBlog.  For all you SoCaler's:

With all the talk about the Rose Parade and the China controversy and our fearless (?) leaders international dealings..it's time for another Top Ten.

From the home office in Beijing, China:

10. Chris Hansen's Dateline NBC Decoy Float For Internet Pedophiles
9. The Ad Hoc Committee On Floats Float
8. The Other Guy In Wham! Float
7. The Turkish-Armenian Friendship Float
6. The Float Put Together By PUSD Kids Who Get All F's
5. The Sid Tyler Float Of "Tobaccy & Shoe Polish"
4. Al-Qaeda's "Death To America" Float
3. Sock On Float
2. Anthony Portantino Ate My Float
1. Robin Salzer's Float Of Roses Smothered In Brown Mustard & BBQ Sauce

And you really should vote for Robin's.  Mmmmmmm Robin's.  We were there Wednesday night in fact.  I wonder.... if I say how much I love the Spud Skins (This is the ONLY way I will eat potato skin. And only at Robin's.) will Robin write me up in the next menu, too?

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October 18, 2007

Why Fred Thompson Rulz

My Mother always told me that people who pick on you are just jealous. Same applies to the Presidential race. Jackie Mason NAILS it:

h/t Fred, of course. Well, Sean Hackbarth blogging at Friends of Fred.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 19, 2007

Friday Nonsense

So last night we saw this week's South Park.  Every imaginary or animated character you can think of shows up, and more you didn't previously know.  Hubby and I ran it over and over and over, literally squealing at each new character that came on the screen.

So for your viewing pleasure, here's Imaginationland parts I-III (the usual South Park language and content warnings apply)....

Some interesting thoughts on terrorism, too, no?

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Do I get Extra Credit for this?

Like Ricki, I HATE that phrase. Hate it.

But EVERY student, without exception, seems to utter it at one point or another during the semester. And they'll go the extra mile to get it, too. Troy University Professor Richard Scott Nokes writes:

Why is it that students who wouldn't scratch their bottoms to get a final exam grade will do anything for extra credit? Last week, I had midterm exams, and many students put, at the most, an hour's worth of effort into the take-home project (worth 25% of their grade). This week I gave an opportunity for extra credit, worth only a tiny fraction of the midterm, and the students are meeting after class and going to the Writing Center to work on it. Maybe I should start calling my regular assignments "extra credit."(h/t Prof. Taylor)
I feel your pain, sir. My subject is biology, not medieval literature, but the students approach is EXACTLY the same.  They'll spend HOURS collaborating on a tiny piece of crap that is worth maybe 1-2% of their grade (if I'm feeling charitable), but brush off the actual studying.  Which is, you know, the basis of 100% of their grade.

Interested, I decided to see if anyone has written a scholarly article on extra credit, and the psychology behind why students prefer it over just doing their work.  A quick google search turned up page after page of syllabi with possible extra credit assignments from psychology classes at universities all over the country.

There are only a few articles looking at extra credit, and those look at it as a motivating factor, not why it is preferred.

(I put the rest of what turns out to be a longer piece than I had planned to write below the jump!)

Read More "Do I get Extra Credit for this?" »
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October 22, 2007

Southern California Fire Information Roudup

Dozens of wildfires all over the Southern California area.

View Larger Map

Most seem to be natural or accidental in nature (mostly from wind-downed high voltage lines), but the Santiago Canyon fire near Irvine was deliberately set. Bastards.

Fires in LA in October is as natural as Hurricanes in Florida in August. Northeasterly winds, called the Santa Anas bring hot dry air down from the high desert into the valleys and foothills, and well, it doesn't take much to start a big fire.

The LA Times has a good round-up and photo galleries. KCAL 9 is on the air live with updates, as new fires continue to pop up every hour or so in addition to the major fires in Malibu, Castaic, Canyon Country, San Diego, Irvine, Ontario, and Lake Arrowhead......

Here's links to information on School Closures and Evacuation Centers.

Folks with large animals can take them to the Ventura County Fairgrounds, the Orange County Fairgrounds, or Pierce College Equestrian Center. Bring Food, Water, Water Tubs, and Medicine. Many animal shelters and vet offices will care for smaller pets, too. Call around for information. In emergencies, pet owners can call (818) 991-6384 to set up an emergency rescue in the Malibu OR Agua Dulce areas. For more animal info, check here.

It goes without saying, folks, but if you're in the fire area, get out when they tell you to leave, and if you're not in a fire area, stay the hell out. The firefighters need to get in and out without having to drive around your looky-loo ass.

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October 23, 2007

San Diego Fire News

Joanie is almost literally liveblogging the fires from Northern San Diego County.  Lots of pictures, information, and links on her site.

Be sure to scroll down through the posts over the last few days!

Stay safe, Darlin'!

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 24, 2007

My Wii Story

How do you market a revolutionary product that crosses generational boundaries and reaches beyond its traditional audience successfully and efficiently? You simply let people tell their own stories. Nintendo is doing that at MyWiiStory.com. Possibly the smartest advertising campaign for a video game EVER.

It's easy to see why you might want a Wii in your home if you can read the stories of dozens of families and how the Wii has become an integral part of their family time, and even how it is a positive influence on their lives.

Yep. I said positive influence. From a video game.

Here's my favorite Wii Story (posted by Chris Whitaker):

My son brought his new Wii to Easter Dinner. My mother in law, Dorothy, was so impressed she wanted to buy one for each of nine grandchildren. She called and traveled East Tennessee and KY buying them where she could find one. She had purchased seven and needed two to complete her task. It was a stormy night in April, a tornado touched down in our neighborhood, two miles from Walmart. Dorothy, knowing the local Walmart was expecting some Wii's on this date, called to see if they had arrived. The sales associate said they had and she could get them tomorrow. Dorothy stated she would come now. The sales associate said, "maam we are having a tornado". Dorothy said, "I know but I'll be there anyway". She drove to Walmart during the tornado just to purchase your product. The tornado did over 1 million dollars damage across the street from Walmart, but no damage to my 71 year old mother in law as she walked out of the Walmart carrying her three Wii purchases (1 for herself).
Can you imagine?

And because I can't resist, one more (posted by Carol Toy):

My son found his Wii when we were in Oregon on vacation. That was the start of our awesome Wii story. Although the whole family and all our friends enjoy playing, the most amazing players are "Grandpa Bill" and "Grandma Bert". Both are in their 80's. Grandpa has Parkinson's disease, Grandma has difficulty walking without a cane. Both can be found staying up late swing a golf club with Tiger Woods or bowling with the Mii family my son has created. Grandpa has, since the Wii came into our life, returned to hitting real golf balls at the driving range and uses his "skills" from bowling in is real-life senior bowling league. The sequencing, use of controls, etc. is helping to keep us all more alert. The friendly competition, laughter and time spent together are priceless. Thank you Wii for getting us out of our chairs to enjoy each other while keeping minds and bodies active. Wii should be prescribed by physicians for the increased well-being of all types of patients!
I love it! I am just DYING to get my parents to play with us! Both of them were hella good bowlers back in the day (Dad even has a few 300 games to his credit) but with arthritis and knee replacements and everything else, they haven't bowled in years! I can't wait to bowl with them.

Here's my Wii story:

I'm a member of Generation X, or so they tell me. The video game generation, right? But not me. My parents refused to buy me a game console, and it turns out that was ok, because I am PATHETIC at traditional games. Oh, I can run the maps and mazes, and strategize with the best of them, but I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I can't use the traditional controllers. I can't run the joystick and hit the buttons and shoot and duck and everything else all at the same time. I used to be the backseat driver in Nintendo land. I would call the shots and point out the bad guys and bonuses to get and where to move, and someone else would work the controller. Wii changed all that. Yeah, there are traditional elements to the controller, and many games require you to do many things at once, but the way you hold and use the Wii remote and nunchuck controller makes it easier for me to play the games myself. And games like Wii Sports don't require all that coordination, just holding the remote.

My husband is amazed. His wife, who could never play a game harder than Yoshi, Kirby, or some other game designed for a 5 year old, is kicking his ass at real video games. And I don't bitch when he plays, because I get to play, too. I can't even tell you how much fun we have together playing Wii.

Wii is also the star at every get together. Even our least outgoing friends can't resist an evening of Wii. And let me say, for the record, that since half of the games are apparently designed simply to make the player look like an idiot using the Wii remote, Wii and alcohol go pretty well together (I suggest Wario Ware: Smooth Moves and Rayman's Raving Rabbids for drunk Wii-ing) just be sure to wear the wrist strap and drink responsibly! We've laughed harder (even sober!) at the Wii, and the person playing at the moment, than we have in a long time.

It's amazing how a small change in the hardware can make such a difference in way we use and appreciate the game console... Thanks, Nintendo, for making a game I can play, too!

Oh, and for the record, this is a personal, unpaid endorsement. LOVE my Wii, and I think the ad campaign is just SMART.

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 30, 2007

RIP Robert Goulet

Singer and actor Robert Goulet has passed away at age 73.

Robert Goulet, the handsome, big-voiced baritone whose Broadway debut in "Camelot" launched an award-winning stage and recording career, has died. He was 73.

The singer died Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles hospital while awaiting a lung transplant, said Goulet spokesman Norm Johnson.

He had been awaiting a lung transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after being found last month to have a rare form of pulmonary fibrosis.

While Mr. Goulet will always be famous for his roles on Broadway and his many TV appearances, I think his last stint in front of the camera sums up his humor best:

I hope he'll still appear at 3pm..... ghost Robert Goulet is even scarier.....

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November 19, 2007

Nice to know I'm not alone on a Bad Day

I've never thought of photocopying my monitor.... but I can so relate to beating the pencil thrower.

h/t Contagion

and as a bonus, because I can't resist a good Milton moment, "I believe you have my stapler.":

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:29 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Variations on a theme

So you may have noticed that much of today's posting was an attempt to laugh at a bad situation.

I am recovering from a Complete Fuster Cluck of a weekend.  As I described it in an email to a friend: Cheating, Cleaning, Family Drama, and a Prostitute, none of which are in any way related to each other.

Bear with me as I attempt to screw my head back on straight, because as you may have guessed, it went al 'splodey and needed to be replaced......

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:38 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 20, 2007

Happy Turkey Day, Y'all!

Since we'll be busy with family stuff until Sunday, and I'm pretty sure I won't get a chance to post anything, I thought I'd leave you with this.....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:52 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

December 04, 2007

Talk about your Airport Park-N-Ride!

In the 80's and 90's we had Limousine Liberals.  Now we have Gulfstream Greenies:

Tempo Interaktif reports that Angkasa Pura - the management of Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport are concerned that the large number of additional private charter flights expected in Bali during the UN Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) December 3-15, 2007, will exceed the carrying capacity of apron areas. To meet the added demand for aircraft storage officials are allocating "parking space" at other airports in Indonesia.

The operational manager for Bali's Airport, Azjar Effendi, says his 3 parking areas can only accommodate 15 planes, which means that some of the jets used by VIP delegations will only be allowed to disembark and embark their planes in Bali with parking provided at airports in Surabaya, Lombok, Jakarta and Makassar.--emphasis mine, Ed.
I thought they were meeting to try to COMBAT Global Warming. Hypocrites.

h/t The Pirate, via IM

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December 10, 2007


Warning: disjointed thoughts ahead!

Over the last few days I've been thinking a lot about the amazing bumper sticker of awesomeness and how we parent our children. When I say "parent our children", I mean in the general sense, that is, how ADULTS guide and direct children towards what's right and instill in them a sense of right and wrong. Not just their parents, biological or otherwise, but grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, mentors, and friends. Hillary said that it takes a village to raise a child, and although her application of that message was far more socialist than I agree with, her point is well-taken. Children grow up surrounded by adults. ALL of those adults have something to do with raising them, even just reinforcing proper behavior.

I've often heard it said (and I believe it) that parenting is an act of will. As a parent, you are the boss, and what the kids want is secondary. It seems to me that a hell of a lot of ADULTS are abdicating this responsibility because they just don't want to "hurt the kid's feelings" or they'd rather let someone else be the bad guy.

See, here's the thing, and this is what has come up over and over and over in conversations about the bumper sticker, good kids are NOT kids who never think of doing bad things. Good kids are not kids who say "it's wrong, so I won't do it." At least not all the time. Good kids are good simply because they know what will happen to them if they get caught doing what they want to do that their parents disapprove of. They have rules and boundaries and consequences. Consistent, very negative consequences. I was one of those goody-two-shoes kids. But sure as hell NOT because it was wrong to do bad things. Oh hells no. I was terrified of what my parents would do if they caught me.

Good parents make it possible for their kids to reach the stage in their life, where as adults, they can recognize all of their right and wrong steps in the past and use that knowledge to "parent" other children: their own, nieces and nephews, students, mentees, etc.

I've gone down the road before about no consequences for kids and how THAT turns out. But I'll sum up. Kids who don't understand that their actions have consequences CAN NOT succeed in life. They don't turn in homework, but they expect an A. They can't show up to work on time, but they'll sue you for firing them. They expect hand up after hand up and if they don't get one, it's YOUR fault. Mom and Dad fix everything, from a bad grade to a parking ticket to getting kicked out of college because of academic dishonesty. Kids who don't understand that actions have consequences are precisely the ones who will take a gun and try to make their own.

It's a simple principal of Psychology: Associative Learning. If I get zapped every time I press the red button, pretty soon I'll learn not to touch it any more. It's not just a fancy trick, either. This is how the mammalian brain is wired. We learn by experience, both positively and negatively.

Which brings me to a recent experience. I was involved with a community outreach program sponsored by our school a few weeks back. Two groups of high school students were assigned to be helpers to the college students and faculty involved with the program. One group of kids was from a high-achieving science-related magnet school. The other was from a "cultural" charter school. The difference between the two groups was remarkable, and not surprisingly, correlated with the expectations of the adults around them AND the consequences of their actions.

The "magnet" kids were friendly and polite, they pitched in to clean up without being asked. They were creative and helpful and spoke respectfully to each other and to us.

The charter kids were (with a few exceptions) just the opposite. They were loud and lazy, they yelled at each other and spent their time making messes and trying to break things rather than helping out, and when faced directly with consequences, they ignored requests to sit down and/or be quiet from their teachers and principal. Which, I later understood, because the threatened consequences never materialized.

What you don't know is that these kids all come from the same background: ethnically diverse, lower-middle-class and underprivileged homes. They all live in the same neighborhoods, have the same kinds of "stereotypical" families. What's different about them is the expectation that positive and negative behavior each have their own set of consequences. It couldn't be more striking.

So yeah, it's not about the damn guns. It's about shitty adults who think "kid gloves" means "use with children" instead of "made from baby goats".

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 30, 2007

Ralphie Rocks!

TBS set records with this year's "A Christmas Story" Marathon:

The marathon scored its best-ever average delivery in total viewers (2.8 million) as well as in such key demos as adults 18-34 (775,000), adults 18-49 (1.6 million) and adults 25-54 (1.5 million), according to Nielsen Media Research.

For the marathon's entire 24-hour run, TBS ranked as the No. 1 ad-supported cable network in 18-34, 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers. (Ad-supported networks include most basic cable outlets with a few exceptions like Disney Channel.)

During the marathon, the most-watched airing of "Christmas" in total viewers was the first telecast (8 p.m. December 24), which averaged 4.4 million viewers. The 10 p.m. telecast that followed was the most-watched among 18-34 (1.2 million), 18-49 (2.2 million) and 25-54 (2.1 million).

The 10 p.m. showing also beat all broadcast programming on Christmas Eve (8 p.m.-midnight) in the 18-34 demo.
I watched part of at least 5 of the 12 showings. How about you?

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January 01, 2008

Everything old is New again

In honor of New Year's, two stories of old investigations being re-opened:

First, the FBI has decided that they really DO want to know whatever became of DB Cooper, even though they think he's dead:

The FBI is making a new stab at identifying mysterious skyjacker Dan Cooper, who bailed out of an airliner in 1971 and vanished, releasing new details that it hopes will jog someone's memory. The man calling himself Dan Cooper, also known as D.B. Cooper, boarded a Northwest flight in Portland for a flight to Seattle on the night of Nov, 24, 1971, and commandeered the plane, claiming he had dynamite.

In Seattle, he demanded and got $200,000 and four parachutes and demanded to be flown to Mexico. Somewhere over southwestern Washington, he jumped out the plane's tail exit with two of the chutes.

On Monday, the FBI released drawings that it said probably are close to what Cooper looked like, along with a map of areas where Cooper might have landed.

"Who was Cooper? Did he survive the jump? We're providing new information and pictures and asking for your help in solving the case," the FBI said in a statement.

The FBI said that while Cooper was originally thought to have been an experienced jumper, it has since concluded that was wrong and that he almost certainly didn't survive the jump in the dark and rain. He hadn't specified a route for the plane to fly and had no way of knowing where he was when he went out the exit.

"Diving into the wilderness without a plan, without the right equipment, in such terrible conditions, he probably never even got his chute open," Seattle-based agent Larry Carr said.

He also didn't notice that his reserve chute was intended only for training and had been sewn shut.

Several people have claimed to be Cooper over the years but were dismissed on the basis of physical descriptions, parachuting experience and, later, by DNA evidence recovered in 2001 from the cheap tie the skyjacker left on the plane.
I prefer to think he died the way the skyjacker modeled after him did in the classic episode of Qunicy, M.E.: slowly, painfully, and alone. In a tree.

Second, a group of Criminal Justice students in Atlanta is taking up the case of the mysterious death of DC intern Chandra Levy:
Since 2005, students at Bauder College have sifted through old evidence and case files from unsolved crimes as part of the school's Cold Case Investigative Research Institute. This year, Levy's homicide and the disappearance three years ago of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba are on their agenda.

The 50 students will not be graded or get course credit for their work interviewing experts associated with the cases, preparing timelines and looking for clues in Levy's computer, but plan to turn their findings and recommendations over to Washington police and prosecutors at the end of the term.

Levy, 24, had just finished working as an intern for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in May 2001 when she disappeared from her apartment. Her body was found in a D.C. park a year later and her death ruled a homicide, but no one has been charged. The case attacted widespread attention because of allegations that Levy was romantically involved with Congressman Gary Condit when she went missing.
Personally, whoever did it, I hope they catch him and he fries.

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 03, 2008

Big Fat DUUUUUUUHHHHHH: Globe responsible for Global Warming

Nature, folks, never underestimate it.

Here's a vocabulary word for you: Albedo

There's a natural cause that may account for much of the Arctic warming, which has melted sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Nature. New research points a finger at a natural and cyclical increase in the amount of energy in the atmosphere that moves from south to north around the Arctic Circle.

But that energy transfer, which comes with storms that head north because of ocean currents, is not acting alone either, scientists say. Another upcoming study concludes that the combination of both that natural energy transfer increase and man-made global warming serve as a one-two punch that is pushing the Arctic over the edge.

Scientists are trying to figure out why the Arctic is warming and melting faster than computer models predict.

The summer of 2007, like the summer of 2005, smashed all records for loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and ice sheet in Greenland. In September, the Arctic Ocean had 23 percent less sea ice than the previous record low. Greenland's ice sheet melted 19 billion tons more than its previous record.

The Nature study suggests there's more behind it than global warming because the air a couple miles above the ground is warming more than calculated by the climate models.

Climate change theory concentrates on warming of surface temperatures and explains an Arctic that is warming faster than the rest of the world as mostly because reduced sea ice and ice sheets means less reflecting solar rays.
I'm no meteorologist, in fact I teach BIOLOGY, but I know this much: the Earth has been around 5 Billion + years. We've been taking samples for 200 years. You do the math. Need more proof? How about this? The Earth turned itself into a complete ice ball and then melted, all before life even emerged on land. So how can anyone say that Global Warming is entirely anthropogenic?

Of course the Apostles of the Church of Global Warming are trying to rip this research apart, but it was published in Nature, probably the MOST respected journal of peer-reviewed publications in the entire scientific community, so there's clearly something to it.  I'll be watching this very closely.

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:07 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 16, 2008

Chat me up

In the left sidebar, below Fred and the Sudoku game is a new AIM widget.

Since AIM is now included in Gmail Chat, I'm available whenever I'm logged in to mail. And you don't have to be an AIM clone either, you can sign in as a guest. But either way, be sure to tell me who you are, as I don't see your screenname on my screen.

Chats are private, as well, no one else visiting the site can see the conversation.

So say "Hi" sometime if you see me online.

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:00 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 17, 2008

JD Hell Part Deux

So I am not on a jury, yet. I am, however, in a jury pool for a particular case which I may not discuss except to say it's a criminal matter. I must return to the Courthouse of Doom tomorrow for further waiting around with my thumb up my butt sitting in a courtroom with nothing to do but listen to idiots spew their biases in an effort to get out of service, as reading in the courtroom is prohibited and I suspect that if I piss this judge off it won't be that good for me....

And, joy of joys, it might go through to Tuesday before they actually get around to picking a jury. So much for work this week and next.....

The only bright spot is that I am 7 from the back of the queue....

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 18, 2008

Jury Duty Day 2: The Jury Duty Strikes Back

So first off, the reason we can't read is that the judge wants everyone to pay attention. The way she runs voir dire in her courtroom is that she questions the panel aloud en banc, and should any of us not yet in the privileged seats move up, she wants us to be aware of what we are going to be asked. It saves time in questioning the people who get seated later.

So I have been learning a lot about my fellow jurors. Seems there are a lot of people who have really negative opinions about cops and judges and attorneys. And a lot of people who have been harassed by cops or know someone who has.

This is one hundred percent outside my worldview.

It's an interesting exercise in psychology listening to people talk about their experiences and feelings, and then to see the judge and attorneys' reactions. And it certainly makes things less boring, especially for a people-watcher like me.

And, I get to go back in Tuesday morning. As expected, they have already chewed through 36 of the original 55 of us, and the last 7 of those are still actively in voir dire. I expect the jury will be picked and sworn Tuesday, whether or not I get chosen. At this point, I'd almost RATHER be chosen, as it will be 3 days out of my life already, and I'm interested to find out what happens.....

But, joy of joys, I GOT A METRO PASS!!!! No more $5/day to go back and forth. No more bums staring at me while I feed bills into the ticket machine.

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 05, 2008

Super Duper Pooper Tuesday

It's Mardi Gras!

Oh wait, wrong post.  Today is Über Tuesday, the biggest primary election day in US history, as the reporter so breathlessly spewed on the AM news show today.

In the past, the single best thing about the-election-day-formerly-known-as-Super Tuesday was that it meant the END of the primary campaign.  Most years, the nominee is well and established by the end of TEDFKAS Tuesday.

So I find it more than ironic that the closest primaries in many years come down to what I will henceforth refer to as "Breathless Tuesday", given all the hype.

I suspect that this means that the few states that actually chose to hold later primaries are doing the "Nyah Nyah" routine.  We shall see.

From my sheltered vantage, high on the cliffs of denial, it looks like McCain is a shoe-in over Mitt Slick-ney and I am really unsure where the Democrats are going.  If anything, I suspect the "blue" picture will be MORE muddled than previously, after today.

Speaking of the Democraps, I heard a mind-blowing commercial this morning.  The gist of it was "Vote for Hillary, because she is not beholden to special interests"

I literally sat up in bed and screamed at the radio (at 5:30 AM, mind you): "What the fuck kind of crack are you smoking and where do I get some?  Do you know what the fuck you just said?"

The (still dozing) hub was clearly not amused.  Of course, at the end of the commercial, the speaker introduced himself as a descendant of Cesar Chavez and announced that Hillary loves farmworkers and poor people, so vote for her.  And I had this moment of clarity.

Of course he doesn't see her as beholden to special interests!  He IS one.  Know your source, peeps.  Know your source.

On the other hand, the same morning news show provided what was perhaps the single most insightful news story of the election. On the ballot today in CA are a series of propositions (94-97) which would force four very large indian tribes here (mostly in SoCal) to hand over a LARGE chunk of their profits to the state in return for being allowed to install more slot machines.  Most folks are actually FOR these measures in that together they will bring the state several hundred million dollars in new revenue without raising taxes on ANYONE (except the gamblers, so to speak).  The opposition is mostly funded by some Vegas casino owners and some racetracks that also have gaming.  Clearly, this would be HUGE competition for them, so they are naturally against it.

Both parties are officially "neutral" on these propositions, and a lot of people are confused as to what they mean.  So the local NBC channel did some investigating...

What amused me, though, was that the reporter cut right through the BS in reporting the story.  He explained the meat of the propositions, laid out who the supporters and detractors are, pointed out that the propositions require state audits of the casinos, and summed it up by saying "Some people say we should ask the casinos to give the state MORE of their profits, but supporters point out, this is more $$ than the state is getting now"

But back to Breathless Tuesday.  I will likely not vote, as my registration is not updated, and even after filling out the proper forms at my old polling place, LA county would likely discount my vote anyway.  But we shall see.

If I were voting today, this is what I would be voting for:
President: John McCain (but with much regret.  FREEEEEEEEDDDDD!)
Prop 91: No
Prop 92: No
Prop 93: No
Prop 94-97: YES

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vote today if you can

The decision too NOT cast a ballot is the decision to be a sheeple.

Make up your own damn mind.

I'm going to at least try to get my vote counted.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A Black Sheriff President?

Sorry folks, it's the best title I could come up with... even though this is mostly about HRC....

Steve of Hog on Ice sums up my feelings on the Democratic primary today quite succinctly, and honestly, far better than I imagined I'd ever read on the interwebnetoobs:

It looks like Hillsy may get her big butt beat in today's elections.

I find myself having mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, Obama is kind of a zero, and he's also a socialist, and socialism is evil and stupid and causes terrible suffering. On the other, you have to feel good, seeing a black candidate do this well. I mean, hell, this is progress. As long as he doesn't win, I mean. Socialist and all that.

And then there is the pleasure of seeing a Clinton eat it.
yep. pretty much.

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 08, 2008

Calling all Project Runway Fans!

Today's the big day, the Project Runway Show in the BIG tent at Bryant Park!

If you're up to date with this week's episode you have nothing to fear from the news from Fashion Week!

All 5 remaining Designers showed a collection!

As expected I am deep in smit** with Chris March's collection, although I suspect Christian will be the winner.....

Pictures are at Blogging Project Runway:
Sweet P

** bonus points if you pick up the movie reference here...

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:18 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 12, 2008

Free Pancakes!

Do you love IHOP pancakes?  Do you support the work of children's hospitals?

If the answer to both questions is YES, have I got a deal for you!

Today, February 12 is IHOP's celebration of National Pancake Day, and today, from 7am to 10pm they are offering a free short stack (3) of pancakes to anyone who drops in.  All they ask is that you consider making a donation to the Children's Miracle Network.

That's a damn good trade: free pancakes for helping sick kids.

I suspect I see an IHOP in my future tonight......  YUMMY.

h/t wRitErsbLock

Yes, comments are still down. Which sucks.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:21 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 13, 2008

Hey, SoCal readers!

This one's for you.

There's a fundraiser for the family of slain SWAT officer Randall Simmons today, all day at the Burger King at Cesar Chavez and Grand Avenue in Downtown LA.

The franchise owners are donating 100% of today's take to the Simmons family, and there's also a donation box if you'd like to contribute more than just the price of a burger.

By all accounts, Officer Simmons was one of the good guys. Please consider stopping by and showing your support for his family and the LAPD SWAT team.

I'll be there this afternoon on my way home from school.

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 19, 2008

Entitlement Blindspot #1213821639216 Michelle Obama

I am BEYOND TIRED of idiots (of all political stripes) and their entitlement attitudes. Mrs. Obama says that she is


Proud of this country and proud to be an American.

Give me a f*cking break, Michelle.  Do you have pride in your position, your career?  Your ability to go and come as you please?  The wealth you and Barry have amassed?

Sounds like pride in your country to me.  Because, really, did you ever stop to consider than you wouldn't have ANY of those things if you DIDN'T live in this country??

But Pete puts it more succinctly:

I am retired from a job that no honest man could ever expect to become rich. Honest men in foreign countries in my line of work live in small apartments and bicycle to work. I live in a paid for home on a half acre near the lake. My car is paid for. We are officially in the lower third of income levels here and I am writing on a (paid for) computer. Suppose Mrs. Obama was living where her husband's father lived. Suppose too that she were not wealthy. Would she have a good job? Would she even have all her girl parts?
Read the rest, and let Pete know what you think!

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


To the Quiz....  Since y'all didn't get them all....

1.  If I was a Kellogg's corn flake I'd be floating in my bowl doing what exactly?  And to whom would I be talking?
taking movies.. Relaxing a while, livin' in style.  Talking to a raisin who occasionally plays LA, casually glancing at his toupee..... (Punky's Dilemma, 1968, Bookends)

2. Someone told me it's all happening where?
At the zoo (At the Zoo, 1968, Bookends)

3. Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly? How Terribly strange to be (how old???)...
Seventy (Old Friends, 1968, Bookends)

4.People say she's crazy, why?
She's got Diamonds on the soles of her shoes (Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes, 1986, Graceland)

5.If you take two bodies and you twirl them into one, what won't come undone?
Their Hearts and their Bones.  (Hearts and Bones, 1983, Hearts and Bones)

6.How far away is the Mother and Child reunion?
Only a moment away.  (Or a motion, depending on the verse) (Mother and Child Reunion, 1972, Paul Simon)

7. The sign said the words of the prophets are written where?
On the subway walls, and tenement halls (Sounds of Silence, 1964, Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.)

8.Where are you going with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme?
Scarborough Fair (Scarborough Fair and Canticle, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, 1966)

9. What do Rene and Georgette Magritte have hidden away in the cabinet cold of their hearts?
The Penguins, the Moonglows, the Orioles, and the Five Satins (Rene and Georgette Magritte with their Dog After the War, 1983, Hearts and Bones)

10.  The Mississippi Delta shines like what on the way to Graceland?
A National Guitar (Graceland, 1986, Graceland)

My father was a fisherman, my mama was a fisherman's friend.  What's my name?
Lincoln Duncan (Duncan, 1972, Paul Simon)

How many ways are there to leave your lover? (Just ask Jack, Stan, Roy, Gus, Lee.....)
Fifty (Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, 1975, Still Crazy After All These Years)

The fog's rolling in off the East River Bank.  It covers which street?
Bleecker Street (Bleecker Street, 1964, Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.)

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 06, 2008

" 'pints" sized update

I got the following email from Ken S of it comes in pints? this morning, and he told me I could share it with you:


We're hoping it's just a temporary issue. Emily's working on it but we're both snowed under with work. Meanwhile, the lovely and talented Mr. Bingley has given us temporary refuge here: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net

If things aren't back to normal by tomorrow, the FFOT will be there or a link to wherever it is.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 07, 2008

Happy Birthday, Granny

wB turns 31 today! Isn't she lovely?

Welcome to the over the hill gang,my friend!

That box'll get there as soon as it gets over its gout.....

Update: link fixed. Must be my OLD ARTHRITIC FINGERS.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:10 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 08, 2008

Picture Pages!

I finally got around to posting more pictures. Puppy goodness and the saga of installing the dishwasher are now available at Flickr.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:26 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day Y'all!

And here's the perfect treat to celebrate with:

And Happy Birthday, Albert! You would be 129 today!
Posted by caltechgirl at 08:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 18, 2008

Notes from Real Life..

Crazy doesn't begin to cover it, folks.

And yet I can't think of a better word to describe the last week.

It started out great. I was very productive at work, got through my "pre-Friday" to-do list on Wednesday, if you can believe it, and got my classes back on schedule. No mean feat, I assure you. Wednesday night I went to rehearsal, we went out to dinner and did some shopping, and then we had a quiet evening in front of the TV.

Thursday we awoke to what sounded like a helicopter hovering over the house. And then, as we both got up and began to move about, we noticed that the water pressure in the house seemed very low. But, neither of us needed a shower, and we both had to be out of the house early, so we put it on the mental back burner.

Until I opened the front door to go out to the car. I was greeted by a fountain and a flood.

Some IDIOT thought it would be funny to break our hosepipe off at the top of the dirt. Oh well, they got theirs...a face full of water. HA. MORON. You could see where they were standing... clearly they were in the path of the fountain.

But seriously, what kind of IDIOT doesn't know that there's water in water pipes. No shit.

We called the police, and the officers who came out were highly amused. To say the least. Like us, they figure it was probably a kid. Especially since Hubby had a kid threaten to egg our house earlier in the week. This is being followed up by the PD and at the school.

Friday was a boring day. I can't remember what I did. No kidding.

Saturday we worked all day in the yard, doing a lot of ripping and planting. We had IHOP green eggs and ham and Who Cakes for breakfast. YUMMY!

Sunday I woke up sick. SICK. Like bad tummy sick. If that wasn't bad enough, I had to be at a "work retreat" at 5pm.

I am still moderately queasy. So I am staying home today.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:35 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 31, 2008

Why is it?

I am so frigging much more productive working at home.

For example, I have sent a number of critical emails, both work and personal, arranged the appointment for the puppy's spay (next Monday, poor puppy) and gotten the sheets off the bed to be changed as soon as the mattress cover comes out of the dryer. I also showered and sorted and started a load of laundry. Also on the work front, I read through a number of documents regarding our upcoming accreditation review.

AND I have been blog reading and twitter-ing AND watching baseball.(KC vs DET on ESPN).

AND I only got up 2.5 hours ago.

If I was at work I would have: commuted, made photocopies, and sent some emails.

I love working from home.

Oh, and for the record, you can also keep up with me courtesy of my twitter page.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 04, 2008

It's Friday night, so WTF (severe profanity alert)

I rant, you decide:

If I see this so-called "pregnant man" again, I think I am going to puke.

Gender politics aside, this is NOT a man. Legally, sure. I can agree with that. Phenotypically, even. I can agree he's a man.

But don't fucking go around trumpeting that you're a MAN and you're pregnant. That's not the case, except perhaps on paper. And it's no fucking miracle. You stopped taking your testosterone and the female hormones made by your INTACT OVARIES AND UTERUS THAT YOU WERE BORN WITH started working again. There's no miracle there. That's how your body is supposed to work.

Then you inserted sperm, and voila! The process worked the way it was designed to. Funny that. You got pregnant the same way that every other person born with a uterus tries to. In fact, from what I understand, you had an easier time than a lot of us uterus-bearers, whatever gender our driver's license says we are.

You're not a pregnant man. You are a pregnant ex-female who chose to remain reproductively intact despite partial gender reassignment surgery. Let's be clear on the terminology.

A pregnant man WOULD be worth shouting about, and it would be a miracle. Seeing as how MEN are born without the means of conceiving and carrying a baby INSIDE their body. A pregnant MAN worth studying would be someone who is able to carry a fetus on the inside, and is born with sex chromosomes that say "XY" instead of "XX", and who are born with testes, and vas deferens and a prostate and a penis . Not a "man" born with a uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and a vagina.

That's no reason to get on Oprah and every other fucking show on TV, ok?

And before you fucking go off on me about being insensitive to transgender people, please understand that I could care less which set of chromosomes you were born with, and whether they match what you show on the outside. Just keep your crotch out of my face. When you go around showing pictures of your beard and man's chest and pregnant stomach, that's tantamount to waving your nuts in my face, which I don't appreciate. And don't go around acting like you got pregnant from sperm inserted up your fake dick, whether you have one or not, when you got pregnant the same way everyone else does. That's nothing to write home about.

All that being said, I wish you and your wife a lifetime of happiness and the blessings of a healthy child, as every family deserves happiness and health. Just not in my face. If nothing else, out of respect for your child's well-being.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 09, 2008

Check this out

It's a Schmap. Keep up with the Delegate count, and where the delegates come from. Hillary and Obama also available.

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2008

On the Mc Cain Train

Even My Meez is ready to pitch in and support John McCain (see the left sidebar).

And on a personal note, I am SO loving the Democrat debacle, aren't you?

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:53 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

May 01, 2008

i owe you people something like an update

It has been a crazy week since I last posted.

Tuesday night we cleaned the house in preparation for an out-of-town guest. After we finished putting things away, vacuuming, and changing the sheets on the guest bed, we decided a shower was in order. Usually, since it's just the 2 of us, I turn on the shower, jump in and wash and step out, then DH jumps in and turns off the shower. Except the goddamned thing wouldn't turn off all the way. So hubby hauled out the tools and stripped the hot water handle back to the stem, then used pliers to get the stem turned off.

For those of you keeping score, this is the THIRD problem with the shower/tub handles since we bought the house. THIRD. By this time, however, it's well after midnight, and there's little that can be done except to get the water turned off and go to bed.

Wednesday, I got up and went to work, and then picked up my friend from the airport. We went straight from LAX to the beach, as she'd never put her tootsies in the Pacific. We had lunch at the Kettle (my favorite MB comfort food place) and then walked down to the waves. After goofing around for about 15 minutes and introducing her to the joys of squishing kelp bobbers, we walked back up to the car and made our way back to the casa. We got her gear stowed, watched some TV and went to choir rehearsal.

Thursday I dragged her to school with me, and she got to sit in for the final fetal pig lab of the year. Of course her patience was rewarded with a trip out to Melrose to shop at Fluevog and Kidrobot and lunch at Johnny Rocket's.

Friday we went to the Dodger game (Joe Torre Bobblehead night!).

Saturday was plumbing day 1. We took the access panel off the wall to see how difficult it would be to replace the diverter/valve/handle thingy. As usual, it wasn't that simple. As with the dishwasher, one plumbing job quickly became three, as we discovered that the water shutoff valves for the shower were broken OPEN. So we had to turn all of the house water off to replace those. AND we discovered that the shower would take a hell of a lot more work to replace... so we decided to cap the leaking valves and put the rest off, as we were having people over for a BBQ so that our friends could meet our guest. Much meat and wine took the edge off of the plumbing mess.

Sunday we went to see the Big Fat Rat. It turns out that was an excellent day to go. Not terribly hot, and not terribly crowded either. We rode all the big rides, and most of the smaller ones, too. The longest line we stood in was 45 minutes, for the Nemo submarines. Everything else was 20 minutes or less, including Indy! We had "linner" at the Blue Bayou (yum!) and went to Downtown Disney to the Lego Store via Monorail. We left at 9 because Monday is a work day, but everyone was exhausted by then anyway.

Monday was plumbing day 2. We fixed the valves and tackled the shower/diverter replacement. It quickly became evident that the geometry of the house made it IMPOSSIBLE to remove the pipes via the access panel. So we cut a hole in the side of the house! Extreme, but it was either that or rip out the fiberglass shower surround. And anyway, our house is covered in flat wood panels (1x 12's) with wood shingle siding attached, so what we cut out came out in one single piece (which we screwed back on when we were done). Once we could actually REACH the plumbing, the shower replacement was a piece of cake. And now it works great. YAY Hubby!

Tuesday was my class's final, and then another trip to Kidrobot and a tour of Hollywood Boulevard.

Wednesday I dropped my friend back at LAX, and our whirlwind week was over. Back to real life, and fast. I got a hell of a curve ball at work, and then I had to grade exams.

Today I finally got to do my ACTUAL job. Wow.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 13, 2008

Dear Idiots

I know you can read this. You stole my laptop, and if you're not the complete idiot that your botched job of breaking in to my house would seem to suggest, you've found this page by now.

Just know this, you left enough of yourself behind that the cops should be knocking on your door soon.

So just bring back the laptop and we'll call it even. Leave it on the front porch. I'll let the cops know you did the right thing.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:29 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

a brief update

After consultation with the insurance folks, it's not worth putting in a claim, so I guess Uncle Sam's $1200 is going into the buy-me-a-laptop fund.

Wonderful dude was just here and replaced the window for $75. Sunset Glass in Pasadena. I can highly recommend them! And he was over an hour early. Took him about 20 minutes to get the old glass out and cut and seat the new pane.

So that's that. I changed all my passwords for my accounts and set a password with the bank, so nobody can access my stuff. I also signed on with Lifelock for a year's monitoring of my credit. They were actually recommended to us by both one of the cops who came last night and my parents' insurance guy, who has handled their accounts for years and is a good dude. So money well spent, I suppose.

Posted by caltechgirl at 04:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 02, 2008

Universal Health Care: THIS is why not

When Linda O'Boyle wanted just a few more months with her family and chose to pay out of pocket for a drug that would work against her colon cancer and allow her to do that, she was dropped from Britain's National Health Service coverage:

Mrs O'Boyle was operated on in January last year for colon cancer and the doctors found it had spread to her stomach lining.

The former NHS assistant occupational therapist, who has three sons, twins
Gerald and Anthony, 37, and Mark, 33, as well as grandchildren Luke,
four, Finn, three, Jemima, two and Darcey, two, then had six weeks of

She continued with this until September last year when she and her husband were told the devastating news there was little more doctors could do.

However, her consultant recommended Cetuximab, which could extend her life. But it is available on the NHS only in Scotland, not in England and Wales.

It is one of many medicines the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence denies to some patients because of cost.

Mrs. O'Boyle's decision to take it meant she and her husband had to spend 11,000 over two months for care from Southend University Hospital HS Foundation Trust.

Mr O'Boyle, an NHS manager for 30 years, said: 'I think every drug should be available to all of us if there's a need for that drug to be used.

'I offered to pay for it but was told I couldn't continue with the treatmentwe were receiving at the hospital-The consultant was flabbergasted - he was very upset.'

He added: 'I was always very anti private treatment. But everything she had wasn't working and it was a last resort.

'We were lucky we had the money, it's the people who have no recourse to it that struggle. It is wrong that they are denied the chance.'

Mr. O'Boyle, who said he was convinced the drug had extended his wife's life by three months, added: 'If these guidelines were changed it would be a wonderful legacy for my wife.'

Medical experts say the ban on co-payment is one reason why Britain has one of the worst survival rates for cancer in Europe.

You see, having a two-tier system wouldn't do. Linda couldn't use NHS services and ALSO pay for a drug that others couldn't afford. How much did she really want to live? Enough to burden her husband with a mountain of debt for all her care for just a few months more?

Cake Eater Kathy lays it all out.

Nice, huh? A lifetime of taxes to pay for a health care system that actually employed this woman and her husband, only to be betrayed in the end because she was willing to pay out of pocket for a few more months on this Earth. She wasn't looking for a cure. She knew that was beyond her. She was simply looking for a palliative treatment which could extend her life a bit. Just a bit.

She was asked, "How badly do you want to live?" And she replied that she wanted just a few more months with her family. She paid the price for a drug that wasn't available under universal healthcare, and she did it gladly, only to be smacked with a frozen mackerel in the end. Her actions would create a "two tier" health care system, and that, apparently, cannot be allowed, because that would mean she wasn't receiving lowest common denominator health care, like everyone else does with the NHS, and the NHS cannot stand that. She thought she had the right to choose what her healthcare was worth to her, and that she wasn't going to be penalized for her decision. One would suspect, with universal healthcare, that that would be a reasonable assumption. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

And yet this atrocious system is what some people would have us install here in the US. This is what some people want because their health insurance premiums are too high, and they would prefer not to have to pay them, but would rather let the government run things. It's tidier in theory, but absolutely disgusting in practice.

Again, how badly do you want to live?

Governments with nationalized healthcare systems don't want to give their citizens a choice. Patients are blackmailed, ultimately, into going with the lowest common denominator treatment if the the choice is between that or nothing at all because they don't have spare millions on hand to pay for private care.

My friends, this is what Universal healthcare means. Like anything else, when you cater to the lowest common denominator, the quality decreases. That's what the "lowest" part means.

But Kathy says it better than I ever could. She has lived it. Go read about what Universal healthcare means for Ovarian cancer patients in Europe compared to the treatment she recieved here in the US. It's shocking and frightening. Definitely something to consider as we go to the polls.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:58 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 05, 2008

Dear America,

I am amused at you. Amused in that sort of bemused way, but not really smirking. Funny, but not really worth more than a half smile.

A year ago you were all screaming at each other: "Hilllary!" and "Anyone BUT Hillary" and today that's a moot frickin' point. Kind of like all of the articles/ commentaries/ blog posts that posited "Can anyone beat Hillary?" "Why the Republicans don't have a chance", and my personal favorite "Is the US ready for a woman as President?"

Yeah, guess not.

Of course, Senator Clinton brought this one on herself. She's a bitch. I say that in the most positive way possible. She has balls of brass, and an iron will and frankly, she made Evil Overlord mistake #1: (no, not monologuing....) she showed all her cards too soon.

I've disliked Hillary as long as I can remember, something about these type-A balls-out bitches really bothers me. Now, as most of you know, I'm a real bitch, myself. I don't take shit and I play the game as hard as I can. But I have standards. I can take a note from Laura Bush's camp, too. More flies with honey, and all that. There are lines I won't cross.

Those lines don't exist for women like Hillary Clinton. I have known many women like her. They're determined to step on the top rung of the ladder at all costs. It certainly has cost Hillary a lot. Even more than possibly the presidency. Friends, family, self-respect.

And after this loss, I feel sorry for her. She played the game hard. As hard as she could. She simply got outplayed by a force she couldn't counter, an opponent who possessed a power she couldn't touch: Mystique.

Because really, I think that's what this primary season was all about on the Left side of the aisle. Hillary is a known commodity. We've seen every bad hair day and every fake smile for a decade, and we've seen her get twitchier and bitchier as the years have gone on. We saw her fail at Universal Healthcare and flip flop on the War on Terror. We saw her move to New York just to run for office and stand by her Philanderer-In-Chief.

Barry, on the other hand is a mystery. Black, half-muslim, native Hawaiian (born there, not ethnically), grew up in Indonesia, married to a crazy racist lawyer bitch (allegedly)... Now there's a story. He says a lot of "great things", he gets a lot of airplay, but who the hell is he really? I don't think even HE knows.

The fact that he managed to keep that from us, that he allowed the media to build up a "Barry the Great" persona is likely the single biggest factor in his winning the nomination (presumably). You won't hear this on the news or in the commentaries, but I am convinced that "Barry Almighty" is why voters marked his name more often than Hillary's.

Will he choose her as his running mate? Some say he should, to pick up her constituents and prevent a last minute fight at the convention. I am of two minds on this. On the one hand I think he should strike out boldly, bring in a new running mate and effectively tell Hillary to "make like a tree and leave". On the other hand, the Barry and Hill show would appeal to a lot of their party and give Hillary the spotlight she craves. At least until the AQ jackasses decide to blow up the US again and President Barry has to stick her in Dick Cheney's former "secure, undisclosed location."

Of course, if he's really as bright as they say he is, he'll dump her flat. After all, we all know how badly she wants to be President, and well, we all remember Vince Foster.

So, my friends, you have done THIS ONE to yourselves. At least if Hillary was the nominee, we wouldn't have the prospect of race wars when McCain wins in November. On the other hand, if Barry wins y'all can never pull the race card again.

Thanks, folks. I'll be the one in the corner with the popcorn.


Posted by caltechgirl at 10:40 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 06, 2008

Sandra Day O'Connor blazes another trail

The former Supreme Court Justice has a new project: She's a video game developer. In an effort to educate American kids about how the justice system works and the role of the courts, she has been working with Georgetown University and Arizona State to create a program for 7th through 9th graders called "Our Courts."

Sandra Day O'Connor, 78, who served as U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1981 until her retirement in 2006, said she never imagined she would be asked to address a conference about digital gaming.

She said she got involved with developing the project called "Our Courts" out of concern over public ignorance about the judiciary and partisan attacks on what should be an independent institution.

"In recent years I've become increasingly concerned about vitriolic attacks by some members of Congress, some members of state legislatures and various private interest groups ... on judges," O'Connor told the Games For Change conference on using gaming technology for social improvement and education.

"We hear a great deal about judges who are activists -- godless, secular, humanists trying to impose their will on the rest of us," she said. "Now I always thought an activist judge was one who got up in the morning and went to work."

She said it was worrying to see members of the Senate requiring nominees to the Supreme Court to state how they would rule on certain cases during the confirmation process, and to see special interests trying to influence the election of state judges in states where such elections are still held.

"With partisan attacks and political pressure mounting, it's much more difficult to achieve fair and impartial judgments from the judges who are serving," O'Connor said.
The project will develop both interactive materials for classroom discussion and a stand-alone downloadable video game that kids can play on their own. According to Justice O' Connor,
The second part of the project will be for young people to use in their free time, O'Connor said, noting that studies showed children spend around 40 hours a week using media, including computers, television, videogames or music.

"If we can capture just a little bit of that time to get them thinking about government and civic engagement rather than playing shoot-'em-up video games, that's a huge step in the right direction," she said.

O'Connor said she had seen from her own grandchildren that technology was the best way to inspire children to learn and it was vital to speak to them in their own language.
The games and other materials will be available at www.ourcourts.org starting in September.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cotillion Sister Makes a Difference

Jane Novak, who some of you know from her own blog, Armies of Liberation, and also from her frequent postings at My Pet Jawa, was on Fox and Friends this morning talking about her efforts to work for regime change in Yemen. Nice Deb beat me to the video editing and posted Jane's interview on YouTube, so check it out (below) and then go sign the petition! Learn more about Yemen and more reformers in the Middle East here. Finally, tell Fox how happy you are that they highlight these issues and talk to bloggers! Leave a comment here for FoxNews' Alisyn Camerota (who Jane tells me is very, very nice!)

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 09, 2008

Yemen Update

Rather than the death sentence that could have been imposed, imprisoned journalist Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani was sentenced to 6 years hard labor. This "lighter" sentence is 100% due to pressure from the US media coverage of the story. Keep talking about it, keep blogging about it.

Jane has all the details here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Depends on your definition of "a lie"

All over town this weekend, on overpasses and chainlink fences along the freeway there were hand-lettered signs "The war is a lie." and "Bush Lied". I've been seeing them for months now, but it seems there was a concerted effort to add new signs this weekend, as there were more signs in the afternoon than in the morning along the same freeways.

These signs are highly amusing to me. Along with their partners "Impeach!" Impeach who? Yo Momma? Seriously. Finish your thought, ADHD child. Of course, some of the signs DO say Impeach Bush, but I have to ask, why? I mean, the man has about 6 months left in his term. How much of that time is actually useful political time? ZERO. And how long would it take to go through an impeachment process? Probably more time than he has left as President. Get off it.

But the "lie" meme perseverates. And congress commissioned a study of the available intelligence to determine whether the President actually lied. Senator John D Rockefeller led the Select Committee on Intelligence in this investigation. In a statement Thursday, the senator announced, "In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent[.]"

But is that really what the report says? Not really. Clearly the information at hand was overinterpreted, aka SPUN, into the message that the Bush administration wanted to present. Probably in an effort to convince the American people to get behind the push to war in Iraq.

However, the report finds that in many circumstances, and on a variety of subjects, the President's (and other administration officials') statements on the war "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates." These subjects include Iraq's nuclear weapons program, biological and chemical weapons capability, overall WMD capability, and support for AQ terrorists.

Which to me, raises a very important question, namely, How did our intelligence get so far off base? Did our operatives buy into the lies that scientists and supervisors were passing on to the regime? Or did the CIA et al. deliberately mislead both the Clinton and Bush administrations? Where is the actual failure, then? If the President is essentially parroting what the intelligence community tells them is fact?

So then what can we do with this knowledge, that our intelligence is, at best, flawed? How do we use it to plan and implement strategies for dealing with our enemies and their plots to thwart us? Knowing that such critical intelligence may be wrong makes it extremely difficult to build support for military endeavors, regardless of the import to national security.

Which brings me back to lying. Which is the lie then, Sen. Rockefeller's statement that the report finds that "Bush Lied", or the actual text of the report which shows that the intelligence community "lied" and Bush and Co. believed them?

h/t Babalu

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:53 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

June 25, 2008

Because I am avoiding work... one blog entry at a time

Stolen from the lovely and talented Phoenix.

Only ONE word can be used in your answer and it can NOT be used twice.

1. Where is your cell phone? Desk
2. Your significant other? Home
3. Your hair? Messy
4. Your mother? Tired
5. Your father? Gimpy
6. Your favourite time of day? Night
7. Your dream last night? Cops
8. Your favourite drink? Dr.Pepper
9. Your dream goal? Leisure
10. The room you're in? Office
11. Your ex? Goofball
12. Your fear? Snakes
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Elsewhere
14. What you are not? Shy
15. Your Favourite meal? Lunch
16. One of your wish list items? Time
17. The last thing you did? Carried
18. Where you grew up? House
19. What are you wearing? Dress
20. Your TV is? Old
21. Your pets? Puppies
22. Your computer? Laptop
23. Your life? Content
24. Your mood? Annoyed
25. Missing someone? Hubby
26. Your car? Filthy
27. Something you're not wearing? Pants
28. Favourite store? Target
29. Your summer? Hot
30. Your favourite colour? Green
31. When is the last time you laughed? Today
32. When is the last time you cried? Yesterday
33. Your health? OK
34. Your children? None
35. Your future? Open
36. Your beliefs? Personal
37. Young or old? Childish
38. Your image? Confident
39. Your appearance? Comfortable
40. Would you live your life over again knowing what you know? Duh

Feel free to jump in and play along, y'all!

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 30, 2008

Joining the Club

Welcome to the Conservasphere to another Pasadenan, The Pasadena Closet Conservative!

He/She chooses to remain anonymous because,

I dare not "out" myself because I would run the risk of being held hostage by liberals at some Ashram while being brainwashed with MultiCultural/PoliticallyCorrect/GroupThink/Socialist "isms" until I hollered "I'm Nancy Pelosi's bitch", begged for mercy and changed my party affiliation using a pen filled with my own blood.
I feel you. It's hard out here for a pimpconservative. Especially in the 'Dena, where most folks are either too wealthy to pay attention or too conservative to speak of their political leanings. I myself choose to remain carefully anonymous for these reasons.

In any case, thanks for putting yourself out there. There's a bunch of us on the interwebs, some anonymous, some eponymous. Check my right sidebar for the "Bear Flag League", a group of conservative Cali bloggers, many of whom are here in SoCal as well.

And Welcome!

h/t the Proc and FCBlog

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:57 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 02, 2008

Thanks, Eukanuba!

As many of you longtime lurkers will remember, the Elder Princess has been a severely allergic dog for most of her life. You may recall we've done all the tests, antihistamines, steroids, shots, human anti-transplant-rejection drugs, and of course special foods. We never did find out for certain what the culprit was, but circumstances have shown that it lives in Chapel Hill, and not California, so our Boo is doing a lot better over the last three years.

The one thing that changed for the worse, though was her weight. Venison and Kangaroo are both lean meats, and usually less fat is added to the mix in allergy diets. Coincident with our move out here, most pet stores stopped distributing the Eukanuba brand of prescription diets, so we had to switch her to regular Eukanuba adult food (Lamb and Rice, actually, since we knew rice was ok and she'd never had lamb). And well, she put on a few pounds. Especially since the townhouse we lived in didn't have a yard and we had to walk her every day instead of playing....

But I digress. Today we went to the Smart of Pet to get food for the puppy (the Princess currently is being kept on a diet of weight control rations, which is not good for a growing girl). And to our surprise, what did we find in the regular food aisle? Eukanuba Naturally Wild Venison and Potato formula!

It looks and smells a lot like what we used to pay the same price for with a prescription. They both love it, or so it seems by the empty dishes and sleepy bodies. We'll see what their tummies think tomorrow!

I know Eukanuba has gone downhill in quality in recent years, but my dogs love it and they're both incredibly healthy, so we'll see how this goes one bag at a time.

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


You'll find some changes in the right-hand sidebar. Many dormant and dead blogs sadly deleted, a few new additions (especially under the Green Parrot -- Pasadena Bloggers) and a long list of NEW bloggers I have actually met.

I'll be uploading pictures to Flickr, too, sometime later tonight or tomorrow, so check here for new pics shortly.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 04, 2008

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one
People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is in the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let the Facts be submitted to a candid World.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People; unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.
He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.
He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond the Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule in these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Powers to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic Insurrections among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Signed by ORDER and







Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:02 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 15, 2008

I don't need your affirmative action OR your pity

According to some, the "lack" of women in science and engineering is so critical that Title IX-like protections should be put in place until women are equally represented.

Are you f*cking kidding me? Women have no barriers in science, probably fewer than in any other general field. Over half of students entering medical school this year are women. More than 60% of graduate students in biology and biochemistry and psychology are female. My department chair is a woman. There's no lack of women in science, even at the highest levels.

Yes, you might argue, but the article focuses on Physics and Engineering. And true, there are relatively few women in physics and engineering. But is it possible that maybe women don't choose these fields because they are less interested? Should we force girls into jobs they don't want? It's not like the demands of an academic career in physics are that different from the demands of an academic career in biology or biochemistry. Which even these researchers had to admit was the case:

[T]he institute found that women with physics degrees go on to doctorates, teaching jobs and tenure at the same rate that men do. The gender gap is a result of earlier decisions. While girls make up nearly half of high school physics students, they're less likely than boys to take Advanced Placement courses or go on to a college degree in physics.(emphasis mine)
At least the Universities so far are ignoring it:
So far, these Title IX compliance reviews haven't had much visible impact on campuses beyond inspiring a few complaints from faculty members. (The journal Science quoted Amber Miller, a physicist at Columbia, as calling her interview "a complete waste of time.") But some critics fear that the process could lead to a quota system that could seriously hurt scientific research and do more harm than good for women.
Yep. And considering today's cuts in research funding and endless Federal investigations looking for reasons to increase cuts, this could be a nightmare for small institutions that don't have the resources to bring in enough female scientists to meet an arbitrary quota.

Posted by caltechgirl at 04:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 21, 2008

Forest for the trees (and some TV notes)

It was a busy weekend at the Casa de CTG. For the first weekend in about a month it was cool enough to work outside, and we were actually IN TOWN to get things done.

Despite the fact that GMT is home for the summer, the yard has been getting away from us shamefully. It has just been too hot to work in the yard for long periods, so the list of things to be done has far outpaced the the things we can GET done. Add to that a tree that decided to DIE in the middle of the yard, and well, it was starting to look like there were a few dead cars arriving to be parked on the lawn in a week or so.

Finally this weekend we were able to tackle some big projects. First up was the dead tree. Our lovely plum tree just turned brown and withered. We'd known it was sick, with some disease that didn't affect the other fruit trees in the yard, or the neighbors yard. But then it just up and died. So we took it down before it fell and killed someone.

Hubby clipped off all of the small limbs and branches with pruning shears and then we borrowed a friend's chainsaw and chopped it down a piece at time into a rather cheerful looking pile of firewood.

When Hubby got to the stump, the reason for the tree's downfall became immediately clear: Termites had infested the base of the tree and killed it from the inside out. Of course, we sprayed the stump with bug spray and threw the termite pieces in the trash. They live in the soil in Pasadena, I know, but the fewer the better is my motto when it comes to Termites.

When the plum tree was done, we moved the operation to the front yard, and using our awesome pole trimmer and tree saw, we took out all of the lower branches on the nasty tree that shades our driveway (and drops leaves and makes the car sticky from its secretions), mostly because the branches were likely the cause of our cable having loose connections, and because the branches were beginning to brush the roof. Yeah, not good. I've noticed these trees all over Pasadena, and it seems to me that most people who park under then DO NOT experience sticky, leafy car like we do, and I realized, most of the other trees are higher above the cars, so hopefully the trim will help with that, too.

Then, later last night we went over to some other friends' house and picked up their mini-whisper-chipper. This should allow us to get rid of most of the tree waste by making it into some lovely mulch. YAY!

I am totally exhausted.

Also from this weekend, it seems we stopped watching House entirely about the time we went into escrow on the house. Regular lurkers will know that was well over a season ago, strike or no strike. So this weekend we picked up where we left off, and have watched 9 episodes or so, which brings us up to just about the last pre-strike episode. It's nice to have all that TiVo space back, too. Just 12 to go. I expect we'll get through them in the next couple of days. Then we have a whole season of Ugly Betty to get through. As well as a whole slate of summer shows.

Speaking of summer shows, we were both very impressed with A&E's The Cleaner, starring Benjamin Bratt. Despite a few cheesy moments (including a Pulp Fiction-esque heroin rescue and a very amateurly foreshadowed suicide), it was gripping and we're looking forward to the second episode on Tuesday.

Also, our all-time favorite, Psych, is back on USA. This season started off with what I consider to be just a "meh" episode, despite the much ballyhooed arrival of Shawn's Mom: Cybill Shepherd. She was actually excellent, and seemed to fit right into the cast. The plot was MORE than a tad contrived, with Shawn resorting to fraud and blackmail to keep Gus's "dayjob" from forcing him out of the agency. Not his best work, and certainly not the best script of the show. Surprisingly adorable: Henry getting all mushy about his ex and Lassiter crying on the therapy couch after boasting to Jules that he was kicking a$$. Looking forward to a much better season once the writers get over their long winter break.

And a final thought on TV: All-time Foodie fave Ted Allen returns to weekly TV with a new show on Food Network starting next Tuesday (7/29). It's called "Food Detectives" and looks to be the gay love child of Alton Brown's Good Eats and MythBusters. Even if the concept wasn't so cool, I'd be all over this show. How can you not love the man who once advocated that bacon should be its own food group, and later described it as the "best two words in food: Ba. Con."?

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 24, 2008

I finally figured it out!

Happy Fun Ball is made of Wonderflonium. That's why you ahouldn't bounce it!

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 25, 2008

A Rose by any other name...UPDATED

Helen's post yesterday, about names, got me thinking. You see, I can't just say these are the names I would choose for my children without explaining why. There's a whole list of rules that hubby and I came up with many, many years ago. Long before we even started dating.

You know those long, rambling conversations you can have with your closest friends? The rules sprung from one of those. WE were just sitting around, BS'ing one day. I don't even know what started it off, but eventually both of us (and Ben. He was there, too) were tossing out rules for what names you can and can't give your kid. Over the years, we've gone back to them, as friends have had and named their own kids, and had a few laughs, I must admit.

So here's a list of our rules:
1. It must be a classic American name, spelled in the most standard way. Our children's heritage is classic EuroMutt with a dash of Native American and heaping helping of Armenian. The best way to describe them will be American. So we think their names should be, too.

2. It can not be one of certain names. I would list them, but I don't want to piss people off. It's just that, with a few exceptions, in our collective experience, everyone we know with these names is some kind of asshole. To the point that it's like "well his name is (one of those), you expect that".

3. It can't be a family name. Too much animosity. If I name my kids after my side of the family you can bet his family would be pissed. And vice versa. There may be some leeway for dead relatives used as middle names, but in general, it would cause more fuss than I'd care to deal with.

4. Probably best listed as a corollary to 3: There will be no juniors. There's enough confusion in the house with 4 different names now (two of which, I might add, belong to DOGS), I don't need to add on the confusion of calling for DH and getting answered by DH, Jr. Plus, we both think our kids should have their own names.

5. They must be full names. Alexander, Elizabeth, Johnathan, Katharine are all acceptable, for example, while Alex, Beth, Jon, and Kathy are not. Give the kid the whole name, and they can choose from a multitude of nicknames for themselves.

6. The Asswipe (that's Os-Wee-Pay) Rule: No easily made fun of names. Hubby's name is very similar to the quirky title character of a popular song during his childhood, and my last name laid me open to years of taunting comparing me to a comic villain. We'd like to spare our kids as much as possible. So under this rule, no Richard (Dick), Peter, Johnson, etc.

7. No rhyming. Dear God no. Thankfully, neither of our last names rhymes with many first names.

8. No multiples. This is mostly an issue for people with first names as last names, and we'd really have to stretch it to get that to work for us, but seriously. You couldn't think of anything more creative than Thomas Thomas (my mother's orthopedic surgeon) or Martin M. Martin (a teacher at our high school)?

9. No objects. Thing names are for animals. "This is our daughter, Ladybug." "This is my cat, Ladybug." "how nice." NOT. There's a reason some names refer to people. Abstracts are ok, however, such as Faith, Joy, Hope, Honor, etc. Although in my experience such names often turn out to be no more than wishful thinking on the part of the parents....

10. Fictional Characters are sometimes ok, under these conditions: the character must have a real name (Luke is acceptable, Han is not), and the character's reputation won't come back to bite the kid in the ass (again, Luke is acceptable, Homer is not). Naming your kid after a villain is usually a bad idea, as well. Especially if it's a villain in a kid's movie....

11. There should be a reason you're willing to share. Someday your kid will ask you "mom, dad, why did you call me Paris Nooner Lastname" and you have to be willing to explain your quick trip back to the hotel that ended up being more than a bag drop-off....

12. Gender appropriate names are a must. Gender neutral names are ok, but for GAWDS SAKE, don't give a girl a boy's name or vice versa. Even if it is acceptable as a name for the opposite gender. Leslie is a girl's name. As is Stacy. Cameron is a boy's name (see Ferris Bueller). So is Kendall. Trust me, it's hard enough to pronounce the names people give their kids. Don't make me look a fool by calling a "he" a "she" in class.

I'm sure some of our rules go against what you like or even some of your names, but this is what we want for our kids. Because life is hard enough without being known as Chlamydia Vagina.

More on the worst baby names ever compiled here.

So what do you think? What are your rules? Which of these do you agree with? Disagree with? That's what the comments are for, hint, hint.

UPDATE: Check out this poor girl's name. I would like to beat her parents. (h/t Richard Cocking)

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:45 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

August 03, 2008

More Dr. Horrible Goodies

For the musically inclined and for ringtone junkies....

Lots of synth mp3s, suitable for making ringtones here.

Sheet music to Perfect Story and Bad Horse (and mp3 of the Bad Horse ringtone) here.

More fun Dr. Horrible stuff as I find it!

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Follow the Guerilla Congress on Twitter!-- UPDATED

Even though I know it's little more than a publicity stunt, I appreciate the Republican Congress critters who are trying to do something about the energy price crisis and the economy. They'll be staging phantom sessions throughout the Congressional recess, and you can keep up with what's going on even though C-SPAN won't be covering the proceedings.

This message came tonight via the Facebook Group "Let's Rock The House!":

On Sunday, over thirty Republican Members announced that they would return to the House of Representatives to continue the Guerilla Congress's phantom sessions. Members will continue to discuss the need for an 'all of the above' energy plan with visitors, and keep the pressure on the Democrats to reconvene the House and allow a vote on offshore drilling.

The session is expected to begin around 10 AM Eastern. The designated Twitter hashtag for who are stepping up to get footage from the event is #rth, and Eyeblast.tv has offered to promote any media uploaded to the website. The Twitter feed #dontgo, accessible at http://dontgo.us, will be used by members and other observers to relay information about the event itself outside the Capitol.

If you plan to report from the event, be sure to stick to #rth and upload to Eyeblast.tv. From there, we will need all of you to alert the media about the Eyeblast content and promote it as much as possible.

Be sure to follow http://dontgo.us and Rock the House for continuing developments tomorrow.

You can follow the action via Twitter or on the web here. The revolution may not be televised, but it sure as hell will be Twittered!

UPDATE: Cotillion Sis Nicki has a pretty good list of Congressional Twitterers posted today. Check it out!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 04, 2008

It must be Birthday Day in FL!

Happy Birthday to two of my favorite ladies!

Mrs. Who made each of them the perfect birthday card, I canna compete. See here and here.

But I did get y'all some balloons.....

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 08, 2008

The OTHER biggest douche in the Universe*

I should post something about the Silky Pony. So here it is.




Once a fucking jackass, always a fucking jackass. Now you're a slimy fucking jackass. Couldn't you keep it in your pants?

* John Edward used to be the biggest douche in the universe. Now it's John Edwards.

Posted by caltechgirl at 05:58 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

Back, y'all

Had a lovely vacation over the weekend on the coast and then at tonight's Dodger game. Many, many pictures as soon as I get the camera hooked up. Maybe tomorrow since I took tomorrow off too. Until then, nappy nap time.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Show some blog love, won't you?

I know if there was any other way, Jay and Deb wouldn't be asking for help, but they need a significant amount of cash to help keep the lights on after August 22. If you can help out, even by tossing them a couple of dollars, it will be more than appreciated.

They're more than my blogparents, they're friends, and they've had a rough year financially trying to raise three kids. After some really rough patches, expensive car problems, sick kids, and ambulance trips, they are about to get back to being financially stable, except for this one large debt the state allowed them to run up. Jay explains what happened, here.

If you would like to pick up some lovely crocheted items, rather than making a simple donation, you can visit Deb's etsy store. Also, if you're looking for a domain name for a software project, Jay has one for sale. See here.

I'd be so happy if I clicked over there tomorrow and saw that the bills were taken care of. I know you all are so generous and wonderful. It would be awesome to see the B-sphere support people who really need the help rather than funding another Andrew Sullivan vacation!

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 20, 2008

The Solution

Thanks for all your suggestions.

I think I'm going to go with Toodledoo, at least for the time being. It has a really useful Firefox widget, and seems to be a small enough page to load well on the phone.

But my favorite feature? You can print out the top 110 items on your list and make a little booklet to carry around and cross out. Best of both worlds!

I'll let you know how it goes!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 28, 2008

The internet f*cking rocks

An internet forum may have saved this beautiful baby's life.

See the discoloration in her left eye? That's caused by retinoblastoma, a deadly and devastating childhood cancer. Her mom was concerned about the discoloration and posted this picture to an internet discussion group she had joined, where another mom recognized it as a possible sign of cancer.
"When 32-year-old Megan Santos of Riverview, Fla., noticed that one of her baby daughter's eyes was a slightly different color than the other, her intuition told her that something was wrong.

Concerned, Santos posted a picture of 1-year-old Rowan Santos on the online pregnancy community BabyFit.com, of which she is a member. The picture clearly showed a hazy, white glow in Rowan's left eye -- an atypical reflection of the camera flash not seen in the infant's other eye.

She soon received a message from Madeleine Robb, another 32-year-old mother living in Stretford, the United Kingdom, encouraging her to ask her doctor about a rare but serious cancer that can bring about such a color difference.

Santos followed Robb's advice. And as it turned out, Santos' post may have well saved her child's life.

"After I put the picture up, she saw it, and she sent me a private e-mail in which she said that Rowan might have retinoblastoma in her left eye," Santos said. "She said, 'Not to worry you, but I think you should look at this Web site.'"

The Web site detailed the condition known as retinoblastoma -- a potentially deadly form of childhood cancer that can affect one or both eyes. Immediately, Santos contacted her doctor. She saw him the next day, on the morning of Aug. 8, and he, in turn, referred her to ophthalmology and cancer specialists.

A battery of scans and other tests revealed that Rowan did, in fact, have a cancerous tumor growing on the retina of her left eye.

"Her prognosis is good, as far as the doctor can tell," Santos said. "[The cancer] had not yet reached her optic nerve, which would have then brought it directly to her brain."
Amazing. It never ceases to amaze me how the interwebtubes bring us close together in ways we would never have imagined before.

If you're so inclined, say a prayer for Rowan, for healing and a happy, healthy long cancer-free life.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:16 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 01, 2008

Dear Libtards,

I didn't intend on more Sarah-blogging today, but you people are making me swear (profanity alert below)....

Seriously? Are you seriously gonna run with this whole Sarah Palin is an irresponsible mother thing? The "Sarah the Hypocrite" meme?

Give me a motherfucking break.

First of all, would you be so "outraged" if the mom in question was Hillary Clinton, and the daughter a teenaged Chelsea? I fucking doubt it. And yet, the Clintons ran on a family values ticket, too. Maybe not as conservative as the Republicans, but I've heard Hill trumpet that family values thing a million times and so have you. No use denying it.

Second, you show me a parent, working or otherwise, who is going to sit on their 17 year old daughter 24/7/365. Kids do dumb shit. We all did something stupid or wrong as teenagers. We had sex, we drove too fast and recklessly, we drank, we smoked, we did drugs. If our parents never found out, it's because we just got lucky and got away with it, whichever of the above that we did before we turned 20. Bristol Palin just wasn't so lucky. Every parent who has ever been a child knows that no matter what you tell your kids, or how often you tell them, some things they are just going to do, from day one, and some lessons they have to learn for themselves. From "stoves are hot" to "sex is how you get pregnant".

Tell me how it makes you a hypocrite when your kid fucks up? I assume Sarah and Todd have told all their older kids about the consequences of sex. If they told her, and continued to reinforce their values, what else can we ask of them? It's not like Sarah held Bristol down and forced her to sleep with her boyfriend.

And what of that relationship? It looks like Bristol and her boyfriend are planning to do the responsible thing and marry and raise their child. Shouldn't we encourage that? Shouldn't we applaud a young couple with the maturity to face the consequences of their actions and face life head on? Chances are very good that this young couple will be better situated to succeed academically and otherwise given that they both appear to have supportive families who will help them in this time of extreme transition.

Don't tell me you don't know anyone who has ever been in this situation, either the teenage mom/ dad or their parents. It's a tough thing. I'll bet you weren't so harsh and judgmental towards the people you know. I'll bet they told their kids (or were told by their parents) not to have sex, too. They didn't listen either.

And you didn't go off the deep end. You were probably understanding, caring, even, maybe said a prayer for healing. You were probably willing to forgive the mistake and move forward. For your friendship's sake. For your family's sake.

So why the hatred towards Sarah and her family? Is it because you're terrified she can defeat your Messiah of Hope and Change? Is it that her political "inexperience" still beats your guy's "experience"? Is it because she singlehandedly knocked your guy out of the news cycle ALL WEEKEND?

It's kind of silly, the way you people look. Foaming at the mouth is unbecoming, and especially so when it's so out of proportion as a reaction.

According to the record, Sarah Palin has been nothing but a caring mom trying to do her best by her state and her family. Maybe that's too much for you to handle and it confuses you. I don't know. But then again, if your brains were working properly you might be asking the same tough questions of Obama and Biden that you demand of McCain and Palin.

Otherwise, just don't go there. And hopefully that's the last I will have to say on this subject, except to wish this young couple and their baby all the best in a long happy life together.

Posted by caltechgirl at 05:27 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 03, 2008

Why, Fred, Why? (Day 2 RNC speeches: Thompson and Lieberman)

Why didn't you run? I damn near peed myself watching you kick so much "pinkytoe" (to steal a sarahk-ism). This was among the best political speeches I have ever heard. I really hope John rewards you with some kind of role. In any case, I look forward to your time on the campaign trail....

And, Joe, my man, your Democrat friends are taking you off their speed dials tonight. That took serious balls. My hat's off to you for going through with the courage of your convictions and backing your friend for President.

Can't wait for the Sarah-Cuda tomorrow. I really look forward to hearing what she has to say for herself, and how she responds to the rivers of BS that have been spewing since Friday.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:05 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Sarah Palin Delivers: Updated!

I am blown away. Just blown away.

Maybe because I agree with almost all of the things she said tonight, but she is a dynamic speaker with a common, inviting manner that makes you WANT to listen to her.

I loved her speech. I still want to hear her speak to Troopergate, and why she filed an ethics complaint on herself. I want to know more about her earmark requests and whether that's consistent with McCain's position on pork.

But I think she did a masterful job of introducing herself, avoiding distasteful issues, and SKEWERING the Democratic ticket on a number of issues.

I look forward to more from Sarah as the campaign continues, and I think she'll continue to prove just why John McCain picked her as his running mate.

UPDATE: Here's what some of my Cotillion sisters thought of Sarah's speech:

BSCBeth blogging at RightPundits


See Jane Mom

Right Wing Sparkle


Zoey at Blatherings

BethW at Yeah, Right, Whatever

Little Miss Attila

Kat at Cat House Chat

And here's Sarah herself. All 45+ minutes of her speech:

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 04, 2008

John McCain: Service, Sacrifice, Substance

John McCain did what he needed to tonight. He was positive, forward-looking, and highlighted why HE was the best candidate for president. He pointed out differences in his platform and that of the Democrats, but he didn't really go after Obama. Which was a SMART move.

Certainly, it was not as electric as Gov. Palin, but in my opinion, he drew people in and hooked his audience pretty well.

I liked that he had some substantive nuggets of policy. That he will push comprehensive energy reform, looking to new and cleaner sources of energy, as well as taking advantage of our OWN resources. That he favors school choice which includes public school options, and not just vouchers for private schools. That he wants to retrain American workers for modern jobs instead of chasing down the long-gone factories, because they sure as hell aren't coming back.

Most of all, I loved that he said this:

I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.
That's such an amazing statement. Humble, thankful, and sticking it to Obama (the "anointed" one, the "chosen" one). All in the same sentence.

Yeah, he may be a complete asshole, but he talks good. And I want to see what he and Sarah will do in Washington.

See for yourself:

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 06, 2008

Surprisingly NOT about politics: Reviewing the Samsung Instinct by Sprint

So it's been a week now, and I haven't yet posted about my new baby.

I'm quite a fan. I must say it is a severe departure from my previous, traditional flip cell phone. There was definitely a learning curve, and I still have scrolling issues, but overall I've learned to use the phone and I love it.

Among the things that took some getting used to was the "click and drag" feature, which is essentially how you receive and end calls. You essentially drag a large button across the screen to a destination which leads to action, rather than tapping. That was a paradigm shift for me.

And there are a few features I miss, such as having a separate ringtone for private or blocked id calls. I also am sad that there's no Google Talk support, although you CAN access Yahoo! Messenger, MSN, and AIM via the web.

I also miss the universal power plug that my old phones had. We had quite a supply of chargers using that interface, but alas, we had to ditch them for new chargers. Ugh. Oh well.

Among the pluses are a large, bright screen which so far is easy to use to select buttons, weblinks, etc., even without using the included stylus. Which reminds me. There was a shitload of swag in the box. Aside from the phone and documentation, there was a pair of headphones that could also be used as a hands-free headset, TWO batteries, a battery charging adapter for the extra battery, the charging cord, a USB cord to attach to a computer, a CD of phone related software, a leather case,a stylus, and a micro SD card with adapter.

The sound is also pretty good. The little stereo speaker can put out a ton of sound. Also, it's really easy to make and upload your own ringtones from your mp3 collection using any of a number of websites. My personal fave of these is mobilereelz.com, which allows you to upload the .mp3 of your choice, edit it to the piece you want for your ringer, and then converts it to the correct file type for your phone and carrier (use M4A for Instinct) with pretty good sound fidelity. For someone who sweated through converting mp3s to to WAV, editing the sound settings, and then converting to qcp and finding an uploader previously, this is SOOOOOOO easy and the ringers come out quite well. I use Audacity (YAY! FREEWARE!) to edit mp3s down to size before uploading them, and then just select all of the uploaded file to be converted.

Dr. Horrible ringtones? You bet.

Speaking of sound, both the regular ear speaker and the speakerphone are clear. I sound good to people who I talk to, and I can hear them clearly. This is also true when using my bluetooth, something that people I know have complained about with regard to the iPhone.

The web is also quite speedy. It hangs noticeably on graphics-heavy pages, and there are several anecdotal stories on the net of pages that REFUSE to load, but I haven't had any of those issues. My biggest net pet peeve is that doesn't seem to want to connect when I want to update my email, but it will receive new messages and vibrate at the MOST inconvenient moment. At least it doesn't ring for new messages while in sleep mode. It does, however, ring for calls in sleep mode.

I know Sprint is trying desperately to develop apps for the Instinct, but so far the pickings are slim. And in some cases, EXPENSIVE. I look forward to the Holidays, when I expect there will be a big push towards getting apps out for all the people who will be getting these new toys for Christmas.

Battery life is better than I expected. I usually charge my phone during one or both halves of my daily commute, and I haven't had any power problems, even with heavy web/text use. I was expecting something more like the iPhone, where keeping a spare battery would be a good idea, but so far so good. If you lay off the web, the battery life seems comparable to a more traditional cell phone.

This is my 6th mobile phone (I got my first celly in 1996), and the 4th Samsung handset in a row. Say what you will about technology companies, but Samsung phones have always been good to me, and I'm hopeful this will live up to the hype.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Google Talk for the Instinct

As I said previously, although I LURVE my Samsung Instinct, one of the biggest minuses is that it doesn't yet have instant messaging capability, except via the web, and that Google Talk didn't work at all.

Well, I just discovered that I was wrong. Instinct users who use Google Talk should go here: http://m.heysan.com/ from your phone, click GTalk, and login. It auto-refreshes, displays a custom status, and even uses smilies! Yeah, it's web-based, but I could care less! It looks like GTalk and works like GTalk.

WooHooooooo! i can haz google talk!

h/t icemanj5 posting on this forum

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 09, 2008

If the world ends tonight...

It was a pleasure to have known you all.

You see, tonight, just before Midnight (PDT) the CERN laboratory in Switzerland is going to fire up its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) for the very first time.  Some physicists argue that beam collision could be the very end of our existence...DON'T CROSS THE STREAMS, VENKMAN!!!!

But I don't see any stewardesses crying Caltech professors running around jumping out of airplanes and spending millions they don't have on fast cars and flashy bling, so I guess we're all gonna be fine.

So what is the LHC?  According to CERN (which stands for: The European Center for Nuclear Research, just in French):

The LHC is the world's most powerful particle accelerator, producing beams seven times more energetic than any previous machine, and around 30 times more intense when it reaches design performance, probably by 2010. Housed in a 27-kilometre tunnel, it relies on technologies that would not have been possible 30 years ago. The LHC is, in a sense, its own prototype.
CERN technicians have been working on the LHC since construction began on its 27 km-long tunnel in 1983!  Tomorrow morning completes the final stages of preparation, with the beams colliding for the first time.

Extensive studies have been performed to determine whether it's even SAFE to do these experiments, and hundreds of physicists agree that we won't vaporize the universe out of existence at 9:30am CEST (that's Central Europe Summer time).  You can see for yourself here.More on safety considerations here. (sorry, they won't let me embed the video)

If you're so inclined, you can watch the proceedings here, beginning at 8:30am CEST (10:30 PM Pacific)

And if you want to what on Earth they'd make such a thing for, try watching this:

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 10, 2008

On second thought...

Turns out the Earth is safe for another six weeks.  Particle collision won't begin until Oct. 21.

But the beam circulation was a massive success.

Yes, I did stay up and watch it. On Caltech's EVO system, logged in with the rest of the geeks.  At least all the way through beam 1.  I used to be a particle physicist before I decided to spend my life playing with brains.

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 11, 2008


Flat on my back, staying home from work.  Pain.  Memories from 7 years ago making things worse, too.

Today is a bad day.  Don't tell me you're sorry or you want me to feel better.  It will pass.  It always does.  And it's less than a blip in the grand scheme of things.

Just tell me something amusing, I really could use the laugh.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:02 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

In my quest to amuse myself, I found this

Now this is an EFFECTIVE political commercial!

Love the wolves! And the slowly sinking text.  Masterful!

h/t Teh Llamas

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 12, 2008

Y'all keep your fingers crossed for me

As some of you may know, about a year ago I was forced to move from a cozy office in an out of the way corner of the building to a more front and center office that at least facilitates interaction with my students.  When I moved, I had to leave all of the furniture except my file cabinet in the office, and I only got to take that because the person who moved in said it was too big for him to deal with.

This means that for the past year I have been making do with a crappy, old, MDF computer desk that has pull out shelves and no drawers that I managed to scavenge and 2 tiny borrowed bookshelves.  You sense a theme, here.  Yep.  No drawers.  So I have been living out of boxes.  My tiny desk is a mess, all cluttered with students' papers, office supplies, my computer, phone, and calendar.

A lot of people come to my office or pass my office.  And it is a frigging MESS.  It's despicable.  And I am SOOOO tired of it.

Unfortunately, there's just no money for office redo's.  However, my grant is ending and there's a small sum left in the supply budget.  So if the Dean approves, I am getting a REAL desk and a hutch.  WITH DRAWERS.  And CABINETS.  So I can put things away for the first time in over a year!!!!!

Pray for me and my office, folks, I need it fixed for my SANITY.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:01 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 16, 2008

Excuse me? (Profanity alert)

Further proof that the Left has lost their minds.

Wendy Doniger, professor of Divinity at the University of Chicago on Sarah Palin:

"Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman."
EXCUSE ME?  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?  Of course Sarah Palin is a woman.  Last I checked she has all the requisite parts, including (most importantly) TWO X CHROMOSOMES.

Why the fuck do I bother anymore?

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:06 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 20, 2008

very sad...

It's blog crawl day and I have the worst cold I've had in months.  There's no way I can stay up, let alone partake :-(

Have fun, y'all. 

Posted by caltechgirl at 04:41 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 22, 2008

Funny, I was going to blog something

Damn cold medicine. It makes me loopy, so just a few quick takes for y'all

It has become increasingly clear to me that the Democrats are scared shitless of Sarah Palin. The sheer amount of vitriol being flung around (BTW, anyone know what vitriol REALLY is?) combined with the increasing hysteria about the fact that they can find any dirt that seems to stick is becoming increasingly laughable. Memo to the MSM: when hardcore BDS suffering Liberals begin to feel that the all-out, anti-Sarah barrage is TOO much, it's time to back off. And on a related note, so what if Sarah won't sit don for yet another hit-piece interview? Who said she had to let you piss in her sandbox? Or that she had to play your game? Especially when the rules change more frequently than Calvinball and the only thing that stays the same is that Sarah loses...

ESPN makes me happy. Not sure why, but there's really something comforting about being able to turn on something on the TV that sounds like the news, but won't make me scream and throw things at the TV. I need the "audio/visual wallpaper" when I'm working. Usually I have FoxNews or the local news on, but I just am so tired of knowing more about the story being reported than the editor or reporter who write and read the news scripts.

Anyone else think Kenley's dress on Project Runway last Wednesday looked like something Betty would wear on Ugly Betty? Yeah, me too.

Fake sudafed is for shit. It works about 1/10 as well as the real stuff, and they don't make the formulation that works for me with the real stuff any more. AARRGH. So I suffer. Benedryl ain't cutting it either, and I am sneezing every 5 minutes. Not to mention waking up every 45 minutes and sleeping badly in between...

Just waiting to see if shit rains down on my head about coming home early. I met all my responsibilities for the day, I taught my class and picked up HW and went to my meeting, where I also sat far away from everyone so I wouldn't give them germs.

I still have a hell of a lot of work to do, and a million small personal things to get taken care of. But I think it's nappy nap time.

Two quick links before I go:
1. Check out the investigative journalism done by the fine folks at My Pet Jawa regarding anti-Palin "viral" videos

2.wRitErsbLock went to see the Sarah Palin rally at the Villages, FL this weekend, check out her pictures.

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:11 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 24, 2008

I so totally want to go

LA's first official Dr. Horrible Sing Along.  On Halloween, no less. But my parents are coming.  And we're going to a wedding the next morning.  AUUGH.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 26, 2008

Have you ever had one of those weeks?

This has been a rollercoaster of a week.  Up and down and Up and back way the fuck down again.

Moments of equanimity followed by hours of make-do, fix this, and putting out all the fires that suddenly spring up.

I'm not surprised it's fire season, BTW.  That's what it feels like in my head.  I have a million things to do, about 85 other things to take care of, and more things to prepare for.

And all I want to do is crawl under a rock.

Some people feel accomplished when they can plow through a to-do list of small errands, phone calls, and the like.  Me?  I just feel exhausted, as if the mental task of switching glibly from thing to thing was more difficult than the doing.

However, I am making the phone calls I needed to make in the last 10 minutes before my first meeting of the day.  I have 3 back to back meetings.  Ugh.

More later, maybe.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:57 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 27, 2008

Thanks, Kitteh

Not only can I not brain, but I suffer from this malady, too!

Yep.  That's it.  Exactly.

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 01, 2008

It's all so fucked up

The water heater works.  That's about it.

Tonight was bad though.  We had a fight.  A bad fight, the kind where one's parentage and sexual preferences are called into question.

I suppose the fight's over.  We were both sorry and apologized.  Hell, we were both terribly frustrated by some small carelessness that might lead to another large expense, but I think we can get it fixed tomorrow.  At least I think it can be fixed reasonably.  If not, well, just add another shitty and expensive bill to the pile.

And now I can't sleep.  He's out like a light.  I don't blame him, he's had a long hard day.  But I just can't shake the anxiety, the grouchyness.  I knew I would have trouble sleeping so I self medicated and put on a movie (Ratatouille, actually), but here I am at 20 after 2 AM.  Typing.

It's like I'm no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Hell, the shoes just keep dropping.  So many rotten things have happened over the last few weeks to people I care about, I just want to put my fingers in my ears.  And there's more.  Lauren has to put down her puppy-boy, and Kate's FIL passed away. And there's more that I can't blog about because I haven't been given permission and it's not out on the interwebs.

Tonight's issue was just another stupid thing in what seems to be a rising tide of stupid things.  I am trying so hard to keep my head above water and stay positive because really?  I have it pretty good.  I have a job I could love, a wonderful home, a sweet and adoring husband that I heap much abuse on undeservedly, and 2 loving, healthy puppies.

I guess I just feel lost.  All of these posts are such downers, but that's where I am right now.  I'm not sure where I am or what I'm doing.  Lately it's just one fucking fire to be put out after another, with no energy left to do anything else.

And now it's 2:30 and I don't feel any better than I did when I started this.


Posted by caltechgirl at 02:33 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

More rollercoaster...

The up:  I just checked the bank.  Hubby indeed got paid, state budget be damned (first check after summer!  YAY!), and he got a really nice raise (this is a "target" year in his contract, so he essentially got a longevity raise plus the new negotiated raise plus COLA).

The down: Property Tax bills came out today.  I checked the Assessor's office.... I have until April 10 to come up with $6400!  Fuckers.  My house is worth 30% less courtesy of the tanked out housing market but we didn't qualify for a reassessment because it was less than a year after we bought the house during the reassessment period.

Somebody just find me a hole to crawl in, ok?

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:53 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 03, 2008

Happy Birthday, LemonheadsNick and Nora!

It's been an amazing first year for you.  I can't believe you're already starting trip #2 around the sun; so big and so independent and such funny little people.  Your Mum and Dad are so proud of you and love more than you can ever imagine.

And seriously? Your Mom has such great taste in music.....

Hope you enjoyed your presents and those awesome super cupcakes!

Auntie CTG

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 16, 2008

As an aside...

if McCain can't pull this thing out of his ass, it will a hell of a lot of fun to spend the next four years shouting at President Yo Mama.  At least until they take away my right of Free Speech.

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 17, 2008

More unsolicited endorsement

The laptop arrived TODAY.  Ordered yesterday morning.  Huzzah for Newegg and UPS, although, seriously, the driver could have hidden the package a bit better, but no harm no foul.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Alfred Smith Dinner Roasts

If the whole campaign was just a giant roast, it would be no contest.

And maybe we wouldn't get so tired of election years.....This is frigging hilarious. McCain brought down the house, and Obama was a hoot, too, though he was clearly less comfortable with the comedy.

John McCain:
Part 1:

Part 2:

Barack Obama:
Part 1:

Part 2:

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:24 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 21, 2008

kill me now - a rant with F words....

If I see one more fucking commercial for another proposition I will rip out my eyes. Particularly that fucking Jamie Lee Curtis Prop 3 commercial. You are SO not conducting those kids, get off it.

And that fucking Gavin Newsom quote anti-Prop 8 commercial on the radio. It's highly effective. I hate him so much I'm thinking of voting yes just to spite him. Says the girl who stood up at the wedding of her(gay)dear friends. Legislating marriage is bad law, and I was thinking of voting yes for that reason, anyway.

And seriously, I notice that it's only the McCain/Palin signs and "Yes on 8" signs that are getting stolen and defaced. I thought it was the LEFT who were supposed to be the peaceful, non-violent, tolerant ones.

yeah, right. Just fucking kill me. Or at least put me in a coma for 14 days.

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:08 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

October 23, 2008

A Democrat challenges the MSM

Hugo-award-winning author Orson Scott Card, a lifelong democrat, presents a challenge to the MSM to restore their honor.  You've probably seen it everywhere by now, but it is masterful, and bears repeating.  I excerpt here the last section of the piece (at length, sorry, but it's worth it), but the whole thing is worth a thorough and thoughtful read.

Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?

You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.

That's where you are right now.

It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.

If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.

Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.

You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.

This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.

If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe --and vote as if -- President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.

If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats -- including Barack Obama -- and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans -- then you are not journalists by any standard.

You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a daily newspaper in our city.
Card's words so eloquently describe my own feelings on the matter, and I also agree with the reasoning behind his choice to vote Republican.  He describes his feelings here, from 2006:
There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror.

And the success of the War on Terror now teeters on the fulcrum of this election.

If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one.

Unfortunately, the opposite is not the case -- if the Republican Party remains in control of both houses of Congress there is no guarantee that the outcome of the present war will be favorable for us or anyone else.

But at least there will be a chance.

I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.

But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages.

[...]What really scares me is the 2008 election. The Democratic Party is hopeless -- only clowns seem to be able to rise to prominence there these days, while they boot out the only Democrats serious about keeping America's future safe. But the Republicans are almost equally foolish, trying to find somebody who is farther right than Bush -- somebody who will follow the conservative line far better than the moderate Bush has ever attempted -- and somebody who will "kick butt" in foreign policy.

So if we get one of the leading Democrats as our new President in 2009, we'll be on the road to pusillanimous withdrawal and the resulting chaos in the world.

While if we elect any of the Republicans who are extremist enough to please the Hannity wing of the party, our resulting belligerence will likely provoke Islam into unifying behind one of the tyrants, which is every bit as terrifying an outcome.

I hope somebody emerges in one of the parties, at least, who commits himself or herself to continuing Bush's careful, wise, moderate, and so-far-successful policies in the War on Terror.

Meanwhile, we have this election. You have your vote. For the sake of our children's future -- and for the sake of all good people in the world who don't get to vote in the only election that matters to their future, too -- vote for no Congressional candidate who even hints at withdrawing from Iraq or opposing Bush's leadership in the war. And vote for no candidate who will hand control of the House of Representatives to those who are sworn to undo Bush's restrained but steadfast foreign policy in this time of war.
It applies today.

Card's arguments, though slightly dated, still hold, and represent a thoughtful contemplation of the outcome. Will we be better off finishing the job, or running out on the world like a bunch of pansies? Will that affect our lives here at home? And mainly, who's really calling the shots in each campaign?

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thar she blows! (now with Profanity!)

Finally, I rant on the election (in stream of consciousness at 1am, so please excuse the grammar and typos and occasional lack of punctuation):

First up, John McCain.  I'm going to set aside any personality issues I have with him, and even issues with why he is the candidate, and grant, up front, that he is the candidate for the republicans.  He's tough, smart, clearly qualified for the job, and probably ready for it.  He's also plenty healthy or he wouldn't be jumping around the country like a 12 year old, so fuck off to all you twits who say that he can't live out the term.  I really have little else to say about John, except that I can't believe his temper hasn't got the better of him yet, and I wish we had a better candidate, rather than the default guy (Fred!  I miss you!  You would have stuck it to Obama every chance you got instead of smiling like a pansy!)

Which brings me to Sarah Palin.  You have all underestimated her.  All of you naysayers, Republicans and Democrats alike.  The woman is NOT stupid.  I repeat, NOT STUPID.  She is very bright, and like many clearly bright people, is counting on her intelligence to pull her through an experience she was NOT prepared for.  What you see is a classy chick trying to hold up her end of the bargain and do the job she KNOWS she can do as VP, even though maybe she wasn't clear on what this campaign would be like.

I have no doubt that she would be a good VP, and even, God forbid, a good President.  There's nothing wrong with her that can't be said of the 3 dudes on the tickets.  And seriously, all this hoohah over $150,000 for clothes and makeup?  Are you kidding me?  How much did Hillary or Barry spend on the same things?  I know he wears makeup; I can see it on the TV.  And how much were Biden's teeth and hairplugs?  I mean come ON. If you're going there, I can too. 

How fucking scared are the Democrats when all they can pull on her is that her 17 year old daughter is pregnant (but remember that according to them this is pregnancy #2 and she delivered Trig while knocked up with this baby) and her supporters spent a lot of money so she could look nice.  Give me a motherfucking break.  What about Obama and Bill Ayers?  What about the ex- Fannie Mae CEO that ran Fannie into the ground and left in disgrace (but $90 mil RICHER) before Obama asked him for advice.  Can we please put this in perspective?

Why does she scare you people so?  Is it because you can't remember how to deal with people like the Palins?  Or maybe that she's smarter than you?  Or (gasp) that voters see her as real, approachable, and sensible in the ways that your candidate is not?  And we're talking about the potential VP here, not the POTUS candidate.

Honestly, if Sarah Palin was really as much of a non-entity, in that milquetoast-vanilla-Dan Quayle way, as the liberals are foaming at the mouth to portray her, would it be WORTH all the effort?  I mean let's face it.  Dan Quayle was a fucking farce. A joke.  From DAY 1.  DAY 1. And Bush, Sr. knew it.  But he got away with it because Dukakis was a joke as a candidate too.  Sarah Palin is no joke.

Verily, I am amused at the sheer panic, the slavering, the need to get a dig in at her.  To make people feel bad about supporting her.  Why do that if she's Dan Quayle all over again?  Seriously, if she's a joke just let her shoot herself in the foot.

Let's step over to another Sarah issue: Trooper-gate.  This might have some teeth, and could be a real issue, but you notice no one in the media is pushing this very hard, even though hearings are taking place.  Why?  Because there is NO there there.  The person who asked for the initial inquiry isn't even the guy who was fired.  It's the sour grapes guy who lost to Sarah in the gubernatorial election.  Don't believe me?  Do the Google search yourself.  Look at the articles in the Anchorage paper and the verified supporting documents posted all over the internet.  The evidence is all out there.

I think the real problem with Sarah Palin is that a lot of smart people like to think they succeeded in life because they are smart, and they automatically assume that all the fuck-ups in this world are the not-smart ones.  People like President Bush, and Sarah Palin, who present themselves to the world as less than uber-intelligent, and succeed ANYWAY, threaten that world view. 

I can see some of you squirming.  I know you.  I went to school with you.  I work with you.  Hell, I AM you from time to time.  I know what I am talking about and there's no denying it.  I freely admit to having an occasional elitist moment.  Smart people often have a certain world view about intelligence and ignorance: tolerance and acceptance is intelligent, rejection and exception are not; Environmentalism is intelligent, questioning or denying global warming is ignorant; Getting a college education is intelligent, going without shows your ignorance.... I could go on and on.  Smart people are (or at least THINK they are) informed and tolerant, they want to give back and save the world and make everybody equal.  And if you don't agree with those simple, wonderful things, you're ignorant, too.

Well, then kiss my ignorant PhD-covered ass.  Because I don't agree. 

People are amazing, and intelligent without a college degree or a fancy job or shared beliefs.  That's the whole principle of Academic Freedom.  We learn from each other by sharing our diverse ideas.  Not by censoring, or dismissing out of hand the ones we think are ignorant.  Ignorance is bliss after all.  And the paradigm shifts born of ignorance have generally changed our world for the better.

Sarah Palin and George Bush clearly don't fit the paradigm.  And well, we fear that which we do not understand.

And another thing about this election, a question I am DYING to ask my students (but which would reveal my own political leanings, something I am careful NOT to do.  They pay me to teach Biology, not politics), or any democratic voter, is WHY do people love Barry Obama so much?  Do you know what he stands for?  Or are you only voting for him because of his position on the War?  Do you even understand the implications of THAT?  Are you voting for him simply because he's the Democrat?  Because he's not George Bush?  What did Bush do to you anyway?  Do you understand what that means (in a real sense, not linguistically)?  Do you even know what the Republican platform says?  Hell, what the Democratic platform says? When Obama says change, what does that mean to you?  How do you think that will work?  What can he change, how will that help you?  How exactly has Obama demonstrated to you by his actions that he is ready to be President?

As an informed voter, I can answer all of those questions with regard to why I am voting for McCain.  I would guess many McCain supporters can, but that may be a personal bias.  what the fuck, though, it's my blog, my opinion.

I would also guess that many Obama supporters can NOT.

Look, I think it's great Obama is running.  I love that our country has become so colorblind that any person of color could run for any office.  And yet, Obama's supporters focus on the negative: that racism is the only reason keeping people from voting for him.  Give me a fucking break.  Could it be that we disagree with him?  Are black conservatives racist, too, because they choose to vote for McCain?  I figure it this way if Obama wins, no one can ever pull the race card again.  I mean, is there any greater measure of how far we've come than to elect a black man as our President?  I mean holy shit, a black man and a woman running against each other! (yeah, yeah, I know, but you can excuse the conflation of the tickets to make my point)

I wish people wouldn't bring up race.  We'll always have racism until we stop talking about it.  My words included.

I wish I understood people's motivations better.  Hence the questions, above.  Maybe then I wouldn't be so angry at the political discourse that seems so full of invective.  More this year than I can ever remember.  Except for one occasion when I saw a young lady wearing a t-shirt that still haunts me.  But that's a rant for another post on why the electoral college is important.

I have a number of friends who are voting for Obama.  I am proud that some of them can actually answer the questions I have posed, and I respect them for making an informed decision, and politely disagree.  I just wonder what percentage of voters on both sides actually can.

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:18 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

October 27, 2008

Dear African American "Community Leaders",

You are all a bunch of fucking hypocrites.  That's right.  I said hypocrites.  I call BS on you and, as they say in South Park, I declare shenanigans!

Some idiot with bad taste and a worse sense of humor hangs a Sarah Palin doll from a noose and you don't respond?  Dare I even suggest that you think it's funny because she's running against your Obamessiah?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but about 10 years ago you all were so mad about a BEAR in a noose that you forced USC to abandon a decades old student tradition of hanging bruins (the UCLA mascot) from tiny nooses.  LITTLE TINY TEDDY BEARS. In UCLA shirts.  You said it was racist.  You said that it was reminiscent of the lynching of black men by the KKK.  You said you were offended.  So we stopped hanging TEDDY BEARS.

I get your point, though.  Hanging people is not a joke.  It's MURDER.  And that's never funny.

And now, these people have NOT A BEAR, but a life-size mannequin of a woman, dressed as Sarah Palin, hanging from a noose in their yard and you say not one word.  Why?

I'll bet my house that if it was Barry Obama swinging from the yardarm you'd have had 3 press conferences already, and called the police out to arrest these homeowners for a hate crime.  Perhaps for racial intimidation.

And yet you say nothing about this.  I'm offended by it, and I'm clearly not black.  Not as a conservative, or because I am a woman, but because I think it's disgusting.  Hanging a bear, or a skeleton, or something clearly not representing a particular person is one thing, demonstrating by your Halloween display that you wish someone a painful death is quite another.

And I still want to hear your outrage.  If you all could muster that kind of vitriol for a few teddy bears, I bet you can come out and preach it about this Sarah Palin mannequin.

I'll be sure to be there to support you when you do.


h/t Flap

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:08 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

October 29, 2008

Happy Blogiversary to me!

Four years (and over 300,000 hits!) ago today, after being dragged kicking and screaming, I opened up shop here at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

I'd been commenting and quasi-blogging for a couple of years by then, and a bunch of people were constantly on my case to just shut up on their bandwidth and get my own.

So I did. Obligatory sucky first post here. Yeah, I know it says 10/30, but trust me, it was 10/29 when I posted it.  Blogger sucks.

And this is the result.  The world has changed a lot over the last for years, and so has my life, but the blog has been a real constant.

So thanks, y'all for making my life a lot more interesting and putting up with me virtually for the past 4 years!
Posted by caltechgirl at 09:57 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

November 03, 2008

Head in my hands, Heart on my Sleeve

I've been thinking a lot about Prop 8.  It's the only ballot measure I haven't yet decided on.

My head tells me to vote yes and tell activist liberal judges to get a fucking clue.  That CA's registered Domestic Partnership law provides the same rights to gay couples who register as marriage does to straight couples.  That marriage is a construct not of the state, but of the church, and really the RDP law should apply to gays and straights both as a "civil union," a mere contract.  That "marriage" is solemnized and consecrated by your belief system, whatever that is, and abides by those rules.  God's rules.  Or gods' rules.  Whatever you believe.  Not the state's rules. 

I worry about the consequences for churches and ministers who are against marrying gay couples, for whatever reason.  Will they be breaking the law if they refuse?  Will they lose their 501 status? Will anyone be allowed to believe that homosexuality is wrong or state that belief?  It may be bigoted, but in this country, people have a right to believe as they choose.  We call it Freedom of Religion.

And you know, I just am so tired of all the in-your-faceness of the Prop 8 fight.  I just want to vote no to say HA!  Keep your "whether you like it or not" and all your Gay PDA on TV (for the record, all PDA on TV makes me sick, we've just seen a lot of it with this Prop 8 thing).  It makes me want to be perverse and give all the Prop 8 opponents the finger.

But my heart tells me differently.

As I've mentioned many times on this blog, one of my dearest friends is gay, and he married his partner about 5 years ago in one of the most beautiful, heartfelt weddings I have ever seen.  I was proud to be a "bridesmaid" and stand up for them, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I remember feeling so clearly the love between them, and seeing how precious they were to each other.  I could never take away from them the things that DH and I have, the comfort of knowing we are each other's first and last resort, that we make each other's life and death decisions, that we share the rights and responsibilities of our life together for better and for worse.

I received this today, via email.  I hope my friend won't mind me sharing it with you in part, and with the names redacted, of course.

Hi Everyone,

As you know, we're barely a day away from the most historic election of our time. But as you are also probably well aware, there's a lot more at stake than the Presidency.

Here in California, one of the most important -- and one of the closest -- issues you can vote on is Prop 8.

Prop 8 seeks to eliminate fundamental rights for one group of people. If passed, Prop 8 would take away something very close to Nick and me: our marriage. I trust you agree that eliminating fundamental rights -- from anyone -- is unfair and wrong.


If you want to help but don't have much time, here's something simple you can do:

The simplest thing you can do is to call everyone you know when you have a few free minutes on Tuesday and bug them to go vote if they haven't. Even if they say in advance that they'll vote, call them on Election Day to make sure they've voted. Even if it looks like the Presidential contest is over nationally by 5 or 6 pm our time, it's still critical that everyone goes to the polls to vote NO on 8. And even if it's raining, and even if the lines are long ... that shouldn't matter.

Finally, please modify and pass along this e-mail to everyone you know in California.

(And, no, you don't need to call N or me on Election Day -- we have both already voted by absentee ballot.)

Thanks so much for all your support!

A (& N)
I just can't tell them no. As much as I think this whole issue is screwed up and proceeding ass-backwards and I want to vote yes to make a political point, I don't think I can look my friend in the eye and tell him I voted to take away the marriage that means so much to him in favor of a lousy, meaningless contract. Unless you give me one of those lousy, meaningless contracts, too.

So this girl's in an unfamiliar quandry: head or heart?  I can't tell which makes more sense.

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:23 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

November 04, 2008


Well, it's over for me anyway.  As of 7:15 this morning.

Our polling place is at a little church a block or so away, and we thought the lines would be small this morning, so we decided to chance it.

Arriving at just before 6:45, this is what we found:

The mother and daughter directly in front of us (blue and black jacket, respectively) were perusing the Democrat Voter Guide, which irked the crap out of my husband.  He kept muttering "think for yourself!" and "know what you're voting for" under his breath...

According to the numbers on our ballot stubs we were #29 and #30 to vote at our precinct.  It took about 30 minutes to get to the door, where the check in was, and to get through the ballot.  Then I had to wait because the lady in front of me (in the blue jacket, above) voted twice on Prop 10, so she had to decide whether to re-vote a new ballot, or just ask the computer to accept her ballot and NOT count her Prop 10 votes (she decided for the latter)....  In any case, we were both done by 7:20, and despite the worst morning traffic I've ever seen in The 'Dena (two Sigalerts on the 210 so everyone was on the streets!), I got hubby to school on time and I am back home prepping for my lecture this afternoon.  Or at least I will be as soon as I finish this post and get my bagel out of the toaster.

Go vote.  It doesn't matter who or what you vote for, as long as you vote your conscience.  I did.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Put away your race cards

That argument doesn't hold water anymore.  This country just elected a black man as President.

It's gonna be an interesting two years.....

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:04 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

November 05, 2008

The Fresh Perspective of Morning

I went to sleep around midnight, after gorging myself on the scant hour of local returns coverage we got, courtesy of overzealous networks that wanted to rehash the historic events of yesterday.

On waking this morning I found myself very reflective. How am I going to respond to what happened yesterday.  Instinctively, I reach for Pollyanna: everything will work out great! But I know better.

The truth is, I would like to spend the next four years nitpicking and slamming and treating Barack Obama with all of the disrespect that was lavished on George W Bush for the last 8 years, and for the same non-reasons.  But I can't do that.  The man IS the President-elect, and let's be honest, he ran a hell of a campaign.  I'm not saying it wasn't dirty, or race-baiting (hell, all you have to do is turn on a TV and see a crying black person exalting about "we're" in the White House to know that), or that it was the best campaign ever.  I'm just saying he did more, had a better strategy, and all around out-foxed the other guy and his people.

Last night's speeches were probably the best of the campaign, particularly McCain's heartfelt concession, which I thought was the ultimate in class.

President Bush's speech this morning was also thoughtful and classy, and it struck me as one of the best from him in a long time.

He and Senator McCain must be so relieved this morning.  That it's over!

I honestly don't know what's going to happen.  My own prediction is that the Democrats will soon be victims of their own success.  With such large legislative majorities, they can't blame it on the Republican whipping boy anymore.  Combine that with the deep divide in the party that began with ultra-liberal vs moderate democrats and grew over the race between Barry and Hillary.  Which creates an opportunity for the GOP to remind people what they are all about, without the looming "spectre" of George Bush and Dick Cheney as the faces of the party.

The pendulum swings, and this time it has swung towards something entirely different and unknown.  All of the TV talking heads made this point last night, a question I have raised before, as well: WHO is Barack Obama? What will his policies be?  How will he lead this country?  The campaign always focused on Obama the man, not Obama the leader.  Even the most enlightened political insiders are unsure of what's next.

Which brings me to my last point.  Listen, I appreciate that racism is a visceral thing for many blacks.  That the memory of discrimination is palpable.  But this isn't 1968.  Racism isn't what you think.  It does not exist the way that you remember.  White people don't automatically see black folks as less.  I've seen so many black people on TV saying that NOW (only NOW???) they were going to tell their children to dream big dreams.  WHAT???  Why aren't you teaching your children to dream big dreams already?  Why can't they succeed?  Maybe because you're teaching them that they can't?

AUUUGH.  It grates.  That black folks are "proud to be an American again" that black children "now have a chance"  GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELVES.  This amazing country is a place where ANY child has the opportunity to become ANYTHING.  Nowhere else do children born in poverty have the opportunity to rise to the heights of fortune and fame.  And you take it for granted and piss it all away because you think, THINK, that someone will try to take it away from you because your keratocytes take up more melanin.

This ladies and gentlemen is the culture of victimhood.  That because we've never had a black president, you couldn't let your children dream of being the president.  How the fuck are we ever going to get there if we don't think of it first?

So I will congratulate Barry Obama.  He won, seemingly fair and square.  Sure, I could point out that the black dude won so nobody's bitching, but that would be counterproductive and petty.  I will congratulate him, and at the same time let him know that we are all watching.  And we will hold him to his promise to hear our voices.  And we will hold him accountable.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:09 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

November 06, 2008

You're here, you're queer, GET OVER YOURSELVES

For the record, I voted NO on Prop 8, folks.

Now that THAT's out of the way, let me get to my point.  Last night's protest rallies in West Hollywood and elsewhere did NOTHING to help the No on 8 cause.

The election is OVER.  The ballots have been counted.  The "No on 8" side lost.

Sitting in a busy intersection, holding up traffic and waving signs from an election that's past now doesn't make people want to support you.  It makes people think you are a bunch of whiny crybabies with nothing better to do than to hold them up in traffic.  Which, as we LA folks ALL know, is shitty without protesters blocking up the main intersections.

So get over it.  Wipe your tears.  Get up and fight back. The RIGHT way.  The SMART way.  Don't make your opponents so upset that they resent you.  That's no way to "win friends and influence people."

You looked like a bunch of sissies in front of a big bully last night.  Seriously.  Do you WANT to play to stereotypes?  Do you think that's anyway to bring people to your cause?  Sure it rallies people who agree with you, but the majority of Californians (at least according to the vote) probably thought it was pathetic and predictable from a "bunch of whiny sissies"...

You have plenty of recourse beyond crying in the street: go to court now, although I doubt you'll get far with that (for two reasons*), AND put it back on the ballot as soon as you can.  And in the meantime, conduct yourselves so as to make people feel more favorable toward gay marriage outside of CA's two big urban centers.

I feel your pain. I know, it's really sad.  In some cases, it's devastating, and I know you want to be able to cry and rage together, but YOU CAN NOT DO IT in the middle of the street.  Sure, it's your right to peaceably assemble, and I'm proud that 99% of folks last night WERE peaceful, but it's just not a smart strategy.

Acceptance of gay relationships has always been an uphill battle, so in order to get this changed, the strategy has to be smart and focus on getting the opposition to see gay people as simply PEOPLE.  Not whiny, childish, idiots.  There's a lot of stereotype to get past.  This kind of disruptive public display doesn't help.

From the MOMENT the polls closed on 11/4 and the first announcements showed 8 running behind, it was going to be a long and difficult campaign in the next election.  But the goal, and what will END this endless cycle of "gay marriage propositions," should be acceptance and tolerance in general.  By everyone.  We should be working to help people come together across CA and the world.

Not just for or against one ballot proposal or another.  Which it seems HAS been the strategy.

Wouldn't it be smarter (albeit harder, I admit) to work on people's thoughts and attitudes in a LONG TERM sense, rather than playing on their fears regarding their senses of self (e.g. only bigots vote yes on 8). People will vote their conscience.  Help them understand what they fear.

Welcome Instapundit fans! Thanks for dropping by! Feel fee to click around and come back if you see something you like!

** Two reasons (in my completely non-legal opinion) below the fold:

Read More "You're here, you're queer, GET OVER YOURSELVES" »
Posted by caltechgirl at 11:32 AM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

November 09, 2008

Heaven, thy name is Bacon Apple Pie

A few weeks ago Instapundit posted an item about a bacon apple pie featured at Amazon's al dente blog.  The pie, which was originally created and made by Eli, of the EliCooks blog, is a somewhat traditional apple pie, except for the bacon crumbles inside and the lattice top made of bacon.

Ba-con.  Mmmmmmmm.  Here at Not Exactly Rocket Science, bacon is our favorite food, hands down.  Nothing beats bacon for tastiness or indulgence.  In fact, I prefer to eat bacon stuffed bacon with a side of bacon for breakfast if I can.  Yum!

Bacon is Meat Candy.

And don't tell me about the cholesterol and all that.  I know that.  That's why I only actually eat bacon every so often, and it is truly a special treat.

Anyway, as my birthday is coming up, and bacon is well and truly my favorite treat, I thought I'd give this one a shot in the hopes of coming up with some birthday non-cake sweets.  I modified the original recipe a bit, as I don't have any Cinnamon Bacon or scotch in the house and we're not big apple/maple combo fans....(see the recipe at Eli Cooks)

Here's my version, based on Eli's recipe:

CTG's Happy Birthday Bacon Apple Pie

1 9 in pie crust (I ended up making 2 pies because I had enough filling left over, YMMV*)
4 strips bacon, cooked crispy (NOT burnt) and crumbled (I used the microwave)
5-7 medium to large tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used Pink Ladies)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (the original calls for nutmeg and cloves separately, but PPS is nutmeg, mace, cloves, and cinnamon. WAY easier)**
1/2 tsp cinnamon **
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
2+ Tbsp Butter, in small chunks
6-12 slices bacon***, halved lengthwise (make sure you get some fat in each half!)

*Your Mileage May Vary
** PPS and cinnamon are pretty subjective tastes, add more or less depending on your preference.  Taste an apple slice once everything is mixed and before adding to the crust.
*** you'll need 6-7 slices (12-14 halves) for the lattice of one pie, about 12 slices for 2 pies

Note from Eli: The quality of the bacon here matters. You want a bacon with a good flavor when fried and eaten alone, because that's almost what you have on top of the pie. I should also admit that I used store-bought pie crust. Honestly, I think the stuff you buy in rolls in the fridge case is almost as good as home made and a hell of a lot easier.

I concur. Save some time, buy a good pie crust. Trader Joes has a fine one.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the pie crust in a 9 in pie pan and leave about 1/2 inch overhanging edges. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the bacon crumbles on the bottom of the crust.

Peel (if desired), core, and slice the apples. Mix together the apple slices, remaining bacon crumbles, brown and white sugar, PPS, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and cornstarch. Spread over the bacon in the pie crust. Break the butter into small chunks and place on the top of the apple mixture, spread evenly apart.

Butter plus bacon may be too heavy duty for some. You can leave this out altogether if it seems too fatty.  But the pie has a tendency to be drier than most because of the lack of a true top crust, so the butter helps. If you like the butter, be sure to add enough. 2 Tbsp may be less than optimal for your pie.

Arrange the half-strips of bacon over the top of the pie crust in a lattice, then fold the edges of the pie crust over the bacon and crimp. This is crucial because the bacon will shrink as it cooks.

Another Note from Eli: The bacon lattice really doesn't want to stay tucked in around the edges of the pie. Be sure to include extra bacon sticking off the edge of the pie and tuck it down the inside of the crust to help mitigate this. Also, having a larger rim of pie dough to extend a bit further toward the center of the pie would probably help.

Place the pie tin on a cookie sheet and bake in the center of the oven for about 50-60 minutes, until the bacon on top is crisp, the crust is golden-brown and apple slices are tender.  My two pies, on a dark cookie sheet, took about 55 minutes and were done perfectly. Again, YMMV*.

My yield was two pies, 6-8 slices each, from the above recipe.  Try it warm with GOOD French Vanilla ice cream.  You'll think you died and went to heaven.

Be sure you have enough bacon. One package wasn't enough for lattice for two pies, although the recipe made enough filling for two (or perhaps I had too many apples) but there should be plenty of slices in one package of bacon for just one pie.

Sorry for the lack of pix. The pie came out a bit ugly without enough lattice on this go-round. Maybe next time!

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:44 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

November 12, 2008

An even BETTER way to say Thank You

In keeping with yesterday's post, a better way to say thank you to our vets is to give a little back to help a lot.

Long-time readers know that Soldier's Angels is one of my favorite groups, and in particular, Project VALOUR-IT which provides voice-activated laptops and other technological devices to wounded servicefolks who can't otherwise easily communicate with the outside world or who need help with rehabbing their injuries.

Imagine being stuck in a hospital in the Middle East or Germany, your family and friends thousands of miles away in the US, and your hands and arms are casted up.  How do you hold the telephone?  How can you type an email, even just to say, "I'm fine, and I love you?".  VALOUR-IT makes that possible through our donations.

And VALOUR -IT depends on all of us.  Without donations, they are quickly running out of funds with a waiting list hundreds of names long.  Even a small donation ($5) goes a long way.

Each year, bloggers team up in a friendly competition to see which service can raise the most funds for our wounded vets.  All the money goes to VALOUR-IT, regardless of which team you donate to, but it's fun to compete.

As usual, I am soliciting donations for Team Army (Go Army, Beat Navy!) in honor of my precious husband's service.

Just click the button to make a donation, either here or at the top of the left sidebar.  If you'd like to  "join up" and help as well, click here.

Thousands of wounded vets (and a hundred or so bloggers!) thank you!

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Rich!

Happy Birthday, my dear friend.  May you have a wonderful year of love and laughter and happiness!

Posted by caltechgirl at 04:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 10, 2008

No, you're not seeing things

Given my utter lack of Christmas cheer, I thought I might brighten things up with a return visit from the Snowfolks of No Evil, who some of you may remember from a couple of years back.

Boy, CSS is just like riding a bicycle... I haven't played with the site design in a while, and I was afraid I'd screw it up royal. Especially since I went from 2 columns to three since the Snowfolks last came out to play.

They need names, by the way. Any suggestions?

So enjoy the holiday theme. At least there's some snow in my virtual space....

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:36 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 11, 2008

I think we have a winner

The Snowfolks of No Evil, in an ironic twist, shall henceforth be known as Penny, Billy, and Hammer.

Notice that the "Corporate Tool" one even has a tie.  Nice touch, I thought.

Congrats to Sleepy Beth for suggesting the winning trio of names!

BTW, if you don't get it, you REALLY MUST go here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 01:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 15, 2008

From the Why Me? file...

This morning I go out to the car to go to work, and what do I find?  An inch and a half of standing water in the driver's seat.

Either the seals around the sunroof are dead, or someone left it cracked.  Likely me.


One seat cover and two bath towels later, the seat was usable, and the headliner and flip-down sunshade on the driver's side were mostly dry.  Oh, and the carpet too.

It remains to be seen whether it was negligence or maintenance that caused my morning freak out.

Either way, definitely NOT the way to get my Christmas cheer going.

I had been doing pretty well, too.  Christmas cards going out, lights hung all over the house, wreaths, I was getting there.

So I treated myself to Peppermint Mocha #2 while I picked up a $tarbucks gift card for our gift exchange this afternoon.

That helped.

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:44 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 30, 2008

Time for Donuts!!

When Tammi was out here interviewing a couple of weeks ago, we decided that since her stay was too short to get together, when (not if!) she got the job we'd have to go out for donuts to celebrate.

Because Tammi loves donuts, see, and the best donut place in the whole world is just down the street (well, in the same town anyway) as her new job.

Looks like I just need to wait for her to get her butt out here.

Congratulations! YAY!

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December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

My wish for everyone for 2009: When you find out what you want to do with your life, go out and do it, don't wait for tomorrow.

And give your sweetheart a big ol' kiss too!

Wishing you all blessings and joy in 2009!

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:44 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 08, 2009

Winter Recess

After our alloted two weeks of winter, it's supposed to be 75 degrees tomorrow and sunny here in Los Angeles.  Not to mention Santa Ana windy.

I think the SnowFolks of No Evil will be hanging around here a bit longer.  If nothing else, to remind me how the rest of the world feels (ok, ok, the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.  Sheesh, you people!)

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Whole LottaNot Much Shaking Going On

According to the USGS we had a 5.0 4.5 earthquake at 7:49 PM just south of San Bernadino.  That's about 50 miles east of here.

Not surprisingly we barely felt it.

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January 10, 2009

Think Happy Thoughts....

... And sprinkle a little fairy dust....

Tomorrow, January 11, two amazing people are going to follow through with a resolution they made in August and run a marathon in honor of people who have been touched by cancer.

WB and Bou are running the Walt Disney World marathon on Sunday as part of Team in Training, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Together they've raised just shy of $5300 for cancer research.

I'll be thinking of you both and watching your split times from here, and wishing you fleet feet and much success!

Please take a minute to click over and wish each of them well! And maybe enough of us do it, then maybe just maybe, they can fly!

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January 11, 2009

You're probably wondering...

What's all this twitter talk about Ted Kennedy being under my house?

Well, unfortunately, I don't have him locked in the slab a la Jimmy Hoffa, but he is in fact gone.  And really, that's preferable.

Because this is Ted Kennedy:

* Actor Portrayal, not an actual Kennedy

Dear Teddums is a skunk.  A skunk who decided that the underside of the stairs to our den was a perfect place to curl up on those cold winter afternoons.

Seems he knocked out a flimsy (likely VERY OLD) grill that was covering the entrance to the crawlspace under the main part of our house and found himself a cozy, warm spot to sleep in sometime Wednesday morning.

We left him to his own devices until we could do something about keeping him out, yesterday.  We flooded the crawlspace with light and turned on KROQ at top volume.

Teddy left the bar around closing time last night, as he had departed when DH got out of bed at 3:30 to check.

There's now a MUCH sturdier panel covering the crawlspace, which is actually secured to the wall itself, rather than just fit in place.

So why Ted Kennedy?  Well, yesterday I lamented that I wished the damn skunk would just LEAVE ALREADY, and Mike replied, "yeah, that's how I feel about Ted Kennedy too." And the name stuck.

Fare thee well, Ted.  Just stay the hell away from my house!

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Mission Accomplished

Bou and WB have each completed the Walt Disney World Marathon.  YAY!

Bou's finish time was 06:05:56, a 13:57 mile average and WB's was 07:00:57, a 16:03 mile average.

I am immensely proud of both of you!

That's a wrap, y'all!  Now get some rest!  You deserve it!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 16, 2009

My new blog crush

Maybe it's because I live in La-La-Land, but I am seriously digging Andrew Breitbart's new Big Hollywood blog.

So far it's a great mix of politics and the personal, the "biz", movie reviews, news, and especially Hollywood's new closet: conservatism.

I can even forgive that they hired la Schlussel.  But seeing as how she sucks, maybe they'll drop her, too.

If you haven't dropped by yet, I suggest you start with Charles Winecoff's piece "The Awakening of a Dumb (Gay) American" or Gary Graham's "One Pissed Off Dude."

Take an hour and read through.  You won't be disappointed.

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January 19, 2009

God sure has a funny sense of humor...

And I guess He's had enough of islamofascist terrorists killing in His name.  Or at least in one of his names....

So He sent them a plague.  The Black Plague.

ANTI-TERROR bosses last night hailed their latest ally in the war on terror... the BLACK DEATH.

At least 40 al-Qaeda fanatics died horribly after being struck down with the disease that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages...

...The killer bug, also known as the plague, swept through insurgents training at a forest camp in Algeria, North Africa. It came to light when security forces found a body by a roadside.

The victim was a terrorist in AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb), the largest and most powerful al-Qaeda group outside the Middle East.

It trains Muslim fighters to kill British and US troops.

Now al-Qaeda chiefs fear the plague has been passed to other terror cells, or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

One security source said: "This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease."

Bubonic Plague, also known as Black Plague, is spread by infected fleas.  The plague is really a little rod-shaped bacteria (bacillus) known as yersinia pestis.  The fleas live on rats and other small animals (such as squirrels) and are happy to feast on human blood, passing on the plague at the same time.

The disease is rapidly fatal if untreated, causing the patients lymph nodes to swell into painful boils, known as "buboes", hence the name "bubonic plague".  In modern times, exposure often occurs from animal control personnel handling dead rodents or accidental exposure on a camping or wilderness trip, and is usually treated successfully.  Clearly this is not the case in the remote mountains of Algeria.

Too bad germ warfare is illegal. Sprinkle a few microbes in a few caves, and we wouldn't have to worry about these asshats anymore, dammit.

h/t George Moneo at Babalu

And for some real (gallows) humor check out the comment thread for this topic at Ace of Spades...

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Keeping the Universe on the Straight and Narrow

Science, kiddoes.  Science. Dig it.

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January 20, 2009

I am not among the head-burying ostriches

Yes, I am going to watch the festivities tomorrow.

I am going to watch the O-bots cheer as their messiah of the new raises his right hand and takes the same oath George Washington did, using the bible of Abraham Lincoln.

Folks, like it or not this is our new President.  Hail the peaceful transition of power so rare elsewhere, and common enough here that we take it for granted, don't ignore it like it will go away.

It's not going away for four more years.   I for one can't hold my breath that long under the sand.

I am going to watch and rant and yell obscenities at the TV, at the idiots who don't remember the past as they bow down and worship The One.  I am also going to cheer the new President and enjoy the presentations of the Inaugural Parade.

Because really folks, this is it.  It's our history, like it or not, and we can be there for it, or we can pretend it didn't happen.  I'm of the opinion that the revolution WILL be televised.  And YouTubed.  And I'd prefer to be able to talk about it firsthand anyway.

I don't blame those of you on media blackout.  I get it.  I feel you.  But I just can't help but think it's another form of denial.  And I can't be in denial for 4 more years.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:22 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

My own thoughts

Just a few reflections on the Inauguration...

Funniest moment? Heard on C-Span open mike, Joe Biden arriving at the top of the stairs to walk down to the main platform: "Well, I made it."

Least expected moment? Rick Warren's prayer.  I am not a fan of public prayer.  For two reasons. One, prayer is (according to scripture) to be a personal, secret act.  Two, public praying tends to become a sideshow: quoting, telling God all kinds of shit he already knows, showboating by the pray-er.  You know what I mean.  Warren's prayer followed a more humble structure: he praised God's greatness, he humbled himself, he asked for intercesion, and ended with the Lord's Prayer.  Nice, actually.

Best moment? The Williams Quartet with YoYo Ma and Itzak Perlman.  Amazing.  And yes, I am a sucker for both Ma and Perlman.  Especially Perlman, whose playing regularly moves me to tears.

Most surreal moment: Again, captured by the C-Span open mike: At the end of Obama's oath, the crowd began chanting "CHANGE!" a la Randy Marsh.

By the time The One spoke, I was getting sleepy.  I noted that the first half of the speech sounded like a Republican (personal responsibility, huh?).  And then I crashed.

I could have done without Aretha.  Hang it up sister.  Your voice is going away, as it does to all divas at your age.  Let us remember you at your finest.  She did have a killer hat on, though.

Finally, poor Chief Justice.  His nerves got the best of him and he flubbed the Oath.  Here's hoping he gets it right in four years.

What say you?

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:36 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 21, 2009

Comfort and Canning

While most of the rest of you either watched or avoided the evening festivities surrounding the adulation of The One, I was busy in the kitchen.

Ooey-Gooey Mac N Cheese with bacon for dinner.  I needed comfort.  That's the very definition of comfort food.  Plus, I had to use up the last of the fancy cheeses from our New Year's Eve party, which were remarkably still mold-free.  I didn't want to press my luck further.  This was real white sauce Mac N Cheese, too.  A first for me.

After dinner it was back to the stove.  I'm like a kid after Christmas with my new toy.  Some of you may recall I got a small-batch canning cookbook for Christmas and I have been waiting for the stars to align to use it ( and by stars I mean time, inclination, and pectin). 

Last night I broke open the book for the first time and made a batch of Blood Orange Red Wine Marmalade.  Sadly, because our blood oranges are tiny, it made only a cup and a half.  Tonight I broke rule #1 and made a double batch.  Which made just over 4 cups.  YAY!

Then I decided to try and use up some of the apricots in the freezer that we got from our tree in the spring.  Batch #2 was a Winter Pear Apricot Jam.  That was tasty cleanup!  That recipe made 5 cups after skimming.  Not bad.

I was ably assisted by my awesome husband who is quickly learning the difference between tongs and jar lifters, and who has always been a dab ahnd at cutting, measuring, and heavy, hot lifting of pots and plates.

Net: 5.5 jars (+ a bowl in the fridge of leftover) Blood Orange Marmalade (two days), 5 jars Pear/ Apricot Jam, and half a casserole dish of leftover MacCheese.


Pictures as soon as I get a chance to download.

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Like Cheese on Chinese Food

Republican rhetoric coming from The One, that is:

I'm not a big fan of Jon Stewart, and I often think he's just plain unfunny.  But when he nails it, he nails it.  This made me laugh.  A lot.

Thanks to my afternoon Therapy Pool pals (Hi Stan!) for telling me to find the clip!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 27, 2009

The News from LA LA LAnd...

Most of the time, the news just disgusts me and makes me sad....

But every once in a while it also gives me hope....

Posted by caltechgirl at 05:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 29, 2009

Pictures and stuff

Lots of new pics on the Flickr page.  Including Flea performing with the Caltech Jazz bands (and our own Kjerstin, too!) and lots of glorious jam/marmalade food pRon.

Like this:

Winter Pear Apricot Jam

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2009

Keep your laws off my octuplets!

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely already seen the story of the Southern California who woman who gave birth to the world's first known surviving set of octuplets.

What you may not know, is that (no surprise) despite the family's plea for privacy, the vultures have been hard at work and have discovered that she already has (gasp!) six children, these babies were conceived (gasp!) via IVF, and that she's (wait for it........) a single mother living with her bankrupt parents.

"Where are the ethics??" scream the journos and the academics.  "How could you justify fertility treatment for a woman who already has a pack of kids?  Don't you have a MORAL OBLIGATION to keep a poor (reputedly on Medicaid), single woman from populating the planet with her bastards that the rest of us are going to have to support?"

There oughta be a law!  A law I tell ya! (read the comments here)

Well, there is a law.  Just not here.  I'm sure you've heard of China.

The selfsame "voices of the people" who decry this woman's choice to have a large family are the same folks who cry out bitterly about China's One Child policy.

Either fertility is regulated or it is not.  How many children is too many?  Is it a sliding scale based on your ability to pay for them?  If so, I'd wager most of us would have disappeared up the abortionist's vacuum tube.

Somehow they also fail to mention that if it's my choice to have a child or not, that includes BOTH outcomes: having the baby or not having the baby. The faceless critics lamenting this woman's "irresponsible choice" (a phrase uttered by a so-called Bio-Ethics expert during a news report this morning) are also the same crew lobbying so hard to keep abortion legal.

I'm sorry, but I thought "Keep your laws off my body" was an absolute.  Or does that just apply to the popular choices?

I haven't even touched the infertility aspect of this case.  Many of my dear friends struggle with infertility, some have pursued multiple courses of treatment.  Some, ultimately, decided that the pursuit was futile despite the deepest longings of their heart for a biological child.  Having seen the struggle that so many endure, it seems to me that any successful procedure resulting in a healthy baby is a win.  Perhaps those of you who have been down this road would like to chime in.

Certainly, it is a pertinent question, how will this mom support 14 children?  But how does a 14 year old support one baby?  How do two parents with two careers handle two or three small ones?  Raising kids is not easy for anyone at anytime.  14 children, including (reportedly) 2 with special needs and 8 infants presents a huge challenge, but that doesn't mean necessarily that the children will be neglected or hungry.  In fact, it's entirely possible that these 14 kids will be MUCH better off than some kids with only one or two siblings.

You can't have it both ways, either people get to choose the family they want, or they don't.  And if they don't, who makes the rules?  Based on what?

It works so well elsewhere, after all....

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:47 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

February 04, 2009

What do Klingons and Toilet Paper have in common?

Evidently you find both in a 7-11 in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs police are looking for a man who hit two 7-Eleven convenience stores early Wednesday, armed with a Klingon sword.

The first robbery was reported at 1:50 a.m., at 145 N Spruce St. The clerk told police a white man in his 20s, wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and wearing a black mask, entered the store with a weapon the clerk recognized from the Star Trek TV series.

That weapon was a Bat'leth, a crescent-shaped Klingon blade.

Now that's some serious Bij!

I'm not sure which is worse, using the bat'leth to rob the 7-11 or knowing its name, as both clerks evidently did.

Or maybe that I knew how to spell it and the reporter clearly doesn't.

Scroll down and check out the comments on the news article.  Pretty funny stuff, especially if you know some Klingon....

h/t Stacy (via twitter)

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A New Hunt for the Nuge

Ted Nugent is hunting a new animal these days, The Porkasaurus!

I'm on the track of one, a bigger more dangerous critter than I've ever hunted before: the Obama-Pelosi Porkosaurus.

The Porkosaurus is plenty dangerous by itself. It subsidizes unemployment by increasing unemployment benefits. And, as the man said, when you subsidize something you get more of it. It doesn't spend anything -- not one thin dime -- on the one thing that economists say is guaranteed to stimulate the economy, defense spending. And its whole purpose is to feed Fedzilla and make it grow even bigger, swallowing our economy whole.

Click over and read the rest. Uncle Ted has some interesting ideas about stalking the beast and starving it to death.

If you've never read Ted before, you're in for a treat.

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:24 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 06, 2009

I'm pretty sure I am going to lose my job

And it's not my fault.

Gross $$ mismanagement means we are losing both faculty and programs. And no, they won't tell us who yet. 10 days to sweat it out.

Anybody know anyone looking for science PhDs?

Maybe I will get to take advantage of that mortgage bailout after all.

Now, if you'll excuse me I need to clean up my face and go teach while I still have a class TO teach.

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:30 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

February 10, 2009

Your Moment of Zen

Dark, strangely calming zen.

Metallica, Wherever I May Roam.

Thanks, honey, for leaving the Black Album in the CD player.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 11, 2009

Today's moment of Zen

There Will Be Rest
by Sara Teasdale

There will be rest, and sure stars shining
Over the roof-tops crowned with snow,
A reign of rest, serene forgetting,
The music of stillness holy and low.

I will make this world of my devising
Out of a dream in my lonely mind,
I shall find the crystal of peace, -above me

Stars I shall find.
(right click and save)

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 16, 2009

Serial Twit

Caltechgirlcaltechgirl it's not about IDEOLOGY, you fucking turd it's about breaking poor people's backs. Gas goes up $0.14/ gallon INSTANTLY

Caltechgirlcaltechgirl Sales tax OVER 10%, and then increases in income tax and car fees. Do you want people to MOVE OUT FASTER?

Caltechgirlcaltechgirl I wish I hated my house and I could afford to sell it. I'd leave CA tomorrow.

Caltechgirlcaltechgirl I can't afford to stay.

Caltechgirlcaltechgirl FTR, the fucking turd in question was some stupid ass liberal state senator who evidently only represents RICH PEOPLE

Caltechgirlcaltechgirl I
think if you find yourself in a hole this deep, the first question you
should be asking is not how do we fill the hole, but rather...

Caltechgirlcaltechgirl ... how did we get here? What are the bad decisions that led us here. And then don't repeat them.

Caltechgirlcaltechgirl Because you can only blame "the economy" so much.

Caltechgirlcaltechgirl I
thought the democrats were the champions of poor people. I guess that's
true only until they need them to bear the brunt of their mistakes.

The above was in response to some opportunist idiot on the TV taking advantage of the camera in his face to make the budget mess all about Democrats vs. Republicans.

That's just ignorant.  What it's about is how much are we going to take and who's listening.  Have you heard the man-on-the street interviews in the media?  NO ONE wants you to solve the problem by choking us to death with taxes.  NO ONE.  Yes, some tax increases are necessary, but how are we spending the money?  Isn't there something that can be done without shoving it, quite literally, on to the backs of your constituents?

I've heard both sides point out that this economy is based on spending.  Great.  Explain to me, then, how people can get the economy going by spending when it costs them more NOT ONLY to buy items, but also TO GET TO THE STORE. And more of their income goes back to the state to begin with.  These people are barely spending, and you're threatening to put a BIGGER hurt on their wallet?

You don't improve this state by taking money from people. You encourage them to give the state more than you would take by giving them incentives to buy.

As much as I hate the sheer size of the "porkulus" package that the President will sign tomorrow, I have to point out that it is based on INCENTIVES.  And maybe that's why people were willing to pass it.  Because the help is obvious.  It's money going to people.  Not coming out of their pockets.  At least not today.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 26, 2009

Friday Countdown

Tomorrow we attempt to beard the lion in its den.  I could use any prayers or good wishes you can put forward.  Not for me, though.  For our students.  If things continue as they are, my students will be the ones who will suffer the most.

I just want so much to be a part of effecting a change that will make things WORK.

Thanks in advance.  I'll keep you posted.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 27, 2009

Friday night fights

Well, so it didn't turn out terrible. We were taken seriously by some of the lions referenced below.

We'll see where things go from here.

And seriously, I have the awesomest husband in the universe.  I came home to delivery chinese food ordered and an expensive bottle of sparkling pink wine in the fridge.

Egg rolls and pink bubbles really make all the bullshit fade away.  Going to spend this weekend chilling and enjoying my time away from stress-world.  See you on the flip side.  Or at least on Twitter and Facebook.

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 11, 2009

May the Fleece be with You

Shamelessly ripped off from Jimbo of the Great Farookin' Hair™

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:28 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 13, 2009

Happy Pi Day 2009!

3.14  Enjoy some pi(e)!

And Happy Birthday Albert Einstein!  Today would be # 130!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 16, 2009

Happy Birthday!

It's the big 3-0 for my un-related sister ZTZCheese.

Happy Birthday, babe!  I hope you have a wonderful day (even though you have to go to work!) 

I wish we could go out to celebrate with you, but I know you understand why we can't.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 05, 2009

So, we're back

Told you I wasn't dead.  And you'll notice that Hammer, Penny, and Billy are gone, too.  After an incredibly stressful time, both personally and professionally, it's time I stopped killing people in Mafia Wars on Facebook (although there's no way in hell I'm going to quit doing that), and started venting again.

However, I think there's going to be a serious change of focus.  Yes, I'm still into politics, but frankly, I'm better than that.  It seems like we can't even have a serious adult conversation where we agree to disagree unless we already KNOW EACH OTHER WELL ENOUGH TO HAVE ESTABLISHED RESPECT.

WTF?  Isn't that the point of having a dialogue?  That we can defend our ideas and hear what the other person thinks without thinking that they're "evil", "stupid". "religious", "stoned", or whatever other words we hurl at each other.  And, frankly, since when did being a conservative make you an Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin slurper?  Or being a liberal mean that you have to be in lockstep with the Obama administration?

So while politics will be here every once in a while, I'm going to take a page from Shannon, (and wow, how weird is it to be blogging and call her Shannon?) and just blog about me and my life.

Right.  So anyway.  Let's catch up, shall we?  Since I went on quasi-hiatus a lot has happened:

- The Tar Heels won the national championship in basketball
- I thought I was going to lose my job but it looks like that's on hold for a while
- Work went to hell and back and we made some serious changes to our administration
- My darling Princess turned 10 today.  What the hell would I ever do without her?

- I have managed to work through to level 161 in Mafia Wars.  I can't tell you what a stress reliever it is to log in and kill people
- I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic/ diabetic despite a serious increase in my exercise program and losing a very significant amount of weight over the last year.  My doctor thinks that it has something to do with my body reacting to the changes in my lifestyle and that by treating it aggressively we can knock it back and make it go away.  Hopefully permanently.  In the meantime my fingers look like a purple pincushion from testing my sugar at least 4 times a day.
-I don't doubt that the stress from my work situation has a LOT to do with the changes in my health over the last year

So I think that's about it.  Everything else is pretty good.  I have lots of pictures I need to post and more things to tell you about coming up.

Gee it's nice to be back.

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:32 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 06, 2009

A talent for avoidance

So here I am at work.  Which is kinda stress free for the nonce. 

I know, I know, you're getting tired of hearing about the end of the secret stressful thing, which, if I explain it, pretty much gives away my anonymity.  It being a momentous enough event so as to be googleable (and yes, that IS a word.)....

I have a pretty major project I am supposed to be working on right now.  As in at this moment. It's a PPT presentation for a  meeting next Tuesday about the work of a task force I was in charge of.  So I need to do it now so I can get feedback from the other membrs of our group before Tuesday.  See, I am trying to be responsible.

Also, all hell hasn't broken loose yet this week, so I thought I'd try to get ahead of the curve for a change.  As if.

And yet, here I sit, at the blog, at twitter, and at facebook.  Pissing away my time.  I rationalize: you work better under a deadline.... you're working it all out in your subconscious (I actually believe this to be true)....

You can't believe the shit I have invented for myself today.  I cleaned up my desktop on my computer, I made coffee, I organized folders under "My Documents" so that it's easier to find specific files rather than scanning a large number of filenames in one folder.

Big hint: if I'm organizing or cleaning either 1) I'm avoiding something else, or 2) the mess has increased beyond my ability to quickly find what I am looking for.

In the meantime, my phone chimes Dr. Horrible at me (the harp interlude from "everything you ever...") telling me that yet another work-related email demands my attention.  Crap.

Guess I should work after all.  The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can be off to the pool, and the less work I'll need to do tonight between rehearsal and jam making  (Strawberry).

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 22, 2009

Reflections on the side of a van

So I was driving in to work this morning when I passed a van which looked, from a distance, like the windows had seen better days.  Driving closer, I realized the windows were covered in writing, white shoe polish spelling out "Congratulations, Edwin Class of 2009" on the back, and "Proud Parent of Edwin, Class of 2009" on each side.
My first thought was "wow, Edwin must be so embarrassed."  But then I realized how proud his parents must be, to be driving around with that message shining from their windows at least a week, maybe more, after graduation.  And I realized that I was proud of him too, whoever he is, and what an immense accomplishment it is to graduate from high school.  It's something took for granted.  Of course I would finish school.  And college.  And grad school.  Been there, done that.  And of course I can't leave.  Still at school, although they pay me here :-)
But making it through 12 years of school is actually a lot of work.  Especially here in LA where some kids routinely dodge bullets on the way to and from school, and fights on school grounds that are just as deadly.  And let's not forget peer pressure, to use drugs and alcohol, to have too much sex too soon, and all the rest.  Kinda makes it hard to stay on track.

So here's to Edwin, and all of the other Class of 2009 graduates.  Good Luck, and keep up the good work.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 23, 2009

24 hours of Kindle

Well, folks, it's been 24 hours since the Kindle DX arrived, and I have to say, it is worth every stinkin' penny I paid for it.

I've seen a lot of crappy reviews.  Whiny ones, too, complaining that the PDF support is minimal and that it's a pain to hold the bigger frame of the DX, and blah blah blah.  None of that is true.

After a full day of use, I can report that the only things I dislike about the Kindle DX are kind of minor.  First, there are no folders.  Yes you can organize your files by date, type, and author, but there is no true file structure to help you keep things organized.  This would really be helpful for those of us who carrying around a lot of PDF files.  They get overwhelming fast.  The other thing I am not a fan of is the robot voice of the text to speech feature.  Either of them, for that matter.  You get your choice of male or female. I'm not sure how it is with standard English texts, using only simple words, but you start throwing in complex sentence structure and foreign words, and the robot gets lost.  All in all, though, it's still smarter than I thoguht it would be.

The Kindle has a number of uses.  First and foremost, it's a LOT lighter to carry than some of the books I have already downloaded.  Second, it's useful for a lot of tasks that would otherwise require a lot of paper: PDFs, Cookbooks (just take care to keep the Kindle clean and dry inthe kitchen!), and sheet music to name a few.  You can also annotate any text file, so taking notes during rehearsal ought to be a SNAP with the Kindle DX.  Text to Speech also makes a great alternative to books on tape (CD?) in the car.

The e-ink is another awesome thing.  It's like a real page, so reading outside is totally possible, unlike working on most laptops.  In fact, I spent much of yesterday evening sitting on the patio with the Kindle DX until it got too breezy to stay out.  Long before the sun went down. Unfortunately.

My favorite feature, though, I think, is the free wireless internet access (thanks, Amazon!).  It's Sprint 3G (where available) and not only can you download books from Amazon (many are free!), but you can also surf the web.  I think the web browser on the Kindle, while clearly limited, is still MILES beyond the one on my Instinct.  Not as good as my trusty ol' Firefox, though.  Maybe on the next one.  Several popular sites are pre-bookmarked, and you can add any number of your own, too.  You can also download files.  Kindle compatible files are automatically displayed on your home page by type, title, and author.  There are a number of sites out there that offer free e-Books that display on the Kindle and are available for Text- to- Speech as well.

The only feature I haven't played with is the mp3 player.  I'd rather listen to the books for the nonce.  The speakers are better than I expected, though nothing fancy, so I assume sound quality isn't terrible.

It has been quite an experience so far, from the moment I laid eyes on the box.  Even the packaging says "this is something special."

This is what arrived:

yeah, and the junk mail, too. 

But it was soon apparent that this is no ordinary box:

the inside was pretty too:

And it's so awesome.  Even the screensavers are cool:

There's a couple more pictures of the Kindle on Flickr!, including a very smart sticker and also some new jam and garden shots.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 30, 2009

Walking uphill in the snow both ways

At the risk of sounding like the proverbial old grandpa, kids these days have it too easy.  Case in point: a 13-year-old's review of the now THIRTY YEAR OLD Sony Walkman.

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.
Yeah, and the cell phones were the size of bricks and had batteries like the one in your mom's car.

Can you believe this kid?  Or his parents for that matter?  You mean to tell me that his mom and dad have never showed him a cassette tape?

Later, he whines about having to listen to the tape all the way through because there "is no shuffle,"and breaking the cassette"
Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly - effective, if a little laboured.

I told my dad about my clever idea. His words of warning brought home the difference between the portable music players of today, which don't have moving parts, and the mechanical playback of old. In his words, "Walkmans eat tapes". So my clumsy clicking could have ended up ruining my favourite tape, leaving me music-less for the rest of the day


The ignorance of this kid is breathtaking.  He's 13, meaning he was born in 1995 or 1996, depending on when his birthday is.  My 1995 car came with a tape deck in the top model stereo.  You could not GET a CD player in that car, and yet this kid acts as if the cassette is some kind of dinosaur.

And they gave HIM a platform?  If all 13-year-olds are like this, I am frankly scared.

Get a life, kid, and pull your selfish head out of your own ass and pay attention to the whole world around you.  Not just your easy little toys.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:45 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 29, 2009

Hating dook is really all that matters

Even in the NY Times:

"At the University of North Carolina, there are many different types of people: frat boys and flamboyant gays, football players and math geniuses, evangelical Christians and newly converted Buddhists; but it is safe to assume that all of us agree about what's most important: hating Duke."
In this student essay about the community that is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sophomore Emily Banks spells it out. It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from or what you believe, as long as you hate dook. It's a feeling, an experience, a sense of community: the Carolina family.

And no, it's really not all about hating dook. That just comes with the territory. But I do have to say that having been a part of many university communities, the UNC family really is a family, with its own community and values and sense of belonging. Even as a yankee-Californian-grad-student-transplant, I have no qualms feeling an equal member of the Tar-Heel-born, Tar-Heel-bred set. And sure as hell, when I die, I'm planning on being a Tar Heel dead.

I can empathize with Emily.  I came from a school with no sports and a bunch of nerds too (Caltech, you know?) and entered this bizarro world with green trees and flowers and HUMIDITY and gods on the basketball courts.  I mean, have you ever seen the Dean Smith Center (click for the picture)?  If you didn't know what you were looking at you would think it was one of those Megachurches.  No kidding.  It didn't take long for Carolina to embrace me with both arms.  Probably the second best desicion of my life was to go to UNC.  The place and the people changed me in ways I am only now beginning to understand.  And like Emily, it's a place I love with my whole heart.  Something I never thought I'd find anywhere but here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 04, 2009

GoogleVoice for military families

One of my most favorite new technologies (not that new really, but new to me) is Google Voice. If you haven't heard of Google Voice, it's a service that lets you 1) receive all your calls and texts from a single number (and rings whichever number you designate) and 2) transcribes voicemail to text or lets you listen to it online. You choose the number from a list they provide, and you may choose any area code or locality you like, so it can be a toll-free phone call for your family and friends.

It's actually quite convenient, and you can give people just one number and they can reach you anytime.  Especially if you're like me and drop the cell phone next to the front door and spend the rest of the evening in another room.... Or if you're like me and people don't want to call you because your cell is a different area code...

It's also a wonderful resource for anyone far from home with limited access to a phone, since you get voicemail directly over the internet, just like checking your email.  Especially for our overseas troops.

Which is why I was especially pleased to see this morning that Google is offering Google Voice subscriptions (free) to anyone with a .mil email address that activate in 24 hours. Army Live posted it this morning. In general, you have to request an "invite" to activate the service, and that can take several weeks.  This invitation would activate in 24 hours for military personnel.

For more information, the Google Voice info page is here and the invitation link for service members is here.

If you or someone you know can take advantage of this service, please do, and let Google know how much you appreciate what they're doing for our troops!

h/t Jeff Quinton (via twitter)

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 10, 2009

The Blue Screen of Death comes to us all in time

 But sometimes we win. I feel like my little Vaio has cheated death.

So my battery detached from my wonderful Sony VAIO laptop for 2 seconds and it died. DIED. And when I turned her back on, I got the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). Except I couldn't see the son of a bitch. It flashed and reloaded.

I could tell from initial googling that the problem required a Windows XP boot disk. Problem 1: Where TF is the boot disk? The laptop didn't come with one, and although I'm sure I made one, I can't find it. And conveniently, MicroHELL only has a FLOPPY DISK download for XP recovery.

But I got one, courtesy of google. Here: http://www.download3000.com/download-xp-recovery-cd-maker-count-reg-17676.html

Just save the .ZIP file and extract the .ISO file to a CD. VOILA! Boot CD! (make sure you have plenty of blank CDs, I had to make about 4 copies since my laptop wouldn't recognize a CD again once I had popped it out to try to restart)

Ok, so once the boot CD is in the drive, start 'er up. Press any key to boot from CD. I didn't have a BIOS problem booting from CD, but it's possible others might. After the Recovery CD is running, then I loaded the Recovery Console.

I never realized just how much DOS I've forgotten in 15 years. The recovery console is a modified DOS shell.

Anyway, I tried a bunch of things and realized I wasn't loaded into the shell correctly. Crap. Must freeze BSOD. So I looked it up. To freeze the BSOD so you can read it and copy down the error codes, I had to open up the startup options menu (held down F8 at the VAIO logo) and select "Disable Automatic Restart on System Failure".

That was the easiest thing I had to do. Now that I had BSOD stopped, I could read it.

UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_ DEVICE STOP: 0x000000ED (0x8A789030, 0xC0000006, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)

And back to google, which took me to three useful places.

First, here: http://msgoodies.blogspot.com/2007/08/fixing-unmountablebootvolume-on-windows.html, where the computer in question had an identical error,

and MicroHell: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;297185

and finally: http://www.smartcomputing.com/editorial/article.asp?article=articles%2F2006%2Fs1712%2F08s12%2F08s12.asp

The last is written for non-geeks. Probably the most useful link.

Based on all of the sites I visited between 9:30 when it fried and 2:30 when it got fixed, I decided to try a solution that was a hybrid of all three suggestions.

First, I ran chkdsk /r on the root directory (c:). After that finished, I basically followed the steps in #3 above.

However, this left me with 3 possible boot choices. Annoying and a mess waiting to happen. So I edited the new and improved boot.ini through Windows once everything else was working.

See here for instructions: http://vlaurie.com/computers2/Articles/bootini.htm

And finally, 5 hours later it seems to be working again, no losses. Tomorrow, ASAP, I will be doing a backup session to prevent the heart attack that was imminent for about 3 of those 5 hours.

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 11, 2009

Never Forget

Eight years later, there's one memory of 9/11 that still haunts my dreams.  I can't speak of it, but Cathryn Friar does at RightPundits, and sums up my feelings more eloquently than I could have today.

Desperate people jumped from all four sides of the north tower. They jumped alone, they jumped in pairs and they jumped in groups. They jumped holding hands.Nobody survived on the floors from which people jumped. Ultimately the jumpers, often called the day’s most public victims, chose not whether to die but how they would die. I am quite certain I would not have such courage.
Click over and read more of this thoughtful piece on some of the most courageous of the 2996.
h/t Kate at Blatherings via Twitter

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:25 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 07, 2009

iTunes 9 DOESN'T HAVE to suck -here's a fix!

Are you like the millions of other iTunes users who have been brought to you knees by the latest iTunes upgrade? Does iTunes hang until you kill it in Task Manager? (or force quit, for Mac types?)

It seems there are two major issues for Windows users:

First, the install locks up your iTunes files, designating them as read only. To fix this, go to C:\ProgramFiles and right-click on the iTunes folder.  Select "properties", then uncheck "read-only" under Attributes, and apply.

The second issue is that iTunes 9 doesn't play well with previous iTunes Libraries.  Go here for step by step instructions for rebuilding your iTunes library. Once you rebuild the library, you will have to resync your iPod or iPhone.

Some relevant discussions on the Apple.com forums if this doesn't help:

and there are dozens more.  Just search for "itunes" and "crash" etc. on the apple discussion boards.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:54 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 11, 2009

Is this thing on?

After being reminded this week that yes, you people do check in on me, I thought I should post some actual words to let you things are good, if BUSY AS ALL HELL.  As usual, I am doing far too much at work, and it sucks my will to live, like Garth and the Suck-Kut (50 points to anyone who gets that one!)

I am finally creeping out from under the semester from hell.  I expect to be around more in the moderately near future.  promise.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 04, 2010

Everyone else is doing it.....

Taking a cue from Shannon, Rachel, Bou, and many others, I thought I'd do a decade-in-review as well.

So it turns out this is just part 1.  Wow.  Crazy.

'99 was a huge year for me, I got my engagement ring, interviewed for, and was accepted to graduate school, graduated from Caltech, adopted my Princess, got married, and moved to NC, all before August.  Then we lived through 2 hurricanes, I started grad school, DH got his army orders, and we celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a married couple the night before he left for Ft. Sill.  We celebrated Christmas together at home in Fresno (yay for leave!) and rung in the millenium in my parents' living room, all the while laughing at the Y2K fools.

2000 started off with a blizzard.  Back in North Carolina again, I think it snowed the whole month.  At one point I measured 30" of snow on our back stoop.  I fell on the ice and broke my tailbone.  We got broadband internet for the first time.  I was addicted.  In the spring I taught my first General Biology classes and fell in love with developmental neurobiology.  DH was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground for more training, and I got my first sight of Washington DC traveling to see him.  On that trip I also discovered IKEAs in both VA and MD (YAY!).  I brought him home in May for 3 weeks of TDY before shipping him off to Ft. Hood.  Dipshit Stalker (who was the best man at our wedding) arrived in July, emotionally destroyed after a failed marriage and lost military career.  He was good until he found an outlet to start drinking again....  More on that later.  In August I dropped a pot of spaghetti down the sink and KNEW that the pain I was having couldn't be good for me.  I was subsequently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and started the odyssey of drugs, therapy, and bullshit that I have been on for almost 10 years now.  DH came home for Christmas, and we celebrated our first Christmas alone together.  I admit,  I went a little overboard, as I bought him what turned out to be a roomful of Star Wars toys.

After much indecision and not a little prodding from my program, I chose a thesis project, and began working on brain development in Schizophrenia.  In June we moved out of the apartment into our house in the country, dipshit stalker and his friends doing all the heavy lifting.  I paid them amply with beer and barbecue  About the same time I took and passed my qualifying exams, and DH, home on leave at the time, had his now-infamous drunk moment at the Carolina Brewery (ask him.  Funny!).  I flew home to CA for two weeks in July, best ticket deal ever ($197 round trip to LAX via Atlanta!).  In late August, DH and a friend conspired to surprise me, and he flew home on the same flight as the friend I was picking up at the airport.  He returned to Texas on September 9 so his unit could prepare for a field exercise scheduled to begin on 9/12. My other friend was scheduled to fly out on the afternoon of September 11.  She eventually left on 9/26.

I was awakened on 9/11 by the ringing of the phone.  My husband, eating breakfast and watching TV in the barracks had seen the first plane hit the Towers.  I turned on the TV just in time to see the second.  You know the rest.  I was numb and frightened for weeks, addicted to the TV.

DH eventually learned that he was not being deployed anywhere, and came home for Christmas, and the rest of the year passed quietly.

We spent New Years at Carolina Beach, and rang in the new year on the sand with poppers and champagne and group of friends, getting up in the morning at 5 am to get donuts from Krispy Kreme in Wilmington and watch the sunrise over the beach.

I continued working on my project and teaching.  We made plans for DH to begin earning his MAT when he finished his 3 year conscription.  I planted a garden, which the deer mostly ignored, and repainted the kitchen.

In the aftermath of 9/11 I discovered blogs.  My first "addictions" were Lt. Smash, a geek blogger named Jay Solo, The Accidental Jedi, and Dean's World.

Dipshit stalker got drunk one night, threw a tantrum, and threatened my life.  When I called him on it and threw him out, he hit me.  I called the cops.  They arrested him at work, gave him a TRO, and someone blew up my mailbox that night. I barely slept the next 6 months and left every light on. I got to know most of the Orange County deputy sheriffs.  Once they found out about what kind of military training he had, they circled my driveway every night for months, making sure he wasn't lurking somewhere in the woods surrounding the house.  Now you understand why I love cops.

In October, my Neon committed suicide under a Ryder truck (tire separation), and we got the Escape. In November, DH's contract finished, and he came home just in time for Thanksgiving, and then the storm of the century.  Ice fell from the skies and clogged up everything.  It was 6 degrees outside, and hundreds  of trees fell from the weight of the ice. We had three trees down in our driveway alone.  All the power was out for 7 days: no heat, water, stove, toilets, etc.  Everything in our house (including the water pump) was electric.  Thank God for the snow: it was like a great big natural freezer, so the food was good.  A tree fell on our brand new car, necessitating the first of many trips to the body shop.

The year began with a bang.  Two of our friends from LA flew in just before New Years, and we drove to Miami to see USC in the Orange Bowl vs. Iowa.  Of course we won. It was also my first trip to Pedro's South of the Border and the fireworks mecca that is South Carolina.  We made record time coming home, as we started listening to the National Championship game in Florida and saw the last two plays on our own TV. DH and I were both in school, me working on rat brains, and him first taking referesher science classes, and then beginning his MAT program.  It was a super productive year, workwise, generating the data that would be my first two papers.  dipshit stalker (although we can't prove it) broke into our house and stole some cash and my digital camera. Of course, it could have been a junkie, but then why didn't the other things of value walk away?  And how come only certain drawers were opened?

DH finished his MAT program and got a job teaching in Chatham county.  I got my first paper published.  In June we moved back into town so I could ride the bus to school (free in Chapel Hill!).  We became addicted to ESPN.  I started blogging (here) (finally!) after being a serial commenter for many, many years. Many of you became real friends, and not just people online. I taught myself to knit and crochet, and I learned the secrets of NC pig aka Eastern NC barbecue. In August we finally traveled to DC for real, road-tripping with the same football friends to the Black Coaches' Classic versus Virginia Tech at Fed Ex field.  We stayed in Landover and rode the Metro into the city, and walked around the Mall and the museums.  My favorite memory of the trip is sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial around 1 am, looking down the Mall.

2005 began with my advisor's announcement that he was leaving, so I needed to finish my project.  The winter was a whirl of surgery, explants, and writing, and I passed my committee in May.  In fact, I passed my thesis, left school, got on a plane, and flew to CA to look for a place to live.  We were coming home.  I finally got to meet a TON of my Bear Flag League blog colleagues at a brunch while we were in town. We returned to to NC finish the school year.  I taught neuroscience, gave my public defense, and on the last day of June we packed up the moving truck and our car and left NC behind.  We road tripped home, taking the 90 across through South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.  We met my blogchild (Paul) in Wisconsin, and had a crazy memorable dinner with Margi and family in Spokane.  We spent the 4th of July at Mount Rushmore.

Arriving in CA, we thought I had a job, and DH would be interviewing.  We settled on Pasadena, near my putative job, and with plenty of opportunities for him.  We chose a townhouse, and that afternoon I found out my job wasn't going to happen.  His however, DID come through, and he was hired after his first interview, for a job he still loves.  The townhouse came through just in time for the movers to drop off our things, and the next day we hurried back to Fresno for our friends' wedding. I looked for jobs all through the rest of the summer, and in October I was hired for a job I hadn't applied for, and which was, in fact, better! After I received my first paycheck, the first thing we did was go out and buy a sofa, since we left most of our furniture in NC.  I still miss my orange chair, for the record.  One of my biggest regrets is being talked into leaving it and my desk behind.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 11, 2010

Monday Morning Complaint Log

It's colder in the building than it is outside.
I'm not awake.
I hurt.
Traffic sucked.
The to-do list is already long.

Care to add yours?

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 11, 2010

Olympic Preview

For those of you who care, here's where you can find when the AWESOMESAUCE* SPORTS** will be broadcast:


Time zones listed are PT (at least on my screen), so you may have to reset for your location.  Man, I LOVE when the Olympics and I are in the same time zone!

* These are the ones I think are awesome.  And whaddya know?  This is my blog!

** Watching Curling is a top priority.  Curling will be TiVo'ed.  As will Ski Jumping.  I wish I was a Finn so I could have been a kickass ski jumper.

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 17, 2010

Flying While Fat*

* one girl's take on the idiocy of American air travel.  Fuck that.  The idiocy of AMERICANS.  Period.

By now we all know what happened to director Kevin Smith.  I watched it unfold live on twitter, as I follow both @southwestair and @thatkevinsmith.

And I feel for him.  As a fat chick who takes her chances every time I fly, I feel every ounce of the humiliation he was put through.  He paid for a seat.  He should get a seat.

Why do they kick off the "fatties" but not the smelly drunks, sick people, or SEAT KICKING BRATS?  I'd argue that any of the above pose more of a "security risk" than your average oversize person who would really rather melt in to the corner, not touch you, and just ignore you for the rest of the flight.

Maybe it's because our society sees fat as something reprehensible, the outward manifestation of a lifetime of bad choices.

In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Most overweight people are just trying to be normal, in fact they're PROBABLY trying a lot HARDER than the rest of you.  A combination of bad genes, bad luck, and the occasional bad choice makes me look like a tub of lard, and is not discernible on you. 

And yet I used to be afraid to eat in public.  That if I went out for ice cream with my husband everyone would think "Mr. and Mrs. Jack Sprat".  That people were automatically looking at me and thinking "lazy idiot" and "pig", which those of you who know me well know couldn't be farther from the truth.  I work out more than most people (at least up until the holidays, when I kind of fell off the wagon),  I rarely even eat three meals. A part of which,  I know, is my hang up about fat people eating too much.  I don't snack.  I don't eat dessert except on special occasions and rarely outside my own home or my workplace. Ironically, the fact that I eat very little probably is more dangerous for me than eating too much.

And of course fat must = stupid, since what smart person would choose to treat their body so badly or live with the daily humiliation, right?  Wrong. Like I said, it's a train wreck of bad genes and bad luck for a lot of people.    Some people do eat 3 fast food combo meals at a time**. Neither of which invalidates the PhD in Neurobiology hanging on my wall.
**one person I know who can do this regularly is my husband (who is 6'0, 165 pounds), so it's not like pigging out even computes.

But getting back to Kevin Smith.  The humiliation of even the possibility of being considered "too fat to fly" rankles.  It's one of the reasons I don't jump on a lot of airplanes.  It's why I have a number of flying strategies.  First, I always choose a window seat so I can bury myself against the window, away from other passengers.  I board early so I don't have to walk in front of anyone, I make sure the armrest is completely down at all times, and I carry my own spare seatbelt extender for those just-in-case flights.

Having flown on a variety of planes I can tell you this much: the belt sizes vary from plane to plane, and even from side to side on the SAME PLANE.  I have gotten off one plane where I had several inches to spare on the belt, only to board a connection and need the extender. Ridiculous.  And shameful.  I often wonder if I would have been kicked off any of those flights for even ASKING for an extender, if I didn't have my own. Once I get seated, I breathe a sigh of relief.

I do fit in the seat, in case you're wondering. Rather well, armrests 100% down.  It's just that you never know whether someone will single you out just by looking at you. Or whether you'll be randomly stranded at some connection because one flight crew passed and another took exception.  I think that may be the most frightening aspect: why apply the policy differently on different flights?  Why be vague about who needs to buy two seats?  Why make it so frigging difficult and so much more expensive?

Which brings me to my motivation for writing this piece.  I rarely agree, as many of you know, with the columnists in Salon.  Usually the tripe and drivel they spew makes me want to hurl.  But another tweeter passed this piece by Kate Harding on to Mr. Smith, and what she says is exactly what I have to say, regarding Southwest's ridiculous policy, and the haters both. Here's the beginning and end of her piece:

Whenever the issue of whether larger people should be forced to buy two airline seats comes up -- as it did this weekend, when director Kevin Smith was booted from a Southwest Airlines flight, and as it did last April, after United introduced a policy practically identical to Southwest's -- the first and only thing a lot of folks think of is that time they had to sit next to a fat person on a flight, and it was so uncomfortable.

Perhaps they even had the special misfortune of sitting next to a rude fat person, the kind who doesn't even seem contrite about infringing on someone else's severely restricted personal space -- a portly cousin to The Armrest Hog, The Seat-Kicking Kid or Reclines Right Into Your Lap Guy.  There's no shortage of rude people of all sizes, but it seems like everyone's got a story about that whale who made a two-hour or three-hour or even five-hour flight pure hell for the adjacent paying customers. (The fact that airlines try to keep costs down by packing passengers in like sardines and routinely overbooking flights has nothing to do with it, evidently.) And most of those people think charging larger customers double to make everyone a little less miserable is a perfectly reasonable solution.

Which is why part of me is glad the Kevin Smith debacle happened -- though I'm terribly sorry he had to go through it -- because it put a recognizable face on the experience of flying while fat. See, those of us who are and/or love people to whom airlines' "person of size policies" apply don't automatically envision the discomfort of getting stuck next to a fatty; we envision the physical and emotional pain of being the fatty crammed between two potentially hostile strangers, at the mercy of flight attendants who might decide we're fine on one flight and a "safety risk" on the next.


And then, against my better judgment, I read the comments sections on articles about this issue and see things like "Fat people should be imprisoned for over consumption. They've eaten more than their share! I'm glad I wasn't sitting next to this hog" and "I have travelled next to someone like, sweaty, panting, snoring, knocking drinks over at a sigh because the table was resting on him... Should have gone as cargo," and right here at Salon, "Fat people are disgusting. They should travel by ox cart or something. I mean really. Do they need to inflict their smelly fatness on everyone else?" (That person even finishes with a little straight-up eliminationist rhetoric for good measure.)

And I read comments from lots of people who are less openly hateful, but still think that fat people should buy two seats or lose weight or stay home -- not that the airline has any responsibility to, say, ensure that adequate seating is available for everyone or treat people of all sizes like equal (not to mention individual) human beings -- and you know what I think? Forgive me, but sometimes there's no other way to say it: Fuck you. That's what I think.

Fuck you indeed.  Read Kate's entire moving, thought-provoking piece.

If you still think Southwest was right, let me ask you this: In your heart of hearts, would you still agree with Southwest if Mr. Smith (or any of the other people Kate reminds us of) was removed from the flight for being openly gay rather than fat?

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:20 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

February 20, 2010

I'm not sick but I'm not well...

This was his theme song.

I tried so hard, but you wouldn't listen, you wouldn't reason, you wouldn't leave your dark place. You chose to make ME leave instead. You pushed us all out and built wall upon wall.

And the irony of it is, you took the pussy's way out, not the warrior's death you once envisioned for yourself.

I hope you've finally found some peace. I doubt it, but I hope so. I miss you. We all miss you.

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 29, 2010

Unwanted Caller PSA

Do you ever get calls from telemarketers and scammers who circumvent caller ID or who won't stop calling?

I get really damn tired of these people calling, every night at the same time (I'm looking at YOU Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) when they have been expressly told that I don't have a donation, or I don't need their business, prize, or mortgage help.  So when someone called for my husband this morning and hung up after telling me "It doesn't matter, I'll just call back," I got pissed off.  First they call with no caller ID except the number (a reasonably local number), then they won't tell me who they are.  Screw you buddy.  So I went looking and I found a few things.

First, I was right.  It was a cold-call telemarketer for a questionable home remodeling company based out of Compton. Second, I will be ignoring that number in future.  Third, there are great websites out there that have cataloged a number of these spammers and scammers and telemarketers.  Not just reverse lookup, there are many sites that register complaints and take data about the unwanted callers as well.

Here are a couple of resources to help you figure out who is calling you and who to complain about:
http://800notes.com/  These folks had the most information about the number that called me, with people leaving blog-style comments about their experiences.

http://www.mycallbot.com/ This site is an aggregator for several sites, it was the site where I found the other resources.  It also shows statistics about repeat calling and when the bastards call.

Shows reports of the true name of the business as well as the caller id display and official NANPA information about the location and assignment of the number

Of course if you are on the DO NOT CALL list, you can complain about spam callers here.  Also, remember that the registry expires after 5 years. To re-register or verify your registry, go here.  You can also register cell phones!

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:32 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 02, 2010

Look Before You Leap

I'm getting excruciatingly tired of the debate in this country over the new AZ anti-immigration law.  Everywhere you look it's one talking head or another bloviating about how the law is illegal and immoral and racist.

Really?  A piece of paper is racist?

But I distract myself from my point.

The point is this:  most people have never actually read the law, and all ANYONE seems to be interested in doing is screaming "NAZIS!!!" and "RACISTS!!!" rather than looking objectively at the REAL problem and trying to solve it constructively.

Let's lay out some basic facts first. 

1.  Anyone in this country illegally is a criminal.  That's what the word illegal means, folks.  No matter how well-meaning their intentions, if you come into this country without permission, you have committed a crime, whether you are Mexican, Chinese, Canadian, or ET.

2.  Producing documentation is not a burden.  Try to use that argument with TSA next time you fly anywhere.  See how fast you get on a plane without some form of ID.  I am so tired of people comparing this requirement to the nazis.  If this documentation requirement is nazi-esque, then so is the cop who pulls you over for speeding.  In the state of CA, if your license is not PHYSICALLY PRESENT with you in the car, you can be fined and have your car towed, even if the license is valid and you are able to give the cop your license number.  The kinds of documents that the AZ law requires are things like a driver's license, green card, or passport with entry date stamped.  These all fit in your pocket.  As an American traveling abroad, I would be sure to keep these things with me, in fact, if I was arrested in Europe, that would be the FIRST thing a policeman would expect me to give him.

3. Reasonable Suspicion is how police operate.  It's not automatically a racist intention.  If I am a policeman and I see a person running down the street carrying a large TV, I have a reasonable suspicion the TV might be stolen, and I can therefore investigate.  Which means to stop the guy with the TV and ask him some questions.  If it's his tv, he has nothing to worry about.  Without "reasonable suspicion", our justice system doesn't work.  I admit, as words on paper they are open to a lot of different interpretations, but NO ONE would agree that racism as a basis for reasonable suspicion is REASONABLE.  This is why racial profiling was deemed unconstitutional. Racial profiling IS using race together with other characteristics and circumstances as a basis for reasonable suspicion.  There are laws against that which people use every day to punish racist cops that use racial profiling.  Perhaps we should act against the racist people carrying out the laws rather than restrict the laws to the lowest common denominator. There's not much lower than racism.

4. The pot calling the kettle black doesn't strengthen your argument.  Here in Los Angeles we have heard quite a bit about the Mexican government's warning to all of its citizens to steer clear of AZ, yet they persist in some pretty harsh immigration policies of their own.  Under Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony. Mexico's General Law on Population (Consejo Nacional de Poblacion, last amended in 2000) requires the following: Foreigners may be barred from the country if their presence upsets 'the equilibrium of the national demographics,' when foreigners are deemed detrimental to 'economic or national interests,' when they do not behave like good citizens in their own country, when they have broken Mexican laws, and when 'they are not found to be physically or mentally healthy.' (Article 37) (ed. note: does this mean they can prevent you from going to Mexico if you are black???);  and The Secretary of Governance may 'suspend or prohibit the admission of foreigners when he determines it to be in the national interest.' (Article 38).  According to the law, Mexican authorities must keep track of every single person in the country: Federal, local and municipal police must cooperate with federal immigration authorities upon request, i.e., to assist in the arrests of illegal immigrants. (Article 73); A National Population Registry keeps track of 'every single individual who comprises the population of the country,' and verifies each individual's identity. (Articles 85 and 86); A national Catalog of Foreigners tracks foreign tourists and immigrants (Article 87), and assigns each individual with a unique tracking number (Article 91).  The law also imposes harsh penalties: A penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of three hundred to five thousand pesos will be imposed on the foreigner who enters the country illegally. (Article 123); Foreigners with legal immigration problems may be deported from Mexico instead of being imprisoned. (Article 125);  Foreigners who 'attempt against national sovereignty or security' will be deported. (Article 126); and Mexicans who help illegal aliens enter the country are themselves considered criminals under the law.  Mexico strictly enforces these rules when they choose to, yet they would ask us to limit our own control over illegal immigrants in our country. (analysis borrowed from here, originally here).

5. Hysteria and hype don't help ANYONE.  I am SO DISGUSTED by the parade of people wandering across my TV screen bemoaning this law.  NONE of them have read it, and none of them have any practical solutions.  They just want to get on TV screaming about racism and nazis and whatever else they can say to be sensational and get headlines and sway emotinal people who are either too busy or not intellectual enough to MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION.  It's very easy in this society to be BAD consumers of information.  We get a LOT of information thrown at us.  A lot of people are very good at making baseless, biased, and non-factual arguments to try and sway their audience (and they aren't all lawyers).  When you have so much information in your face, it's harder to sift through and find 1) the facts and 2) the informed arguments both pro and con, especially when most people have so few tools with which to think critically about what is being presented to them (based on US test scores in critical thinking, and our curricular focus elsewhere).  We need to make educated decisions based on good information and reasoned argument, not buzzwords and sound bites.  Have we become so intellectually lazy that we automatically label people and ideas because SOMEONE ELSE calls them a name?

6. Immigration is not important just because "life isn't fun without Mexicans".  Are you kidding me?  Do you know how racist it sounds when you say things like "Yeah, well, just see who looks after your kids without Mexicans around?"  As if that's all Mexican people can do is watch children, mow lawns, pick fruit, and clean toilets?  Can you be any more dismissive or racist?  Immigration is an important issue because this country is a place where anyone who comes legally can make something great.  What ensures that is our society and our system.  In our society, people must contribute both time and money for civic good.  They are accountable for that through our system of law.  People who are here illegally reap benefits without the accountability of those contributions, which drains all legal citizens, directly or indirectly.  Furthermore, there are a hell of a lot of immigrants, both legal and illegal, who are NOT Mexican.  Making the immigration debate about US vs Mexico, or only Mexican illegals, diminishes the real threat posed by illegal border-crossers and visa-overstayers of all nationalities who smuggle drugs and weapons and plot against law-abiding citizens.  Someone who "looks American" isn't necessarily here legally.

7.One last thing: nazis??  Really???  Do you remember what the nazis did?  Do you really, honestly think that the Arizona Legislature intends to round up all the Mexican people in Arizona, put them in camps, and slaughter them?  Every time we compare someone or their ideas to the nazis, we diminish the impact of the horrors they perpetrated on millions of Jews, Blacks, Armenians, homosexuals, communists, dissenters...... Let's not forget what they did, please.  Let's not diminish it.

Getting that out there, my own take on the law is that if it does nothing else, it gives a voice to the rising frustration that Americans feel about the tide of crap coming over our borders.  This DOES NOT mean that everything and everyone who comes into this country is bad.  Nor does it imply only our southern border, though without a doubt the majority of immigrants and immigration (both legal and illegal) in AZ comes via Mexico.  There are obviously many illegal entrants who come to the US because they want to improve their families, contribute to their communities, and have a positive impact. Perhaps even the majority of illegal immigrants could be described this way. However, it is increasingly clear that a large percentage of crime and poverty (and their costs to the rest of society) are tied directly to illegal immigration.  Which is in and of itself a crime. It's not difficult logic: an illegal immigrant commits a crime by crossing the border illegally.  If we punish them for that crime, we can stop them from committing others.  I get it.

PRACTICALLY, however, this is not an easy situation.  How do you accomplish the goal of removing criminals from society without inconveniencing the law-abiding citizenry?  That's difficult enough when you talk about mundane theft or vehicular violations, which are overt acts.  How do you find the people who are committing a crime just by being in the wrong place without asking everyone whether or not they are allowed?  We aren't born with color-coded wristbands. Until we can find an easy solution, the debate continues.  I would just like it to be more focused, reasoned, and objective.  Without objective and reasoned debate, practical, acceptable solutions can not be found.

Think people, don't just form an opinion by osmosis.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:00 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

May 12, 2010

A Blast from the Past

Found this on the old computer tonight, and I'm posting this for Ben.

It was taken while speeding down the 99 in Pixley,CA in August of 2003 (I was both the passenger and the photog. No worries.).  Sadly, some time soon after this the family sold the property and the entertaining signs were taken down.  Previous signs included the gems "The US or the UN, whose country is it?" and my all time favorite, "Pigs and Judges Ain't Bullitproof" (sic)

Hope this gave you a chuckle, dude!

Posted by caltechgirl at 08:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 07, 2010

At the Crossroads

As some of you know I am at a decision point in my life.

My current job has gone to hell in a handbasket in more ways than I can count and all I can do right now is try to keep my own head above water and not get fired.  The administration is making what seem to be arbitrary decisions and striking out at vulnerable faculty and programs in the name of doing business better,  but the evidence (and I'll admit I am a bit biased) seems to point out the fact these decisions have been at best short-sighted, and at worst, disastrous.  Day by day it becomes clear that I can not count on having a job much longer, through no fault of my own.

So I have been looking around.

I July I applied for a local job, similar to what I am doing now, teaching the same kinds of classes, working with small groups of students, and being able to have a place where I can keep a small lab and give undergrads a chance to have some lab experience.  As a bonus, it would be a short "reverse" commute.  I didn't hear back right away, and I figured they didn't want me.  We'll call this Job #1.  They did eventually call me for a phone interview 'round about October 1, but I haven't heard from them since.

In August, I applied for another job, this one at a major research university in a VERY SMALL TOWN in another state.  Job #2 is a unique position, non-tenure track, but only because it focuses on teaching and student advising, rather than research.  I think it would be a great opportunity to use the skills and experiences that I have developed over the past 15 years to give students useful help as they navigate their college experience.  So I applied, despite the great potential for upheaval in my life.

Job #2 called me a week after the position solicitation closed and invited me to come for an interview.  Which I evidently nailed, because I am sitting in a hotel room in that same small town today.  Two weeks after my initial interview, they offered me the position, and after some back and forth, they invited BOTH of us up here for a weekend look-see.  We've been here since Friday afternoon, bumming around.  We've visited the campus, toured all of the neighborhoods, found the Co-Op in the next town over and even drove an hour out to the Costco.  Which we totally found by accident, although we were looking for it.

When I was here initially, they asked a realtor to drive me around town, and so I asked her to show us inside a few houses, so we could a real sense of what a house we would WANT to live in would cost, and how we would have to work it.  Because see, if we move here, we would have to rent out our house.  There's no way we could sell it, the market in LA being what it is, and so we needed to know what the numbers would be, and if we could afford to buy a house here, since rent and mortgage payments here are about the same.  Might as well get the benefit of the equity.  Not to mention that I'm not uprooting my life to live in a shack somewhere else when I have a house I love.

So we talked.  And gave her our list of needs, wants, and likes.  And of course, dammit, the first house we walked into we fell in love with.  It's quirky and has a huge yard and more storage space than we can fill right now, and of course, it would be long gone by the time we would be ready to move, should I decide to take the job.

And I stepped out on to the deck, and I saw my dogs running on the lawn, and a swingset and plenty of room for a garden, and all of the things  I would want in my life.  And I felt like I could be happy here.  Snow, small town and all.

It's a million years away from my life. But then again, there are so many things I want to change about my life.  I want to have time to focus on ME.  On getting me healthy again.  On my marriage, which is good, but won't stay that way if I just let it go.  On my puppies.  They need Mommy back.  I want to be able to go walking and work out and be able to cook dinner everynight without being bone-weary from a day from hell followed by a commute from hell.  I want to open my computer at night and not have to worry about discovering yet another pissing contest that I have to mop up.

And let's face it, I ain't getting any younger.... tick tick tick....

My biggest concerns are my husband and my family.  Who knows whether he can even FIND a job here?  There are fewer opportunities, even though most districts look for a science teacher more often than other disciplines.  And our families will be nearly impossible to reach, now.  Disappointing after reaching a detente with my inlaws and beginning to build a relationship with my nieces and nephew now that they're older. And of course my Mom and Dad aren't getting any younger, though they are both in reasonably good health now.

So many things are really positive: There's a heated, indoor therapy pool (!!!!) and an Arby's and a Wendy's and a DQ (none of which I have now).  Super Walmart just opened, and it is nicer than our current Target (at least this week) and you can even find a parking place.

Side item: the house we love faces the Walmart directly, though it is a few blocks away, and because both are on hills, you can see the Walmart from the kitchen window and vice versa.  Amusing as hell.

Traffic is a joke, though some people clearly don't know how to drive, and I shudder to think what most of these people would do with an LA freeway.

I am conflicted and I don't know what to do.  It's hard. Can I give up what has become comfortable and close to home for something entirely different, though not altogether bad? 

Alright y'all, weigh in.  I want to hear your thoughts....

Posted by caltechgirl at 05:14 PM | Comments (34) | TrackBack