Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It May Be Time... join the 21st century. First there was the Android phone. Then there were the relentless requests for me to join Facebook. Friends have actually begun withholding photos of their offspring. "You can see them on Facebook." Okay. I'll just imagine your kid's first tutu. Mmmmm, pretty.

But it might be Twitter that finally does it. I was prepared to admit it had its uses (calling out bad customer service, shaming corporations that make stupid mistakes) but until I started reading Roger Ebert's twitter feed, I really didn't think it had the power to entertain me. Now I find myself coming back for more, not just for the 150-character insights ("Women tweet about feelings. Men tweet about stuff. I have stuff, so I tend to follow women. Women tweeters startle me more.") but for the great recommendations. I came to I Watch TV Shows for "If poor decision-making had a theme song, it would be that sound pants make when your thighs rub together." and stayed for "Sunday Movie Recommendation: Broadcast News (1987) -- The best romantic comedy I've ever seen. At least of the ones that mention date rape."

So I guess I'll have to try harder to get with the program. Can I still tell kids to get off my lawn? Oh, crap. OK, I have to try harder to get with the program, and then I have to get a lawn....

and then I'll go to my twelve-step program for giving up ellispes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Good News, Bad News

The good news is, Marc Blucas is in a new movie with Cameron Diaz!

The bad news is, it's the new Tom Cruise movie.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Passed!

I'm officially ITIL certified, and can now sleep the sleep of the just, or at least of the just-certified.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just Another Reason to Be Sad I'm Not British

According to United Press International, I would be able to get the best of those frat boys if I were a British redhead, instead of a mere American reddish-brunette. What with the studying I've been doing this weekend, I haven't had much time to undo the havoc they've wreaked in my apartment. Maybe next week...

Tetris Reduces Trauma

I'll be sure to remember this if I fail my exam.


You know that mood that comes over you when you've studied so much that you're actively starting to lose clarity and you know you should just go to bed? I'm there. A beer and an episode of Doc Martin (I'm a sucker for Martin Clunes and Stephanie Cole) and I'm off to bed. Wish me luck not only on passing the test but on getting up and out of the house at the hellishly early time I'll need to leave to get to the testing center in time for my appointment.

Brain not working. Beer good.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Linux love, and Thunar

Gotta love it. I was doing some more mp3 ripping tonight - from some books on tape so I can put it on my mp3 player for a run tomorrow. Using LB2TR because it is SO much faster and easier for ripping than Windows Media Player. But then a snag! When I transferred my files over to my Windows box to put onto my mp3 player (no, don't ask why I did it that way, just don't ask) the file names were not Windows compatible. They contained a colon! How dare they! Turns out linux is cool with that, but windows freaks about it. So I had about 300 file names that I was supposed to rename to make them compatible with win-blows. A daunting task to do one by one. UNLESS, you're a super cool linux terminal user and can rename the files just fine with, I'm not kidding, one line of code. Turns out I'm not him though. I know it can be done, just can't figure it out this late at night. UNLESS UNLESS, you're not one of those guys but you do a google search and then you download Thunar from the terminal. Thunar is a way cool file manager that is incredibly useful for batch renaming. In 4 keystrokes I could rename all the files in the directory into highly sortable, numbered, short, and non-windows freaking names. This is not a rocket science program, at all, but it's the kind of useful, freely available, powerful tool that linux is just supposed to be all about. And you know what? It is all about it! Problem solved. And now I'm off to bed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Scary statistics

Ok, so I got a wild hair up my butt and ordered a book on Generalized Additive Modeling. I'm not quite sure how to explain what that is - it's a way of using non-normally distributed predictors to predict non-normally distributed dependent variables using smoothing functions for predictors and exponentially derived distributions for dependent variables, I think. The fact that I don't know how to explain it is why I ordered the book. Oh, it also discussed doing the GAMs with R (remember R?) But I made a mistake. It's a real stats book. And real stats, written for people who know real math, are scary. They have weird symbols that they are sure you know. They use 1 formula to express what took a chapter in your intro stat class, and a chapter to cover a semester of intermediate stat. They make you feel like a doof.

So here I am, a doof, trying to decipher this stuff enough to be able to understand it, read it in articles, and maybe even use it. Wish me luck, or a brain like my sister the math whiz. I could use that too.

Paul again says it right

Krugman has an interesting column here discussing the failure of the Republican party. It quite mirrors something I've been thinking about for a few weeks. The Republicans are fond of saying they had no voice in the health care legislation that was passed, and in a way that's true. And it's also completely their fault. Consider a situation in which you get 4 people together and give them a job of planning a trip. The trip will be planned, that is a foregone conclusion. It's a necessary trip. And besides, you're just a little bit in charge, just enough to say that it will happen. None of the 4 people agree on the trip. Person A wants to go to California, B wants Florida, but C and D both not only don't want to go, they stand in the middle of the room with their hands over their ears screaming "I don't wanna go on a trip!" over and over and over. Eventually the trip takes place, and you go to Wisconsin, because it's a compromise between California and Florida. But Person C and D had no real say in where the trip was. If they had, perhaps you'd have ended up in Mexico, or Canada. But they had no say. Why? Because they refused to participate in the discussion. They seemed to feel that if they yelled loud enough, and long enough, you'd cancel the trip.

Now the trip (healthcare reform) happened because Dems had a majority in both house and senate and a Dem president. Republicans hated that. That makes sense - from their point of view they should hate it. But a representative, 2 party system of government is supposed to be a government of compromise. In situations like this, one party will get its way, but the other influences that. They have a voice in what comes out - they block what they really hate, enable what they can agree on, and generally have a voice, even if they don't get to pick if the trip happens or not. But that isn't what happened - Republicans screamed "No" over and over and the compromises took place between elements of the Democratic party (person A and B in our example) rather than between Dems and Republicans. And that is truly too bad. Because, as Krugman points out, the country needs two opposed, rational parties working together - disagreeing and compromising, to work best. And one of those parties has utterly failed its end of the deal. This was probably a way to try to set up the president and the Dems for the next elections ("We fought them all the way and it's all their fault!") but that just makes the failure all the more cynical.

It doesn't bother, or surprise me, at all that Republicans opposed Democratic ideas for health care reform. It bothers me that they refused to contribute anything at all to reform.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What a Blog is NOT For

A blog is not, under any circumstances, for making fun of your colleague, who despite being incredibly smart, talented, and polished, thinks analysize is a word. Especially not if you're jealous of her for being fit and probably a size 4.

Hee hee. Analysize.

OK, look, it's here as a public service, because if I do not put it here, I will TOTALLY use it in front of her at work. And that would not be good for anyone. She would be embarrassed. And I would be doomed. Because I'm relentlessly stupid at work and I would definitely not survive if people started making fun of me. I get by there because people think I'm too nice to make fun of.

What? I am nice! Mostly....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gotta Love JP

I'm not much on blogging politics, but when I see a passage like this I can't help but pass it along:
It's like a gold-medal performance in wrongness. It's like automotive engineers built a supersonic Wrong machine, filled its fuel tank with high-octane Liquid Wrong, hauled it out to the Bonneville Salt Flats, and attempted to set the world record in wrong.
I haven't the heart to watch the clip, but if that's your bag the whole blog entry about Chris Matthews' gold medal effort in wrongness is here. And if it's not your bag, hey, you could still use the phrase "high-octane Liquid Wrong" at work, I'm sure.

Damn You, Marian Keyes

What time do you call this then? 3:00 in the morning, that's what time it is.

Nora, your countrywomen are a heartless lot, make no mistake.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Bone to Pick With The Big Bang Theory

I think that audience would be able to sing along with the Tom Lehrer classic "The Elements."

Consult Your Physician Before Breathing

From the side of a package of Yogi Bedtime Tea:
Easy Yoga Breathing for a Restful Sleep: Before bed, a great way to relax is to practice long, slow, deep breathing.  Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.  Rest your hands in your lap with palms facing up.  Close your eyes and completely relax.  Breathe through the nose slowly and deeply.  Stay focused on your breath as it fills your lungs, expanding the diaphragm.  Exhale and empty the lungs completely.  Continue for 1-5 minutes.  Then lie down on your right side and enjoy a deep and restful sleep.   Before doing this exercise or participating in any exercise program, consult your physician.
Yes, by all means, be sure to consult your physician before breathing.
Taking 5 minutes to do some deep breathing exercise seems harmless enough.  I'm sure Yogi Tea has some lawyer going over all their packaging and his or her whole job is to proactively seek and destroy any potential avenue for litigation, and that there is some financial analysis out there painstakingly detailing the benefit of putting a wackadoo warning on every package of tea versus the cost of being engaged in a lawsuit which, even if the company is sued unsuccessfully and found innocent of any wrongdoing, exposes the company to potentially disastrous PR.
I would be all for this warning if it said, for example, "before taking medical advice from the side of a package of tea, be sure to go to your doctor forthwith to have your head examined."  The tea is a sleep remedy.  It contains valerian and chamomile, which I think are pretty innocuous, and St. John's Wort, which I think I remember reading could inhibit the absorbtion of other medicines.  I don't recall where I read it, and I wouldn't know if it's true, but if you knew you might be less likely to knock back those medications with your evening dose of sleep remedy tea.  Regardless, if you're on other medications and you're self-medicating for sleep loss, I would think that would be an excellent time to consult your physician.  (Not that I have--since I've stopped filling all of my medication prescriptions because I've been too tired to stop at the pharmacy for the last month or so, it doesn't really seem relevant.  But it seems like a good idea in theory.)  I'm fairly certain that if you put these same ingredients in a pill there would be some warning about how they aren't regulated by the FDA and you take your life into your hands to try them at all, but in a tea, no, the warning goes next to the breathing instructions.
It's not that I have anything against Yogi tea--I like it and I drink it and I will continue to buy it.  I'm squarely in its target demographic (mmm, paisley chamomile) and will probably remain so.  It's just that the absurdity of FDA regulations and lawsuit-avoidance sometimes whacks me upside the head in a manner that I find unrelaxing.  Fortunately I take enough unregulated sleep aids that I can pretty much sleep through anything.  Sometimes for several days.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Really, really old school

It's possible that I've mentioned my fondness for old computer games. Once or twice. A day. Well, I'm really going all out now. My current pseudo-obsession is a very old, old classic called Might and Magic I. M&M1, (which was the first in a series of no less than 8 games, by the way), was a Wizardry style, party based, RPG. I suppose the graphics were a step up from Wizardry (which was the grand daddy of this type of RPG) but a huge leap backwards from, say, Bard's Tale (same genre, similar time frame). I have no idea why I started playing it but I picked it up from (Bless them - that site rocks) and I'm surprised to find how much I'm enjoying it. The graphics are truly laughable, the sound is PC Speaker based (meaning it's, well, just awful. If you remember sound on PC's before Soundblaster you know what I'm saying), and it's long and difficult to boot. And I'm loving it. I even got to sector edit the save game to max out some stats so I didn't get killed every 10 minutes. Ah, the nostalgia. This thing came out in 1987 and it's how I spent chunks of my high school life. I, uhm, didn't get a lot of dates back then (had you guessed?) So, if you're bored, geeked out, and old school head to GOG and pick it up. Otherwise I will return you to your regularly scheduled Saturday afternoon activities.

3 hours of Harry Potter

Today I did a 20 mile run. Woo hoo! I'm very happy bout this folks. Because, well, I'm training for a marathon in early May, and I was supposed to do 15 last weekend, and I went out, felt really tired, and only limped along for 10. Normally no big deal, but when you're on a schedule, cause you're training for a marathon, it matters! If I have to start at 10 to work my way up to 20, how am I ever going to get in my 4-6 20 mile runs by early May? That was my concern anyway. So this morning I loaded up my MP3 player with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban (read by Fry, I believe), grabbed a jacket and a hat (18 degrees with windchill today), and off to the lake I went. Harry Potter did me just right - kept me focused on something other than the lotta miles I was trying for, and wasn't so stimulating or exciting that I was speeding up. It was, over all, a very pleasant 3 hours and 6 minutes. Still slow, but hey, I got it in and that's what counts.

Next step, for me, is to buy new shoes. These have about 1,000 miles on them and my foot is killing me. I am finding that you can get away with worn out shoes, or ill fitting shoes, or whatever, quite a bit as long as you're not doing 3 hours of running. That's when they start to matter. Ouch.

So, JK Rowling, in addition to entertaining my daughter for the past 2 years, and my wife and I for many more, now I owe you for a good run. On the other hand, you're so freaking rich by now I feel you are also being well rewarded for your work. I'll send you a happy thought for a good day as you live in your castle (sheesh). I'm not jealous, nope, not me.

A freaking castle, though.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Old Interview with Justin Sullivan

I came across this today online when I was looking for something else. It's elderly, truly, but I enjoyed it:

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm so proud...

I'm very excited about Grinnell's new choice for President.  He sounds like a standup guy, and I'm glad the college stands by its values.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Layoffs are coming at my company. It's not exactly unusual right now--I'm pretty sure that if you asked people at most companies these days they'd be reluctant to say, "I'm absolutely sure nobody at my company is going to lose their job."

A bunch of us stayed behind and talked about it tonight. I'm not sure why. There's nothing we can do. But the waiting is getting to us, and it felt good to stop pretending we're not freaked out for a few minutes.

I have an awesome boss, and he and his peers are all trying real hard to keep our spirits up. It works for exactly as long as they're trying and then they go to a meeting or something and we all just deflate like fallen souffles. It's devastating.

Honestly, there's nothing else to say. Just waiting.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Harry Markopolos Is Back, and He's Pissed Off

Markopolos is out and about promoting his new book, No One Would Listen--my copy is in the mail and I can't wait to read it. I wrote about Markopolos before, and I confess I really, really hoped that someone would make a Quiz-Show-style film about his story. It sounds like that's a possibility. Everyone is contacting Markopolos about a film, including our nation's historian--no, not Ken Burns, the other one, that Hanks boy. Good on Harry.

The Good News: Felicia Day Is Coming to SyFy

The bad news? You have to wait until 2011.

Still, in the meantime, Seasons 1 & 2 of The Guild are available for instant viewing if you have that option on Netflix.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Am I The Last Person to Discover

I had a horrible day today. Yeah, I know, "Dear Diary, I had a horrible day." Maybe someone will get a chuckle out of this.

People yelled at me for trying to make their lives better, which is just never, ever, ever my favorite thing. This eventually turned out to be positive because a) the yelling people didn't make me cry (that's happened before, so now I count it as a personal victory when it doesn't happen), and b) eventually they took it back and realized that I was trying to help them and some of them thanked me. Which is nice. It's nice to be appreciated, but I'm not a fan of the yelling. If we could skip that bit next time and go straight to the appreciation segment of our show, that'd suit me down to the ground.

My job is about making people's jobs better. I don't help people in a big way. Not in that "look, here's a house and a giant check to pay for your chemotherapy" way. I make people's jobs better in very small and insignificant ways. My whole job is about finding shit that's broken and fixing it. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? It kind of sounds like you'd put yourself out of a job, huh? Trust me when I tell you that the average modern corporation is like a giant perpetual motion machine endlessly fucking up its people and processes. It sounds bad when you say it like that (and there is a case to be made for the badness, don't get me wrong). But there is a price to pay for positive change and often that price is frustration and disorganization that borders on absolute mayhem, and at the nexus of positive change, frustration, and mayhem, there sits my job of fixing broken things.

The broken thing can be a computer program or a business process or a stupid, horrible person. Most of the time it's some ungodly combination of the three. And it's my job to tease the whole mess apart a little at a time, find all the pieces that aren't working, figure out how they should work, triage them, stop the bleeding, fix the things that are stopping vital shit from getting from a to b, and then, finally, if nobody's bleeding any more and shit is hobbling from one place to another at a fairly reasonable pace, I get to try to convince people to optimize their processes so that other people in their workplace don't want to kill them.

I accept hostility on the part of the people who need improvement. A former boss of mine used to call them Button-Pushing Trolls, and bless that man, there is no better explanation. Indeed, the people in question today do EXACTLY that. They press a button and refuse to do anything else. I wish I were exaggerating or making it up, but I'm not. It's an icon on a screen, not an actual tactile button, but other than that, they really, truly, seriously think that if they click that icon on their screen their work here is done. And I think they'd kind of like a cape and a power ring to wear while they do it. If clicking the icon doesn't fix your problem they give you this sympathetic, vacant stare and then look vaguely off into the middle distance, as if suggesting that you should go there now so that they can return to...grooming each other or whatever it is that Button-Pushing Trolls do when no one is looking. Probably watching YouTube videos.

I expect hostility from the trolls, but in this case it was the department the trolls were screwing over that did all the yelling. It's truly disturbing to work for an organization that is so fundamentally disorganized that it can't tell when it's getting help. It's like trying to help a bear in a trap. You should really tranquilize the bear before removing the trap--I admit that I did forget that step. But still, when the bear whacks you upside the head while you're trying to pry the trap off its foot, you do kind of want to smack it back and go, "Dumbass, I'm trying to help you, here."

Eventually I think we got the trap off the bear--at least the bear-trap removal process was set in motion and I think the Button-Pushing Trolls will eventually learn to do their jobs. It was a happy ending but nonetheless, a fairly draining day at the office. I came home and the whole world seemed populated by button-pushing trolls, and just as I was thinking that I should cut my losses and go to bed, I came upon this hilarious post about Japan on It's funny, thoughtful, and informative, and it totally redeemed my day.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Tax blues

Well, I was going to buy a new TV. It was going to be beautiful. 40 inches of 1080p, 120mhz referss, 80K contrast awesomeness. And it was going to have blu ray. All the crap I said I didn't need (and don't), I was going to have anyway.

Then I did my taxes.

Whoops. I owe about 2 TV's worth this year. #$@!

For me taxes are double trouble. First, because I now make enough, and plan poorly enough, that instead of getting HUGE refunds, which I did for most of my life, I now owe moderate amounts of money. So what used to be a fun time of year is now a time of pain. I feel so grown up. Second, because while I'm trying to be stoic about paying a moderate but significant amount of money, reminding myself that you have to pay in to enjoy the benefits of a society, and there are obviously so many benefits to living in this society (and I'm not being facetious - there are undeniably many benefits to being part of American society. You can argue about whether we as a nation deserve them and so on, but I think it's hard to argue that they're not there), while I'm doing that, I've got someone else in the house with a, shall we say, different view on taxes who has a quite different reaction going on. Which is of course entirely justified, but her reaction makes my own efforts at a calm reaction somewhat harder, if you see what I mean.

All of which makes for an unfun evening. And a lack of a new TV. So there you have it.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The slump

From time to time I've whined about slumps in running. I've whined because they suck, and because they still suck, I'll whine a bit more. Well, not actually whining this time, more just noting. The frustrating things about slumps is it's hard to tell what brings them on. Some months I'm just running really well, putting in good times on lots of miles, and feeling on top of the world. Last year around this time was like that. I was doing 20 mile runs at a sub 9 pace and loving it. This year everything is a struggle. I just did a 15 at a 9:30 pace. It didn't hurt all that bad, but that was because I didn't push it to try to do anything like a 9:00 pace, I just took it easy. It's been like that for the last month or so - long runs, short runs, I'm not as fast and I don't have the endurance to keep up a quick pace. If I go out at an 8:00 or a 7:45 I can only do a mile or two then I'm actually walking to recover, and I never walk. By way of comparison, at my best I should be able to do 15 miles at around an 8:30 pace. Hell, I've done 26 mile runs at a sub 9:00 pace.

So this is frustrating, but I'm trying to take a different view of it. The way I got to where I could do those (for me) faster paces was by doing these slower paces again and again until my endurance increased. I didn't do it by killing myself - I just kept the miles up until my endurance increased and an 8:00 pace didn't feel amazingly fast. It felt like work, but not like a sprint. So I figure this is my time to do these slower paces, keep the miles up, and wait for my body to rebuild its endurance and then see where I'm at. Heck, this is all a hobby anyway. In the scheme of things, if I'm a 9:00 pace marathon runner or an 11:00 pace marathon runner the only difference is the amount of goodies left at the finish line when I cross. When I think of it this way, I still enjoy the running, which is the point. When I think of how frustrated I am and how I should be faster, or am not upping my speed, I end up pushing too hard, feeling like crap, and not having any fun. So screw it - I'll take the fun option.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Katy =/= A Bunch of Frat Boys

I've been having a rough time so far this year. This year has involved a lot of phoning around and finding doctors and duking it out with insurance companies and then finding other doctors that the insurance companies like better only to find that I don't like the doctors that the insurance companies prefer...

I'm not good at dealing with this stuff. It makes me cranky and depressed. Which is where the frat boys come in.

When I'm cranky and depressed, I become haunted by an extremely dissipated college fraternity. They sneak into my house while I'm not looking and carry on in the most disrespectful fashion you can imagine. They throw all the clothes I don't want to wear on the floor of my closet. Anything that I would imagine wearing ends up on my bed or liberally strewn around my bedroom floor. They take out every book I've ever read and appear to play some kind of drinking game that involves hurling the books at random at my nightstand, so that an enormous pile of books rests on its surface in an undignified, higgledy-piggledy mess. The books cascade into the open nightstand drawers as though trying to escape.

I don't even want to tell you what they do in the kitchen. They leave spoiled food in my refrigerator. They spill tea and coffee on my countertops and don't clean it up. They leave huge piles of dishes in the sink and pizza boxes everywhere. They make vast quantities of popcorn and gorge themselves in the living room, until every large bowl in the house contains a thin layer of salt and a few popcorn hulls.

They pick up my mail and sort it into piles that don't make any sense, and then leave the piles wherever they're standing and go and make more piles of mail in a different part of the house. Since most of the flat surfaces in the home are covered with dirty dishes or glassware, the mail is usually on the floor.

Needless to say they don't often clean the shower or the sinks, and the only thing in the house they haven't moved when I wasn't looking is the vacuum cleaner. Occasionally I get up the energy to clear a surface or do a load of dishes or laundry, but not often enough to combat the swirling entropy that has conquered my home.

I have made great strides this day in overcoming their obscene attempts to force me to live in squalor. As I write every dish in the house is either clean or in the running dishwasher. The refrigerator contains only food and drink that is fit for human consumption. Most of the laundry is done. Most of the clothes are hung up and put away. The shower is clean. I have even restored the stove to its former glory (someone allowed rice milk to boil over on the gas stove--it looked like something out of How Clean Is Your House).

I'm really hoping that they'll have pity on me and keep their cavorting to a minimum from now on. I'd evict them, but I'm too embarrassed to have the police come by and look at the damage.

Go, Team Abe!

Friday, March 05, 2010

A Note To English-Speaking Humans

Michael, I love snark, but I'm considering revoking your license!

Dissemble = lie
Disassemble = to take apart

If anyone can dissemble an outfit, it is surely Michael Kors, but I'm disappointed in him. Michael, you're not allowed to invent any more words or cute phrases until you can use the ones you've already got properly.

Everyone on earth who writes in English, let's get these three separate:

Reign = what a monarch does
Reins = those things that steer horses
Rain = that wet stuff that falls from the sky

You rein someone in. You embark on a reign of terror. You get caught in a rainstorm. Closed captioners, this one's dedicated to you.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

It's Time to Go Home

when you see a book on your boss's bookshelf that says, "Unix for the Impatient" and you misread it as "Unix for the Inpatient." Not only that, but your brain helpfully provides an image of someone in a hospital bed, dressed in a backless hospital gown and trying to learn Unix.

Sleep. Sleep is good.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Proper After-Workout Drink

I feel fairly certain this is not the right thing to drink after a workout, but after an hour on the treadmill(and after several glasses of water), I've been making myself a steamed milk with St. Elizabeth's Dram, a spicy rum. It ain't Gatorade, but it sure feels good.

A bit more on books on tape

I just finished listening to Good Omens on CD (so I guess Books on CD, not on tape, but I'm old). I have to say I just loved the experience. First, if you have not read Good Omens, and you are reading this blog, ask yourself one question. Why are you reading this blog? Why aren't you instead reading one of the funniest, cleverest books of the 1990s instead? Why are you depriving yourself? Go, just go and read it, and then come back. We'll wait. Really.

Welcome back (unless you didn't have to go, in which case welcome, uhm, welcome). So with this book in my cd player in my car, I look forward to driving to and from work. I literally hope it might take me just a few minutes longer to get to work. That says a bit about work as well, but it also says that it's just that much fun to listen to. I have also found, to my chagrin, that Good Omens is better when read than when I read it. Why is that? Because I have a very bad habit of speed reading, especially when re-reading a book, and so I miss subtle nuance or see it but don't attend to it. The last chapter of Good Omens had some just lovely imagery that I never really appreciated until I heard it read to me. A book written by Gaiman is likely to have prose like that, that you have to attend to carefully for full effect, which makes Good Omens a great idea on CD. The drawback continues to be that the narrators, however good they are, never sound like the characters are supposed to sound like, according to my imagination (which is absolutely authoritative in my inner world, damnit). But I'm willing to overlook that to avoid stressing out while I drive, and to get to enjoy a good book while commuting.

So, long post short (too late): Books on Cd - I Like.

There is one caveat though. I once had the experience of listening to the first 2 pages of a Dan Brown novel (think it was the big one - Davinci code). What that showed me is that bad dialog, when read out loud, sounds like REALLY bad dialog. I do not recommend a Dan Brown novel on CD. I did enjoy the 2 of his books I read, but the dialog was just godawful, and I didn't really realize it until someone read it aloud. Now I'll never be able to read them again without realizing just how bad it is. Dan Brown is now lost to me. Ye be warned!

Oh, that is also a great reason why no Shifter posts should ever be read aloud. Ye be doubly warned.

Linux ripping

Well, nothing much to add at the moment, except that I'm being all bold and adventurous (not) and using LB2TR to rip some MP3's from CD. You have to install an extra package to do it, because the MP3 format is not, itself, open source and so is considered 1) counter to the philosophy of Linux and 2) can't be installed automatically I believe without a fee (I'm not as sure of #2). But you can install the codec and then you're good to go. I'm happy to report that the ripping, a la Sound Juicer, is very fast and efficient - more rapid than the comparable operation using Windows Media Player (gosh, there's a shock).

I'm kind of using LB2TR as intended, in that I do use it for music and when I can do it easily I'm using it for other routine operations to continue to get the hang of it. What I am NOT doing is learning the terminal commands and language, which is the heart of Linux, nor am I learning R as I had planned. This is typical of me - I take my new ideas about half way and then get busy with something else. But I'm still plugging, slowly, on this one so I'll see how far I can get it.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Magic Is Back

The gal who sits next to me is back from vacation.  I missed her while she was gone.  Partly because she is the guru for a substantial part of our accounting solution, and in her absence there were many, many questions that were answered with an awkward silence.  Partly because we go for coffee every morning.  Partly because she reminds me to eat lunch, which I frequently forget to do.  (I forget until about 4 p.m.)  But mostly because I smile about 1000% more often when she's here, and my abs get a workout from laughing so hard.  She is a quote machine (every movie from about 1940 to 2009 is in this massive quote database in her head, as well as the collected works of Eddie Izzard and Lewis Black).  Nobel laureates dream of someday excelling at something the way she excels at sarcasm.  She's funny and entertaining like a Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn movie. 
She talks to herself ALL DAY.  It would bother some people.  I really missed it while she was gone.