Tuesday, October 30, 2007

earthquake...where I no longer live

I only experienced a few minor quakes when I lived in California. Today, a 5.6 hit pretty damn near where my condo is still standing. I'm sure there wasn't any damage. I'm just glad I wasn't there. Earthquakes freak me out.

I like forces of natures that I can see coming at me, like blizzards/hurricanes/tornadoes, and thus take action to avoid (because I am privileged, yes). Not earthquakes. Those things just...happen. Without warning. Not cool.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

dear kathyr: those wee little bears were so CUTE!

KathyR, it was ever so nice of your team to come up and visit with our team.


[I have to take a moment to say that as someone born and bred a football fan, in Happy Valley PA no less, it was really disconcerting/embarrassing to have a foreigner taunt me for not yet knowing the appropriate cheers. Have no fear, German girl! I will know them for the Stanford game.]

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so, back when I used to write for Wired...

Ok, so I didn't write for Wired the magazine, I wrote for Webmonkey. But the checks said "Wired" and then "Lycos" so I think it counts.


I was doing a vanity search in Google Books and came across a reference to myself in The Flash Usability Guide (2002). The reference was to a commentary I wrote in 2001, called "Tipping Jakob's Ladder". [The tagline at the top of the commentary is only partially correct, of course, since it's six-plus years old.]

I don't take credit for the title. I had a really, really awesome editor (Evany Thomas). I mean really great.

So yeah. I woke up one day, thought "Jakob Nielsen is really ticking me off," and wrote this thing. Re-reading it now, I don't really disagree with myself. Not much has changed in the six-plus years since I wrote it. In fact, you could just swap out some things like "Flash" with "widgets" and I think the commentary still holds.

So there you go. Insight into my former life. Stuff I can't use on an academic CV. Oh well. Life's hard.

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update on the new kitty

Let's face it: talking about Mini the new kitty in the house is way more interesting than me blathering on about how my program is teh awesome and my friends here are supercool (but it is and they are).

So. Mini likes it here. She spends equal time in her space, our space, and group space; she spends the bulk of her time on top of a box in the bedroom closet (the door is open and there's a little towel/cushion sort of thing on top of the box, so it's not like she's hiding out -- it's a cool place to be), but when I walk in the bedroom she jumps up on the bed and we have pet-and-comb-the-longhair-cat time. She loves to sit on pillows. Who wouldn't? She also wanders out into the living room and hangs out with the rest of us in the evening. Max will sit on the couch, Deuce on the chair, and Mini on the table between the two.

The three of them still don't play together, but it's cool. They spent some time bonding together this morning, when I ran the vacuum and they all scurried away into the bathroom.

Her favorite toy is a catnip-filled stuffed carrot. It used to be Deuce's favorite, so hopefully they'll bond over their mutual love of the carrot. If not, no worries. Everyone is happy.


Friday, October 26, 2007


It is now a balmy 24 degrees at 8:58AM in Eastern Washington.

I dig the cold, because I can wear layers and coats (both things I love) and not be really hot (I'm like a little space heater, I am). But this is a little chilly.

Thirteen years in California has made me a wuss! I think I might run over to the mall and get myself a pair of gloves. Brrr.

I guess I should start thinking about how to winterize my precious Mazda. Hmm.


Monday, October 22, 2007

mini (new cat)

MiniThis is Mini. She is 8 years old. She lives in my house now. As you can see, she is fluffy! She is very pretty from all sides, but this is the only shot I could get of her in which she was sitting still.

Mini had a buddy who died over the summer, and she has been very lonely since then. Her mom is my school chum, J2. [I am J1, even though J2 says that when we write brilliant essays and books together (like Gilbert and Gubar) her name will be first because of the damn alphabet. whatev.] J2 decided it would be best for Mini to be around other cats as well as a human who is actually at home. So far so good.

My cats are cool with her. They just want to know when she'll stop being wary of them, so they can play! But no issues have arisen; Mini hangs out on a box in the closet, on the bathroom countertop, and in the bathtub. She wanders around the whole house, and enjoys Kitty TV during the day. She eats her food and does her business in her litter box. No worries at all, and her mom can come visit anytime!


Friday, October 19, 2007

cake fixes most everything

There are few things in my life that can't be fixed with a little cake.

Yesterday was a pretty crappy day for me, and it had nothing at all to do with anyone or anything here in Washington. It was all California-related stuff: work, house, a little bank fraud thrown in for good measure. In other words, stuff I really can't do a damn thing about. For a control freak like me, that's hard to deal with. It shuts down my brain. Can't get past it. [At least I'm not trying to take my PhD exams right now, like two dear friends of mine are at this very moment (hi!). Actually, they're doing just fine, and are just about halfway through them. A superlative-laden post about them will come at a later date...I'm still composing it. ]

But back to cake. Today is a cake-loquium. That is, today is the department's grad student org-sponsored colloquium at which time there will be cake. I am in charge of cake today, because I love to bake and I like to be useful.

You want to know who is really useful? Shuna Fish Lydon, that's who. I am so grateful that she puts her recipes online. In January, you may recall that my friends and I ate a ton of food and all of her desserts at Aziza. I've made her cardamon chocolate chunk cookies. She is now part of the brand-spanking-new restaurant, Sens, in the Embarcadero Center in SF, about which she has written lovingly since its inception. I am seriously considering a weekend trip back to the Bay Area in a few weeks, and her desserts will feature prominently in my plans if the trip indeed happens.

But she does not live in my house, or in Eastern Washington, or anywhere closer than sixteen hours away. Thus, I am left to my own devices when it comes time to make cake. And cake I did make: Shuna's yellow cake (which prompted a text message from me to my friend that said something like "holy crap this is the best cake batter I have ever tasted," which is true), devil's food cake, and chocolate frosting.

Shuna, thank you for sharing your recipes. I will bet that this afternoon there will be 40 or 50 people who would also like to thank you for sharing them. I'm not you, of course, but I don't think I did a terribly shabby job with it all. It sure does taste good to me...

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Monday, October 15, 2007

seminars: two thumbs up!

I am taking three seminars this semester, and my feelings about them range from "can tolerate perfectly well" to "prof is a rockstar and I'd like to hear more from her" to "I'm very much in love with this topic and it will be an exam area and I really can't get enough of it."

So that's good.

I find it hilarious (I'm a simple-minded person, remember) that on any given day in my comp theory/pedagogy class our prof will give us an assignment adapted from someone or another, or an article to read by someone or another, and I chuckle to myself and think something like "Yes, this is a lovely example of how to teach summary, and it sure is a bummer her team lost that game." Or, "Indeed, he is very wise, and I've long valued his posts on navigating the treacherous waters of academe."

I chuckle to myself a lot about these things. I'll continue to do so on a weekly basis next semester, when I'm taking a seminar from someone who is a good friend of one of my favorite bloggers [you know who you are, bloggy buddy!].


meetings meetings meetings

When I originally made my list of posts to write about school things, "meetings meetings meetings" was at the top of the list—we have a lot of them. In fact, I have more meetings now than I did in years working with clients. Of course, most of that has to do with the fact that my boss knows how much I hate sitting in meetings and wasting time (inefficiency makes me angry), so she never made me go to any unless technical people were going to be there and she needed someone to parlez leur langue.

Anyway, we have a lot of meetings here. Or I do. Oddly, I'm not complaining. I have writing center workshops, comp instructor meetings, colloquia, grad student org meetings, meetings with profs, meeting with mentor/pals, and so on, and not a single one of them is a waste of time. One was, but the meeting was run by, shall we say, an HR-related department in the Uni. Those are never good.

So, I have a lot of meetings and they're oddly productive and (depending on who it is I'm meeting with) often intellectually stimulating and fun.

So strange. And good! But different.


Sunday, October 14, 2007


Kamiak Butte 10/07Although I was thwarted in my attempt yesterday, with one day remaining in the weekend I decided to try again. Apparently, we're in the "winter hours" time and so Kamiak Butte County Park is not open until 8am (instead of 7am). Now I know.

As you can see in this photo, it was a beautiful autumn morning. Contrast this with the first time I went there, when it was a beautiful summer morning, and you'll see that, well, it's just pretty all the time.

I didn't do the full 3.5 mile loop; I just did a quick trip up and back down, so only a mile. I was going to do the loop but when I was sitting at the top (thank you, providers-of-benches!) I thought of a bunch of scholarly stuff and wanted to get back home so I could get it all out on paper before I forgot. No, I didn't have a notebook. That would have been too easy.

Note to self: you always have good scholarly thoughts when you go out into nature. Bring a damn notebook!


Saturday, October 13, 2007


I had a plan to go out and hike Kamiak Butte this morning, then come back and do a few errands and settle into the weekend of work. But no. I was thwarted in my attempts to be outdoorsy.

The gate was closed. I even checked before I left the house for any park closures! Maybe they don't open the gate when it's foggy. That would be kind of lame, but the only thing I can think of. I am sad. Kind of screws up my planning. Could be a message from the universe not to plan so precisely. I can get behind that.

I might try to go in the afternoon instead.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

hello bloggy, my old friend

So I post this thing a week ago about making it over the hump and what happens? I drop off the face of the earth. Well, unless you're on Facebook, in which case you've probably kicked my ass in Scrabulous or thrown a farm animal at me. Or given me an egg that hatched into a kitten.

You know, that all sounds pretty messed up out of context. But it sure is fun.

Anyway, I will write more soon, dear bloggy. I really do have a list of things to write about. I owe my mentor some superlatives [she's a superstah].

I really freaking love it here.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

fall semester sigh of relief

I think I made it over the hump. I thought the meetings meetings meetings would kill me, but they have not. We are not quite to the halfway point, but I have a big weight off my shoulders and can focus (for the most part) on the two seminar papers due at the end of the semester. I'm already working on them. I would like to give a big shout-out to my assigned mentor (more on that later) for handing me a paper topic. All I did was hand her some bullet items for a couple PowerPoint slides on the American Gothic, and she hands me a paper topic. I definitely got the better end of that deal!

Anyway, last night was the joint presentation for my Cultural Theory and Visual Culture seminar. Cultural Theory and Visual Culture are totally not my strengths. I'm way out of my comfort zone in that class (but doing fine, thank you very much), I am not a huge fan of group work (personally, not pedagogically), and the prof is one of those rockstarish folks you really want to impress. Thus the stress.

But! The presentation was on Foucault (a fave), specifically Discipline and Punish (also a fave), the fellow I was presenting with did a great job with his part and we had zero issues with division of labor and so forth, and I got to talk about The Simpsons a lot. What's not to love?


Monday, October 1, 2007

meme-licious: current desktop shot

Seen at Kermit's place, Luckybuzz calls for snapshots of everyone's desktops. Here is my contribution:

current desktop shot
[click to embiggen]

It should not need an introduction, but: it is Tunnel View at Yosemite.

Linda took the photo when we were there in March. You can see the original in all its glory. I stood behind her when she took it, and this photo reminds me of standing there...because I did. And that's a lovely reminder.

I thought about switching to this photo, which I actually did take, but then I figured I'd be queasy all day...

[I did not unclutter my desktop. I rarely have stuff spread all over it. I prefer tidy folders!]