Thursday, July 31, 2003

Gobble, gobble.

I've amused myself tonight by reading reviews Gigli, because as the Mod Squad knows, I can never let a train wreck -- whether it be a fic accident or a movie or a weird brouhaha on some ML somewhere -- go by without rubber-necking. Just as bad fic is my secret vice, I'm always thrilled to see how the experts do things. Lines such as "And the dialogue - sweet, screaming Jehosephat, it's awful" from the Cinncinati Enquirer or this pithy paragraph We knew Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez could make bad movies separately, but “Gigli” demonstrates that, in a true example of synergy at work, their combined efforts can generate even more badness send my heart into my throat with the desire to pen acidity like that. And then, Bjorn kindly supplied The Onion's report on the movie's focus group and my amusement was complete.

My question is: who actually thought this movie would be any good? Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck in the same movie? Hmmm? I think it's perfect fodder for Mystery Science Theater myself. Apparently, the press was so bad, the two of them have vowed not to make any more movies together. Eh, reading all the reviews, not sure that acting was the problem, but hey, we should all be so lucky. The world really doesn't need so much Bennifer.
Right, so the blog temporarily disappeared and of course, it didn't tell me it was going away. So, just in case any of you were really, really anxious about the blog, it's back. You can all rest easily now.

I just finished rearranging lots of flowers. My fingers are all wrinkly. I really enjoy this, but these were excessive flowers, all left over from my party. I washed out all of the vases and then threw out the dead flowers and rearranged the new ones. It took almost an hour, between the washing of the vases, rearranging and then cleaning up the mess afterwards. Some of the purple flowers stained the kitchen counter, so it was almost a mission impossible to get the stain out. I'm in a cleaning mood, so as soon as my fingers return to normal, I'll probably tackle something else. It is not safe for dirt in this house!

I also got my hands on a copy of the fifth Harry Potter book. I've read the first 100 pages and so far, it's rather... slow. I hope it picks up soon! I've only got a few days to read it.

For those of you keeping track of my literati achievements, I'm on a losing streak -- I've lost, so far, 5 games in a row. I won a game last night -- but unfortunately the rating went to the person whose place I took on the gameboard. Must. Get. Back. In. The. Zone.
Testing, testing.
The weather hasn't been so bad this summer. July and August are traditionally Very Hot Months, but I think we hit 100 degrees once in May, and that was that. When I moved here five years ago, I used to be on a mad dash to finish all of my errands before noon. Now, I'm used to the heat and I go out whenever. Of course, I moved here the summer of hell, when the state was stricken with a serious drought. Two years ago, we had a bad summer -- something like 30+ days of 100+ temperatures. I feel for people who are currently simmering in a cauldron, but at the same time, I'm just glad, for once, we caught a break and the temperatures are hovering around 97 degrees as the high.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Cool new tool, Malinator, in the fight against spam.

I went shopping today to get new!hip clothes. I've been officially dubbed fuddy-duddy by various relatives, though I'd like to point out I've spent two years in academia and jeans and t-shirts are quite acceptable. However, it's time to get some new clothes in preparation for the new job. I hit the Gap, Banana Republic, Express and Target. I didn't find anything I'd like at the first three stores and found three tops at the second. Of course, I didn't buy anything because I wasn't sure if the tops I picked out were stylish enough. So, I have roped Sarah into helping me on Sunday afternoon. Of course, we both have that whole New England LL Bean look going and so I'm probably going to fall back into my khaki and polo shirt outfits.

My previous job was pretty formal so I hit Petite Sophisticate and Casual Corner a lot. Most of my co-workers shopped there too, so it was relatively safe and good bet. Plus, it was also a good idea to dress business when meeting with executive. Business casual is not something I understand beyond khakis and a sweater set. Have I mentioned that I really, really, really like sweater sets?

To be honest, the only dress code that really excites me is one that doesn't require nylons. Everything else I can handle. But in this here state with this here heat, the nylons literally melt to your legs. I'm completely serious. I would wear pants to work when it was 100+ degrees out because frankly, pants were more comfortable. And did I mention that this is also the home of crazy air conditioning? So you are likely to see people in t-shirts out on the street, but carrying sweaters because it's cold inside. Hence, my devotion to sweater sets which are a nice and neat way of taking care of this problem.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Oh please. Betting on the possibility of terrorism? It's a matter of life and death, not profit. I'd expect to read about something like this in a fic, most certainly not in RL!

Monday, July 28, 2003

There they go again. I'd just like to point out once again that no one I voted for in the last election actually won -- not a single person -- so you can't blame the bad behavior of our elected officials on me. All of this grandstand politicking isn't going to get a state that's already so in debt and so messed up anywhere. Though, things could be worse; this could be California. At least our governor has good hair.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Freaky Linkage

Thugs hack off student's fingers. Linkage provided by the Inimitable Miss Barr when I told her that I received a certified letter from collectors last week (their bad, not mine, but still, 45 panicky minutes of my life...).

Friday, July 25, 2003

In case you were interested, my win percentage on Literati currently sits at 56 percent. I really need a hobby.

I went shopping today for the first time in a really, really long time and I picked up Sarah Brightman's "Harem." I've promised Liz a copy of the CD (along with "La Luna"). On first listen, I really enjoyed the album and was enchanted by "The Long Journey Home," which samples from A.R. Rahman's "Taal." But as time went on, I'm not so sure. I really like the first song, "Harem," and I was slightly bewildered by the new pop version of "What a Beautiful World." In general, this is a more pop, dancing, electronica album and Sarah's voice is still of a classical bent. It's a weird, weird juxtaposition -- she is still soaring high above the music, but the music seems to overpower her sometimes, so there's a vibrato overcompensation. The music and Sarah don't always fit together. I'll have to listen again more closely to know for sure what the final verdict is. I'll be interested to hear what Liz has to say about the CD.

Thursday, July 24, 2003


Borg Journalism. I find the story about Kaycee Nicole to be especially interesting. So, are you all real?

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Book review

I finally managed to get a copy of Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. The book comes highly recommended from various sources, among them the The Richard III Society and Penny Proctor. Those of you who have read my review of Sharon Kay Pennman's The Sunne in Splendor know I'm a shameless apologist for the man. Even so, after four years on the subject, I'm still trying to get a handle on who exactly Richard III is and trying to come up with a good explanation for his schism in personality -- from loyal brother and devoted subject to usurper and perhaps, even murderer. The story of Richard III intrigues because there are no clear cut answers; the historical records at that time are dependent on two or three individuals, including the most famous of them all -- Sir Thomas More (in Tey's language, Sainted More). Because no one really knows what happened to the princes in the Tower, Richard III is a real life mystery and so it makes total sense for it to be a subject of a detective novel.

Tey's writing style is a wittier, more glib than her contemporaries, such as Agatha Christie. She is also accurate; with two exceptions (the execution of Lord Stanley Hastings did happen right away and without a trial and secondly, her portrayal of the Woodvilles is not completely correct -- the Woodvilles were heavily disliked and mistrusted by not only Richard III, but by others also), there are no glaring errors.

In addition, Tey managed to paint the psychological picture of Richard III and his times in a way that fits with facts. Like any skilled mystery novelist, she builds up the mystery which is based on two questions: Who was Richard III and who was responsible for the disappearance (murder?) of the sons of Edward VI? The first question is vitally important as it direct relates to the psychology of the man, which in Tey's hand, is radically different than what came into common belief after his death.

The portrait of Richard III popularly accepted by history was written after the fact and not by sympathesizers to the Plantagenets, but rather to those trying to solidify a weak claim (Henry VII) to the throne; the best way to do that would be to undermine the Plantagenet claim versus that of the Tudor. Tey does not ignore this important piece of evidence -- in fact, through Grant, Tey is very vocal about the power of propaganda. Sir Thomas More, who was five years old when Richard III was killed at Bosworth Field, is probably the one who is responsible for the popular view of Richard III which then passed into literature through the pen of William Shakespeare. Tey spares no respect for the author of "Utopia" -- he is rarely referred to anything other than The Sainted More and always with a bit of sarcasm on the side.

There's no question about the protogonist's motivation from the very first time Inspectator Alan Grant sees the portrait of Richard III. Grant wants to exonerate Richard III -- he simply doesn't believe that Richard III could be responsible for the murder of his nephews based on his psychological profile of Richard. So if not Richard III, then who? Grant goes through the information very methodically, with the help of a research student and a bunch of history text books. Using his knowledge of the criminal mind, Grant constructs a plausible case against another suspect entirely. When spun a certain way, yes, the facts certainly do seem to exonerate Richard III entirely. However, the facts don't necessarily convict the other person either, but rather offer up an alternative suspect that history (through the beauty of propaganda) seems to have overlooked.

However, the book falls short in a couple of places. The first is the intensity of the historical record presented. I read this book from the perspective of someone who knows more than average about this particular time period. Names, characters, and events seemed to have been glossed over -- while I followed properly, it may be someone with less knowledge of that time period may get confused or not follow as easily. Note that this a relatively short book -- my copy was just 200 pages. So there isn't a whole lot of build-up or background explanation; the reader is basically on her own. Given that, the convulated War of the Roses and the conflicts between Margaret of Anjou, Warwick the Kingmaker and Edward of York may lose some of their resonance (and mind you, I'm speaking from a historian's viewpoint; the backdrop, the reason why events happened the way they did during Richard III's reign did not just come into being -- it was a long process that culminated at Bosworth Field ).

Second, while Tey presents a plausible suspect who is not Richard III, she neglects to answer another question: If Richard III didn't do it, where were the boys during his reign? It's a small omission, but a telling one. While Tey has an answer for nearly everything else -- Elizabeth Woodville's acceptance of a pension from Richard III, allowing her daughters back to court, the absolute lack of scandal about the princes in the summer of 1483 -- she skips right over this question.

In general, this book is a quick read and fascinating. The dialogue is clever, though occasionally, due to British slang, occasionally a little bewildering. However, I enjoyed the characterizations, the descriptions and overall, the gentle humor that ran throughout; it's rare to find a mystery that is so light-hearted as this one -- but perhaps that's because we're over 500 years removed from the events described in the book.

I would however, recommend first acquiring a minimum background on the Plantagenents. While I don't recommend Alison Weir's "The Princes in the Tower," I do recommend her survey of The War of the Roses. Weir, as I've said before, has a tendency to embelish and make her biases abundently clear; one can often find facts in Weir's books that are not in evidence anywhere else as a result. That being said, I think her "War of the Roses" is fair and is probably one of the best books on the tumultuous time period that led to the demise of the Plantegenet rule in England. In addition, Jean Plaidy's The Reluctant Queen (about Anne Neville -- mistakenly called Anne of York here) and the aforementioned "The Sunne in Splendor" are both recommended as well.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

France bans the word 'e-mail' from French. Instead, the oh so intuitive courrier electronique shall be used. IIRC, 'courrier' is a noun and means 'mail', and so I've been racking my brain on how to verb-a-size this one. As a noun, it's perfectly easy to use: "J'ai obtenu votre courrier electronique." However, en anglais, e-mail is one of those great, all-purpose words that seems to function just as easily as a verb. "Courrier eletronique moi" just doesn't sound right; it lacks the panache of "Email me!" (though, I don't think emailez-moi is correct either and I'm not sure about the phrase 'mail me' either en francais, linguistically speaking, that is). What I need is a real French person to show/tell me how this all works in the proper context. Hmmm?

Thursday, July 17, 2003

If you swap music online, check this out. I'm personally out of the music downloading business since it caused me nothing but grief and my conscience got the better of me. I'd much rather pay for the music I got. There's a theory that downloading music doesn't hurt anyone, but I'm thinking now that I downloaded three whole albums from someone whose music I enjoy and whose albums I always bought in the past. That's three albums not purchased in the store, which means a loss in revenue for the triumverate of department store/artist/recording company. One might argue that all three entities already have more money than they need -- which could very well be true -- but the same probably isn't true of Lizzie West, whose single "I'll See You Sometime" I downloaded. Lizzie who, you ask? Exactly -- she's brand new and probably doesn't have any name recognition and every day her singles are available for free online means less revenue for her. Madonna might not need more album sales, but up-and-coming artists don't make any money and since I can't differentiate between paying for Madonna versus paying for Lizzie, I'm going to have just suck it up and pay the money.

You wouldn't want to give away your work for free, would you? I mean, theoretically, I do that on this website every single day -- I let people read my writing for free and that's my choice, not a choice made by others for me. See the difference? Admittedly, writing isn't my sole way of making a living; it's a hobby, what I do for fun and so I have no qualms about letting people read what I write for free. If it were my only way of making a living, yeah, I'd be pretty upset if people were photocopying my stuff and passing it around free for the taking without my permission.

I know that I'm personally not going to change anyone's mind; the issue is so ingrained that this is a 'victimless' crime and no one gets hurt and everyone wins. The only way I think I'd continue to download music is if it were with the intent of actually buying the music after sampling it. Since I can't be sure that I'd actually buy the CD after sampling the music, it's easier just to get out of the business all together. I had reservations even before I started downloading and if anything, those reservations are stronger now than before.


Comments are being flaky. I guess YACCS is upgrading the software, servers or something.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

I got a second interview for the marketing analyst position! Go me! I haven't had a second interview in forever. Though, it blows that the second interview is for tomorrow morning at 8 am South of Where I am -- which is a 40 minute drive under no-traffic conditions. I guess I'll be waking up early tomorrow!

Interview #2 in Big City to the South East went well. It's in downtown, on the 38th floor of a Very Tall Building. Very swank, but after talking to them, while very nice, not what I'm looking for. It's not reporting in the tradiitonal sense and there doesn't seem to be a lot of opportunity to cross over into other niches or editorial positions. The good thing is that it's a 9-to-5 type editorial position and no weekends. And oh yes, a lot of travels. This is an international trade publication, so they have offices in London, NYC and Tokyo and that's very cool. I'd love to visit any of those places. But, not sure if I want to do it in an industry publication that frankly, when I read through it, sounds Greek to me.

Monday, July 14, 2003

First interview down. One more to go. I have just enough time to change my suit (it's very, very hot here -- it's impossible to wear the same clothes in the morning as you're wearing in the evening) and shoes, grab a quick lunch and hit the road for interview number two. I'm already slightly panicky about the fact that I'll be hitting the other city at rush hour and it's known for having some of the worst traffic in the country.

The first interview was a marketing analyst position and it's very quantitative which I like. I interviewed with the VP of marketing and she brought up my heavy writing experience since before I worked for Big Insurance Company, I worked for two newspapers. I sidestepped the question by saying that when I was writing for the newspapers, I wasn't really writing for fun. Also, my four years at Big Insurance Company are reflective of the fact that I've moved out of journalism entirely and don't really intend to be back. I think the interview went okay. They say they'll let me know by the end of this week. I'm not going to think too much about it. I've been disappointed so many times, I'm not going to really hold my breath. At least, I did get an interview.

I'm not that excited about this second interview in Big City to the South East because I really don't want to get back into reporting/editing and I don't really want to live in that city and it's a trade publication for an industry that bored me to tears last night when I was reading it. Of course, it could very well be different if I get the job and actually am in the middle of things. I never thought I'd be interested in insurance, but there you have it. I can talk LTC and Life to anyone who'll stand still for 5 seconds. But it's an interview and I need to give it my best shot for that reason.

I talked to Rocky this morning. I arrived for my interview about 40 minutes early, so I sat out in the car (under a tree -- I'm not completely idiotic) and called her up. As always, could have talked longer, but it was soon a few minutes to 10 and I had to go. And speaking of going, here go I.
This one is for Robby. The worst rejection letter I've ever gotten. Lori, Queen of the MSTs, explains the letter here.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Blogger has eaten my April and May archives. I'm going to try republishing the entire thing to see if they miraculously reappear. For the longest time, my September 2001 archives were missing from the index and now, they are here. I think it's a trade-off thing, something blogger does to make sure we're paying attention. "Now you see the archive, now you don't." I was wondering why my 404 page was suddenly one of the most popular pages on my site.
The problem with driving all night is that it makes the morning hurt that much more. We left B/CS an hour later than expected and ended up back here around 2 am. The drive was fine; I know that road like the back of my hand and I was wide-awake, due to having gone out for coffee with R halfway through the graduation party.

I've selected a few writing samples for tomorrow's interview. I realize, rereading some of my clips, that my penchant for snarkiness is not new. It also seems that everything I wrote that wasn't a weekend feature story sounds amazingly alike. "Look, another Seema book review!" "Whoa, another Seema concert review!" "Hey, it's Seema and art galleries again. Who wouldva thunk it?" My editorials are occasionally amusing, but I don't use those as clips simply because they express an opinion or if not an opinion, are high on the snark quotient. I reread my 'farewell' editorial, the last official one I wrote, and in retrospect, it reads like I'm scolding the readers. Bothersome, yes. I'm aware that my humor can be an issue for people who don't know me; hence, I can come across plenty humorless and reserved. It's a heck of a lot better than offending people, I think.
I was on campus tonight for a graduation party. It was a very strange feeling going back. In some ways, it feels more like two years rather than two months since I left town. It was scarily familiar, of course, but at the same time, I knew I didn't belong there anymore and there was an unexpected sadness associated with that. Campus was dug up as usual. Big U has an amazing amount of money and amazingly generous alumni; I believe it's one of the largest alumni networks in the country, if not the world, and hence, there's a constant tearing down and building up.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

We ran the gauntlet of salesmen and lived to tell the tale. Just barely though. I was a few minutes delayed in getting to the Toyota dealership due to my inadequate knowledge of the area South of Where I Am and fear of the Very Big Trucks that rumble through as well. When I pulled up, there were no less than five salespeople waiting outside the door. One of them came right up to my car -- I hadn't even gotten out yet! He asked if I was working with anyone and then gave me his card when I answered in the negative. I told him up front that I wasn't purchasing the vehicle but my cousin was and I was waiting for her to arrive. He then ushered me inside for 'lunch' (cold cut sandwiches; I smiled politely) and told me to get him when my cousin showed. Once, when I was meandering while waiting for Tara, the guy came back again and asked if it was possible that I had missed her. When Tara found me, she said she'd been approached by two salespeople. Looking for cars was just as fun as ducking the salespeople, all of whom looked highly motivated.

My cousin and I are going car shopping today -- for her, not for me. This could be highly amusing. I don't think you can find a flakier pair of women. Seriously. In her words, we're going to look at cars 'shallowly.' So, yeah, probably musing over colors, the look, and other such things. I'm amused just thinking about it. Dodging the salespeople ought to be fun as well. Not that there's any danger of buying anything. A car isn't something that you just randomly purchase because you have a couple of dollars in your purse and neither of us have any money, so we're safe on this count, at least for the moment. However, it is indeed true that I have bought things 'by accident' before.

Last summer in France, I bought a lovely wooden elephant 'by accident'. It's carved out of a gorgeous red wood and is from Africa. Or so, the salesman said. I was simply admiring the elephant and to make conversation, I asked, "Combien pour l'éléphant?" It went all downhill from there. He said 30 euros, I said that it was too much. How much would I pay for such an elephant, the man asked? I said 15 euros. And before I knew it, he'd wrapped the elephant up and handed it to me, and dimwit that I am, I was handing him money for an elephant I had absolutely no intention of buying in the first place; obviously, the salesman knew a sucker when he saw one. I walked around for days with this elephant. Now I'm glad I bought it because it is beautiful.

I'm heading to B/CS this afternoon for a graduation party and won't be back until midnight. Tomorrow is the tea party, which should be a lot of fun. Sarah is going all out, including even tea cozies. Monday is pretty much a wash. Don't expect to see me online -- between the two interviews and the trip to the Big City to the South East (expected return time: midnight), I'll probably not have time to update this blog until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest. Somehow, you'll have to make it without me. Be strong.

Friday, July 11, 2003

When it rains, it pours. I have not one, but two job interviews on Monday. Unfortunately, also in two different cities -- one here and one in the Big City to the South East. The first job is a marketing analyst position which is more in line with what I actually want to do (though salary is low) and the second one is a business reporter position, which could also be a lot of fun. So wish me luck. I'm going to need it.
Because blogger didn't update and I've got nothing to say. Mark it down -- time and date. I have nothing to say.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

De Superbahn

Cable modem. Who knew the Internet was so fast? Loving this!

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

The resurrection of Princess Diana. Scary.
I've written an article: The Craft of Writing. I get emails on occasion asking for advice and given a recent heart-to-heart with a writer, I decided to compile this list. Note: this is all based on my experience and what works for me. Everyone works differently and everyone has different issues he or she needs to iron out -- this is just a list of suggestions, not a hard-fast set of rules.
Why Dean?

Bjorn is another convert to the Dean Cause (tm). Why? Because Dean said:

"I want my country back! We want our country back! I am tired of being divided! I don't want to listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore. I want America to look like America, where we are all included, hand in hand. We have dream. We can only reach the dream if we are all together--black and white, gay and straight, man and woman. America! The Democratic Party! We are going to win in 2004! Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Stand up for America, Stand up for America, Stand up for America."

How can you not appreciate/love that kind of rhetoric?

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

It's all about the hair

Stolen from jemima, who apparently got it from RJ: (links on the side, if you be curious enough to click)

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Verbal Attack -- an obnxious job hunter's blog, link courtesy of jemima who has finally broken free of the Man. I guess this is why I never get any response other than "Resume received" emails; I don't ask about vacations/perks/salaries, nor do I insult the recruiter or the company or plague them with a million phone calls. At this point, any response other than the following would be wonderful:

"Thank you for applying to Company X. People like you are the reason why we're successful. If we can find a position that fits your qualifications, then we will call you immediately, but if you aren't the niece of the CEO, then don't wait by the phone. We will be happy to use your resume to line the bird cage for the next six months. By the way, don't respond to this email. If you do, then you're obviously a nimwit, can't follow directions and the entire HR department will point and laugh at you. Thank you for your interest. Sincerely, Recruiter for Company X."

Monday, July 07, 2003


This was in today's newspaper. Spammer Duncan Shiels is the subject of the article.

"There's some people who sit in there basements and have nothing better to do then get all upset about spam," Shiels says.

No kidding, Sherlock. And actually, it's the fact that we do have something better to do that gets us all upset about the amount of time necessary to delete spam out.

I'd be remiss and one-sided though if I didn't mention here that Shiels eventually got out of the spamming business. He says:

I realized I didn't like to sell anything that nobdoy wants or needs or despises. I started to realize people just hate this so much."

So, one down, about a million more to go.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Links of the Day

Yet another reason to go after the PhD. Thanks to Bjorn for the link.

More from RJ on gay marriages.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

What would Martha Stewart do?

Link of the Day: Big Blog Found In Chile.

I'm still struggling with the curtains. I drape one, the other falls off the curtain rod. I finally get one scarf to puff out properly, the other one falls off the curtain rod. I get one to fall evenly to the floor, the other one just falls -- you get the picture. I like the curtains -- it took me a long time to settle on some that I liked so the idea of returning them is not very palatable. At the same time, not sure what else to do. It could be a new reality show: "Drape curtains in 30 seconds or less and win $1 million!"

Speaking of reality shows, why on earth would anyone want to go on "Fear Factor"? I caught the episode the other night when the contestants were buried alive in a casket in a cemetary at night. They were buried in worms. 500 pounds of worms (what is that, 250 kg, something like that?). I don't need $1 million that badly.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Happy Fourth of July to all! Hope it was a good holiday. I did absolutely nothing today. Well, tried to hang curtains and all that proves is that while I can certainly pick them, there isn't an artistically domestic bone in my body. So the curtains are half on the rod, half sagging down and I keep looking at the picture on the package and wonder why my curtains don't look that pretty. For those of you wondering, these are white scarf curtains with purple leaves scattered on it and according to the picture on the package, they are supposed to drape elegantly on the curtain rod. Some elegance was achieved with the help of rubber bands and scotch tape, but it's still rather dismal looking.

I ended up going downtown to see the fireworks. In five years, this is actually the first time I've gone downtown. Once I watched from the mall and most years I skip it. I have very little patience for big crowds of people, where stupidity seems to reign supreme and so I typically skip such gatherings. But after my plans for the evening fell through (for reasons I'm still rather upset about but will deal with not in this blog), I decided to head downtown for Plan B. It was nice to see the fireworks up close, though I was hoping we'd hear the symphony also. The crowd was very well-behaved (except for the scary people hopping into their car with lots of alcohol -- didn't want to be anywhere near them). I was enchanted by a pair of twins who were just absolutely adorable and wonderful.

I had a long post in mind about Internet and friendship, but that'll have to wait another day. I'm currently about 50 pages from the end of a highly taut and suspenseful novel by Richard North Patterson that I intend to finish tonight. Watch this space for a bookreview shortly.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Curiousity killed the googler

Google is scaring me as of late. I googled myself today and I've been pretty good about my name online except in one particular location and I've been trying to get that cleared off; the good thing about that site is that it has a broken link back to my old Geocities site so I doubt that they would be able to find this particular site and associate it with me. Still, it does give me a bit of pause when I think about how powerful a tool google is. It's one thing if you're an academic or just having a hobby page; this whole fanfic thing is still woefully misunderstood and considered a waste of time and generally not something worth doing.

While I'm not really writing anymore, I'm not ashamed or embarassed by anything I've written either. It's just that I don't want to be judged by a hobby before someone even meets me and evaluates my skills and personality. I claim to be a professionally published writer and editor which is true and I have the clips/magazines to prove it. However, my concern is that if an employer stumbles on this website, they will automatically invalidate what I've done professionally and instead, place judgement on my skills as a writer based on my fanfic, if not make a value judgement about me. One could argue that the quality of my writing should be inherent in the fanfic itself, but then one must also be able to overlook the 'oddness' of fanficcing in the first place.

There are allegedly, according to various media publications, at least half a million people writing fanfic out there (we're not talking about the ones who actually make the shelves of Barnes & Noble). Many more people read. I remember being startled when a classmate mentioned an X-Files fanfic to me that was listed as a WiP on The Haven and she asked me about it. I hadn't read it as I don't read WiPs, but I had heard of it and had read other stories by that particular author. I think I mumbled something incoherent back to her. I suspect now that this person is an Alias ficcer but in a conservative school and in an MBA program, I wasn't going to shout out my knowledge of what's what in Trek and X-Files. My suspicions were confirmed when she started using fanficky terms with me and I kept thinking, "One of these days, she's going to trip me up..."

Since I can't seem to get the author of that other website to remove my name (she seems to have gone AWOL), my only hope that anyone who stumbles across it will think it was a passing fad and I didn't continue on. Everything else that turns up in my real name is completely legitimate and above-board (and I hate the fact that here I'm implying that fanfic is not a legitimate form of writing or even a worthwhile endeavour). It's just the one slip-up that I'm concerned about (Sarah, on the other hand, is convinced that Pocket Books is going to stumble across this site and hire me one of these days; if only she was right). What I do in my free time has no bearing on anything I accomplished professionally; I'm just not sure that the advent of google makes that distinction clear.

I just updated my YACCS code as the old one had some issues with the New!Improved Blogger. This should actually reflect/record comments now. Thanks to RJ for the tip.
Aside to TAMU people: I've forgotten my password to the Masters-Lab account and thus have effectively locked myself out. You can email me at or the email addy that I used on the mailing list Kiran set up or heck, any email address you might have for me that is not Masters-Lab.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

AIM upgraded itself today and now I'm stumbling over new "Rediscover AOL" icons all over my computer. Windows updated itself yesterday as well and now Messenger is back again and I have to exit out every time I boot up. Anyone know how to get rid of Messenger for good? I'm morally opposed to the idea of Microsoft Passport and .NET initiative for no reason other than righteous indignation and protest against the Man.
RJ talks about outcry that the Supreme Court's recent ruling will now allow gay marriages.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Warning: Snark Ahead

I was checking out WebsitesThatSuck.Com since I'm in the process of designing a new, professional website. I usually stop by here to check out the do's and don'ts of website design and to see what the latest, greatest annoyance in design is. I'm a big fan of clean, simple design with consistent navigation on every single page with no more than three colors, maybe four if used judiciously.

My top five web design pet peeves:

  • Flash. Flash. Flash. Gah. Not necessary, slow, and just because it moves doesn't mean it's useful or necessary.

  • Using 'wrapping paper' type backgrounds. You wouldn't write a letter to a friend on wrapping paper so why are you using it on your site?

  • Frames. Unnecessary. The same effects can be done in tables, and seriously, there's nothing worse than being 'framed.' And then there's the other problem -- opening multiple browser windows, which can be completely confusing and annoying to a user who suddenly has 80 million browser windows open.

  • No navigation menu or link to the home page. Getting from here to there is important. Stranding the clicker somewhere, not a good thing.

  • Graphics that aren't defined by size so that the browser has to load the image before it can start on the content. Specifying image dimensions is a very nice thing to do. And oh yes, alt tags are an image's friend as well; they go hand in hand.

I could probably come up with more pet peeves, but these are the most likely that would make me run screaming from a website.
While I'm housecleaning, I also checked in on the bloglet service which allows you to receive email updates from this blog. I found out that some of my information was wrong so the updates weren't being sent to those of you on the subscription list. If you want to receive content from this blog via email fresh off the press, enter your email address in the text box to the left. You know you want to.
I think the problem with the permalinks was archiving related. I have republished the entire blog and the permalinks appear to work just fine again.

I came across The MBA Wire today, one guy's quest to get into a Top 50 B-School. File this site under things nice to know three years ago. What would be interesting is if he actually writes up his first year, a la Scott Turow in "One-L." One thing I regret is not keeping a journal during my two years in B-School. Year 2 wasn't that exciting, for those of you who followed along in the blog. Year 1, however, was an angst fest. I remember reading the schedule of a typical MBA at the school just before entering and I was like, "Okay, up by 8, in bed by 11, not bad." Reality looked something like this:

6 am Yawn, stretch, roll over in bed as the ABC News headlines come on the radio.

6:15 am Roll out of bed. Stumble into the kitchen, pour myself a cup of coffee.

6:18 am Check email

7:15 am Get dressed in whatever's a) clean and b) ironed. Make some kind of lunch.

7:30 am Leave

7:45 am Parking lot wars ensue. (I learned my lesson: second year, I bussed it in).

8 am Computer lab. Checking email again. Professors always send PowerPoints and class notes 10 minutes before class starts; hence, there's a run on the printer and someone is always standing there, pulling her hair out in frustration because she knows she's going to be late.

8:30 am Class starts.

12:00 pm Lunch break/email check. To save time, most of us brought our lunches and ate in the hallways outside the classroom. Occasionally, we'd walk over to the cafeteria which was one building over, but was usually crowded, overpriced, and generally not good. Sometimes, I'd take this break to catch up on some reading or discuss a case with some classmates.

12:45 pm Back in class

2 pm Time to go to work. My office is about 15 minutes away. On the way, I usually munch on a snack of some kind. At work, I check work related emails and phone calls, work on database or website type stuff, write memos and other such things. It's not that exciting.

5 pm Quittin' time! Occasionally, I'd call before leaving work and order food for pick up.

5:20 pm Home. Eat dinner and watch television or check email.

6 pm Go back to school for team meetings.

9 pm Wrap up team meetings. Head home. Have a snack. Watch a little television or check email.

9:30 pm Start homework for the next day. It wasn't uncommon to read 200 pages a night, if not more. Usually we had case discussion questions or accounting problems to work through. And since B-Schools work on the Socratic method of teaching, it's not possible to let something slide for a night; retention is key. The last thing you want is to be embarassed in front of your classmates. It does get around pretty quickly as to who is a slacker and who isn't, who does their work and who doesn't, who is a team player and who isn't.

Midnight Check email. Contemplate answering important emails.

1 am Shower.

1:15 am Go to bed.

6 am The alarm? Already?

So there you have it.
Just a quick note to say the new blogger interface works really well. Now if I can just figure out the problem with my permalinks...
It's times like these

It's been pointed out to me by two different sources that I have been remiss in updating the blog. The reason has to do with apparent conflict between various browsers and blogger. It would take many, many attempts to actually get blogger to update. In the meantime, it looks like Blogger has moved to a pretty new interface (it's blue!). There's still something wrong with my permalinks and I'm contemplating replacing this template with another one because I can't figure out what the deal is (jemima, can you see the problem?).

Three cheers for the US Supreme Court for striking down the Texas sodomy law. It's about time. Having laws that discriminate against homosexuals implies that somehow some of us are more equal and entitled to privacy than other people.

The job hunt is going. I had a spurt of energy yesterday and sent off a whole bunch of applications. I have a spreadsheet now. Things can only go up from there. At least I know where I've been. I also ordered my cable modem yesterday. It'll probably be installed in the next two weeks. I'm really looking forward to going faster than 26.4. Even being able to connect at 49 would have been preferable to 26.4 (and occasionally 28.8).

I have no ideas for my site redesign. Sarah pointed out that it's been over two years since I went with the maroon and white. I'm contemplating a new look in purple, green and white, but I have yet to come up with a layout I like; I've tried playing with a couple of ideas in Photoshop, but nothing has immediately jumped out at me. I'm also thinking that it's time to use CSS for positioning and style. My 9/11 site uses positioning, but that's a small site and I'm apprehensive about doing it across the board. But CSS is flexible and easy and it would be nice to implement some new technology; I've been hanging onto HTML 3.1 for years now. Maybe it's time to let go.