Friday, July 28, 2006

out of touch

No postings for the next week -- I will be out of touch. I am going on a much-needed family vacation. We are heading up to Interlochen, Michigan for some R&R, on Green Lake. I hope to do not much of anything while we are there. I am not taking a computer, the house doesn't have one, there are no internet cafes nearby. My cell phone reception there is spotty at best.

It is getting harder and harder to achieve electronic down-time. Even vacation houses come equipped with internet access and computers. Laptops with wireless whittle down the possible excuses. Cell phones with wider ranges, with email capabilities, keep everyone in constant touch with work.

Except -- I don't want to be in contact. I want to not think about what I do for a living. I don't want to browse, search, program, query, click, point, support or anything else. Hell, I am not even sure I want something as tech as a TV for a few days.

Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

tiger with no teeth

The UN is a tiger with no teeth. I was reading news coverage today of the crisis in Lebanon. While world opinion is firmly in the cease-fire camp, and the UN argues persuasively for the need for a sustainable peace, they really can't do much.

The problem is that the UN has only two weapons in its arsenal: economic penalties and world disapproval. We can discount the 2nd weapon immediately -- because really few nations care whether the UN is unhappy with them. The sanctions are real, and can cause harm, but are often ignored or used as a political tool to stir up resentment and dissent. The sanctions are also difficult to enforce.

The UN needs a way to enforce its decisions, to impose its will. Member nations should not be able to pick and choose (like the US does on a regular basis) when to follow UN dictates, and when to ignore them. Indeed, no nation should be able to opt out of UN membership, or be excluded from membership. We need global representation, and global commitment to resolve global issues. For too long, the superpowers have had their way, been the biggest bullies on the block.

I am not sure how all of this can be accomplished. But I see problems in our future, like severe drinking water shortages, or global warming, that need a strong global organization to reach any kind of solution.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

global warming

Will the last person in America who doesn't believe in global warming please stand up, so we can knock you down? It was 112 in Sacramento yesterday. St Louis has had a week of 90plus degree heat. The whole country is one big ball of sweat.

And its not just this year. Last year was one of the hottest on record, as was the year before. You can argue about the root causes of global warming, but I don't see how you can argue that it exists.

If I stay in my house long enough, I think I could eventually have waterfront property. And I am about 5 miles from the Inner Harbor... If I owned beach-front property right now, I'd be starting to think about how long I could hold my breath.

I always wanted to live in the tropics -- I just thought I would have to move to do it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


So am I a Magnum or a really big beer? Am I twice the woman I was at 22? Am I nearing the halfway point in my life, or am I past it?

I know less than I did ten years ago. Or I should say I am certain of less than I was ten years ago. I like myself a whole lot more. I have much more confidence in myself and my judgement, and just plain feel more comfortable in my own skin.

Things I haven't done -- travel the whole world, see the grand canyon, get my scuba cert, earn a black belt, run a marathon, write a book, walk on the moon, learn to sing

On the whole, though, I really couldn't ask for more. Life is good.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

feeling better all the time

There is war in the middle east, okay, more war in the middle east. The stock market has taken a nose dive. People continue to shoot each other, rob each other, and in general be very very rude. And yet, I feel pretty good.

I finished a project!! I have been carrying a heavy weight of stress for months and months and months because I had the largest programming project I have ever had to do, and a limited amount of time to do it in. And it is FINISHED!!! People are using it. I am working out the bugs, because there ARE ALWAYS bugs, but that's trivial.

I have another year's worth of projects on my desk, so its not like I get to coast now. But there is something so freeing, so loosening, about lifting the millstone off my shoulders. Completion is a beautiful word, it really is.

Monday, July 17, 2006

maternal rage

You know, I am not a person given to wild rage. But yesterday, I could have hurt someone. I didn't, and I am still amazed at my restraint.

We went yesterday to pick up our new puppy. The breeder had called and scheduled the appointment. We have had a deposit down for 6 months, have met with the breeder, filled out a long application, gone up and played with the dogs.

We arrived at 5pm, as scheduled. She said she needed ten minutes and to just wait outside. We admired the puppies, picked blackberries, and hung out. The breeder came out, picked one pup from two outside cages filled with puppies (16 puppies in all!), and handed him to us. We petted and admired "MAX", the name we had decided on. We helped give him a bath, amused the pup with toys, etc. At one point, the very large puppy wiggled a bit, and my son dropped him. The pup was fine, but the breeder was upset, and my son cried and was frantic that he had hurt the puppy. He hadn't. They played some more, and we went to sign our contract.

Then things got weird. The breeder had not gotten the shots the puppy was supposed to have. She didn't have the health guarantee either. She hadn't microchipped the puppy. Before we could start discussing this, the puppy again wiggled out of my son's arms, from about a foot above the ground. The breeder got an odd look on her face, and then said she was "uncomfortable" and would return our deposit.

My son began weeping unconsolably. I asked her to please not do this to him. She answered that she had to protect her pups. She went inside, leaving us to try to calm our son. She came out, gave us our deposit, and shut the door again.

I have NEVER been so pissed off in my entire life. She hurt my son, making him think he was a bad person. It was his twelfth birthday, a fact she knew. And yet, rather than give us an opportunity to help him with the dog, she just decided we couldn't handle the animal. My son spent the whole car ride home weeping that he had hurt the puppy, that he didn't deserve a dog, and that he had made us lose Max.

I could have killed the woman. That is not an exaggeration. I think at that moment, I really could have. I have never felt anything like that before, so cold and irrational. I held it together for my son; I didn't want him to see me lose control in anger at another person. But oh my god it was hard, maybe the hardest thing I have ever done.

I am calmer now, but not by much. We will get another dog, I am sure. And my son will love the new pup, and get over his disappointment eventually. But I would do anything to erase the hurt he felt, anything.

Monday, July 10, 2006

something new vs something different

I rolled out two new systems to my users at the end of last week. The new hires picked up everything with little effort, because they were learning something new. The old timers struggled because they have to learn different ways of doing something they already know.

This is where I made my discovery: it is much easier to learn somthing new than something different. It probably has something to do with habit. Once something is ingrained, you have to unlearn before you can learn.

Monday, July 03, 2006


A friend recently sent me a link to an article about friendship, or more accurately, about the lack of it. Fewer people are reporting that they have friends, and the folks that do have friends have fewer of them.

Research done by Professor Lynn Smith-Lovin, of Duke University documents this trend. Oddly, at least from my perspective, is that the poorer you are, and the less education you have, the fewer close friends you have. I would have thought that friendship was one of the few things impervious to class distinctions.

I find the trend disturbing. I value my friendships, and really couldn't imagine a life with no one to turn to in times of happiness and sadness. How could you make yourself go through the day?

The world is getting smaller. With the internet and email, it's easier to keep in touch, easier to "meet" people from all over the globe -- you no longer have to have something in common with the folks on your street or at your work -- you can find like minded folks anywhere on earth. You can be the biggest oddball in your town, and guaranteed, you could find a dozen folks just like you on-line.

Is it that people just don't care to make friends any more? Do we not want connections? I find it hard to believe. Maybe we just don't know how to meet people, how to form friendships. Maybe we need to start emphasizing "social skills" when teaching children.

Per usual, I have no answers, just questions. But if you are a friend, and you are reading this, I love you, I appreciate you, and I'm here, whenever.