Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Walk in the Park...

There's something beautiful and comforting about holiday light displays. Especially when it involves a weaving footpath and speakers whispering holiday tunes, hot "carnival" food smells wafting through the cold air, cold noses, and over-eager children scurrying to and fro. Merry Christmas (ho ho ho)!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

grasping at straws

It seems there is simultaneously nothing and too much to say these days. Here's my short list of topics I wish I was updating weekly:
  • General Election in Minnesota, specifically my races
  • professional discovery/employment research in Engineering (Electrical/Computer)
  • Fun mathematics finds
  • Job search process in Columbus Ohio (how is it going for me?)
  • Participatory conversation about Operation Iraqi Freedom and my dissent
  • Reaction to/engagement of other news-worthy inter/national headlines
Wow, I could post one a day and leave room for a day off. I should try that (translation: I will never blog consistently enough to do that).

p.s. The only redeeming aspect of Columbus, Ohio is something I brought with me: my siblings. Thank goodness for family, love, and an occasional good meal.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Orwell, Torture, Thoughtcrime: RIP America

What a timely, albeit unplanned, completion of my reading of Orwell's 1984. I couldn't have previously known the scary-accurate parallels between torture exacted at the hands of ("fictional") ThoughtPolice and that condoned by congressional vote this week (S. 3930 As Amended, "Military Commissions Act of 2006").

I found myself far more emotional than I expected to be in response to the recent so-called "anti-terrorism" bill passed in Congress late Thursday, 28 September 2006. The NYT editorial section has a great letter that summarizes certain alarming issues presented in the amended bill. (If you don't want to subscribe to NYT, the letter is partially reprinted here -- scroll down.)

The "memorial" black screen pictured here was yesterday's altered appearance of one of my bloghaunts, Jesus' General, an unusually sober turn from the author's typical tongue-in-cheek satire. By the end of the day, over 500 responses were listed under "pay your respects."

New days follow, however. I choose to believe in America and the "patriotism" of basic human rights, which she upholds. It is a setback that our senators have forgotten us, but hope is not lost. I'm emotionally exhausted. I will probably find more time/energy to write about this again soon.

technorati tags: anti-terrorism, torture bill, , , , , Mourn America,

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Math Simplified: a fresh take on multiplication

Thanks to the folks at 37signals for reposting this blurb on simplified arithmetic for products of two (or more) two-digit numbers.

(The original article was run in the Chicago Tribune, registration required.)

Take a minute to walk through this technique:

**Note: the following material is my original work, not a re-posting.**

The grid approach is not without that pesky requirement to "carry" ones. It is merely a re-arrangement of traditional multiplication. (Trust me, it is: the "proof" is too nerdy to endure!)

The C-trib illustrators inadvertently cause a pitfall for students of the new technique when they start diagonal addition from the left. One small adjustment solves the discrepancy: begin addition from the right.

Ask yourself: can you think of a combination of two 2-digit numbers for which at least one of the diagonal sums is greater than 10? If you can, you've just demonstrated to yourself the need to begin diagonal addition from the right, carrying 'extra' ones leftward, as is with the traditional approach. See my illustration below:

The first result occurs when diagonal addition begins at the left; illustrated at right is the intended result, having carried the ones: 78 x 59 = 4602.

Continuing the algorithm just a little farther into application, we see that it still works when applied to three-digit products (example, 362 x 147 = 53214):

And, with nerdy satisfaction, I proudly report to all two of my readers that I did this just for fun!

My favorite Calculus professor (pictured) taught us about a Latin abbreviation commonly used to signify the close of a proof: Q.E.D. (Quod Erat Demonstratum). I much prefer the mnemonic device he taught us to remember it, tongue in cheek: "Quite Easily Done."

technorati tags: Chicago Tribune, teaching math, , , , , ,

Friday, September 22, 2006

Breast Ambassador

Apparently I'm just six years on the uptake, but for those of you who also haven't heard of this... There's a group in Canada that produces an annual calendar entitled "Breast of Canada." The calendar site claims: "The Breast of Canada calendar is about health. Maintaining and improving your health and cultivating a positive body image stimulates a higher quality of life... Net proceeds for the 2007 edition will be directed to the Canadian Breast Cancer Network."

Finally, my favorite is the list of ten steps to becoming a Breast Ambassador:
1. Buy two Breast of Canada calendars. Put one up in a prominent place in your home or workplace. Give one to someone you love. The calendar is an affordable tool for change. It will inspire conversation.
2. Use your voice.
3. Make friends with your own body - Touch your breasts. [My note: this is to encourage self breast exams.]
4. Avoid blaming and complaining about "them" and try reclaiming "you."
5. Turn off your television for a straight 24 hour period and engage your imagination instead.
6. Be brave - It takes courage to change the world. But it's fun to roar like Tarzan.
7. Smile and use your sense of humour - People don't like to be hit over the head, but we can all use a good laugh.
8. Notice your own behavior and how you contribute to our society's attitudes about women's bodies.
9. Realize that you can completely change the world with your effort. Always give yourself a pat on the back.
10. Become a Breast Friend of the Breast of Canada calendar.

I'm excited about ordering my calendar. Let me know in comments if any of you does the same.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

American English: taxonomy

This is fitting; I never can manage to escape that little bit of northern-Minnesotan lilt. What do you mean there is more than one pronunciation of "route"?!

Your Linguistic Profile:
75% General American English
10% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
5% Yankee
0% Midwestern

I got this "Blog Thing" via Notes to Self, who sometimes thinks she's speaking into a void.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

California, reception, reunion

Derek, Irena and me

Took a trip to California this last weekend to celebrate and honor my cousin Derek's marriage at a small reception. I felt so priviledged to be invited; our reunion had been fifteen years coming. He was my childhood best friend, outside of siblings of course, and that connection came rushing back in a few precious instants of conversation and reflective walks. My parents were there, too, along with a number of other family members I hadn't seen in years. San Francisco offered periods of relaxation, more out of inability to do anything else than lack of a to-do list. I took this picture of us just after leaving the chocolate festival at Ghirardelli Square. Cheers.

Friday, August 25, 2006

New to Creative Commons: Sampling License!

This is such a great presentation of how Creative Commons (cc) began, some noteworthy applications over the past year plus, current new developments, and a vision for the near future. Highlighted is a new license made available at Creative Commons specifically for taking copyrighted material in acceptable snippet sizes for incorporation into a larger work. The presentation guides a brief overview of what that could mean. Give yourself about 4-5 minutes to watch it. It's worth the watch.

Admittedly, I don't have all the tech skills I need to embed a player unless someone gives me the code, so here's a link.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Red Red Red

Words of wisdom, eerily similar to anything sensible I could get to emerge from my lips at the moment: "Red Red Red" from the Album Extraordinary Machine.

I don't understand about complimentary colors and what they say
side by side they both get bright
together they both get grey
but he's been pretty much yellow
and I've been kind of blue
but all I can see is red red red red red now
what am I gonna do?

I don't understand about diamonds and why men buy them
what's so impressive about a diamond except the mining?
but it's dangerous work
trying to get to you too
and I think if I didn't have to kill kill kill kill kill kill myself doing it,
maybe I wouldn't think so much of you

I've been watching all the time
and I still can't find the tack
but what I wanna know is
is it okay, is it just fine?
or is it my fault, is it my lack?

I don't understand about the weather outside
or the harmony in a tune and why somebody lied
but there's sollace a bit in submitting to the
fitfully cryptically true
what's happened has happened
what's coming is already on its way with a role for me to play
and I don't understand
I never understand
but I'll try to understand

there's nothing else I can do

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see..."

(reference to a quote from Linus of Peanuts in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown")

So my buddy Jimmy R and I were having a little debate. First it was about the origin of 'good grief,' and his response that it must be a Minnesota thing. I tried to argue that Charlie Brown says 'good grief' as well and that Charles Schultz was not from Minnesota. Hm, ended up eating my words -- the Peanuts author originated from Minneapolis.

Unfortunately, the 'Great Pumpkin' episode was all I could find in my attempts to score a 'wah wah wah' clip of the teacher, Ms. Othmar. She's not in this one, but it's always fun to watch a little Peanuts anyway.

Even though it's not Halloween, and Ms. Othman isn't in this feature, there is plenty of 'Good grief!' to be heard. Enjoy, courtesy of YouTube.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Right Here, Right Now...

Caught up in present moments now... loving the people close to me. We're on a constant quest for non-dial-up internet at businesses we patronize. Getting wireless at any hour in this town is challenging enough, but getting it after six p.m. is even worse. Found the spot. The wonderful place -- the laundromat. Despite "no loitering" notices, we press on. Have to have our wireless, conduct our business. It's not drug-dealing, after all, just a little necessary web work. Here's a photo journal of my life. My "right now":

Abe and Jenn discuss laptop battery life

Jenn's photo of dryer perspective

I thought 'No Smoking' and 'Change' looked cool together.

Two vices: coffee and a car I can't afford (but it makes me look damn good).

Lights, outside and in, superimposed, American flag sandwiched between here and twilight.

Self portrait, entitled "this is the present"

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sonya Kitchell: train

What a pleasant surprise to find such moving talent and beauty in a vocal performance! I took the time to re-visit my latest-greatest, favorite site, Odeo. There I stumbled across a full-bodied recording from Starbucks' next Music Debut artist, Sonya Kitchell, listed under "New Audio."

You don't need to see these words in order to feel them. Sonya cleverly, ever-sensually, takes the listener's hand and leads her through vivid landscapes on a train ride -- a metaphor for so much more than that. Cascading piano notes and train-rumble acoustic guitar and bass leave no question of depicted surroundings. The words are hers; the music is hers. If you like what you hear, I encourage you to visit her site. There you will find a few more tracks from her new album to sample before it reaches stores in April. Sit back, relax, and take this train ride with my new hero, Sonya Kitchell.

I've just taken a seat on the train
I walked through busy streets down a shadowy lane
I just bought my ticket for the ride
there's no turning back now
no matter what I decide
steel body moves fast, hinges pounding against the ground
I sink into my seat
I pray for it to speed up, but I wish it would slow down
my body quivers with anticipation for what lies ahead
wood is thrown onto the fire that cries out to be fed
mist shrouds the dawn, so ahead I cannot see
the train it moves ever forward into the misty sea
there's so many faces
most of the time I feel so alone
there's so many places
will I ever stop and know my own home?
I know I'm gonna get there, but I'm not sure when
nor do I know where I'm going, so I won't pretend
I cannot see beyond the horizon nor around the bend
the train it moves ever forward without a seeming end...
out of one window, I saw rain
I looked through the other, and I felt the warm sun's rays
the wind, it gently blew across my weary shoulder
and time whispered in my ear, '
Child, you're just gonna keep getting older'
but I've done nothing more than take a seat on this here train
yet my life turned upside down and only -- only the little things are right

One more thing... Did I mention that she is sixteen years old? Now listen to it again.

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My Voice, the mirrored me

I am using this post to feature an original poem of mine, circa 2003. I have included an audio recording of my own recitation of the piece; I invite you to listen to it as you read. This is my quiet artist shining through -- a poet, warrior, woman -- timid but strong.

~~~ caffeine ~~~
caffeine is failing me
waiting to fall now --
already fallen
hope is what I do in that drugged-up state
birth and death
but, choosing no longer to hold my breath
I resort to old measures --
drug-induced joy
to give not experience
but shadow reminders
of what I could be -- what I once was:
the faintly mirrored me

Nods to MG Tarquini for trading inspiration with me!

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Podcasting with Odeo

I visited Odeo today, searching through the "Odeo Top 40" list for podcasts that appeared interesting. After selecting a variety of channels that appeared to not load properly, I finally settled on the channel "IT Conversations" and selected a recent entry entitled "The Architechture of Participation."

I listened to Yahoo Local's General Manager, Paul Levine, address a "Where 2.0 Conference" audience in San Francisco June 2005. Mr. Levine drops buzz words ranging from Web 2.0 -- calling it "Web Two Dot Oh" -- to innovation, search services, mashups, and hacks (links to Wikipedia's explanations I required for understanding). Levine shares Yahoo's acronym for their overarching goal: "...being able to Find, Use, Share, and Expand (FUSE) all human knowledge." He exemplifies his vision by talking the audience through a view of Yahoo Local's service, specifically taking the role of a conference attendee who is searching for a particular type of spanish cuisine near the conference location. The example highlights the interactive advantage gained through user reviews, mapping services, and the ability to "print" the information to a mobile phone directly from the web.

I learned a new term from Mr. Levine: API, the abbreviation for Application Program Interface (Wikipedia's explanation). Levine specifically highlights Yahoo's traffic API, which he claims to be the only nationally dispersed service of its kind at the time of this conference. I followed Mr. Levine's directions throughout his presentation and viewed a more comprehensive list of Yahoo's current APIs.

I have included the podcast, via Odeo's flashplayer, for anyone who would like to hear Mr. Levine for herself.

Update: My "Levine" spellings are now all alike. It seems half of the name instances were 'LAvine' and half 'LEvine.' Thanks, Kamran, for the catch.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

More on Grammar

Lifehacker brought excellent advice for writing into the spotlight late last week. Lori Mortimer of Blogcritics presents an interesting review and counterpoint to recent advice published by blogger and columnist John Scalzi on writing for "nonprofessional writers."

Mortimer gracefully points out Scalzi's omissions of active voice, strong verbs, "sleep(ing) on it," and obtaining the review of one or two trusted readers. Mortimer highlights Scalzi's fuzzy guidance he gave for writing with regards to the period, comma, and semicolon. The most important thing I learned from Mortimer, though, is that a sentence is a structure, complete with included link to one of the most concise and generally fabulous grammar pages I have seen in a long time.

Thanks to Lori Mortimer for commentary that began to set me straight.

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In class on Thursday, Mary mentioned that there are approximately thirty common prepositions recognized in English usage. I found a helpful site sponsored by Capital Community College (CCC) in Hartford, Conneticut. CCC's link about common prepositions listed 44 common prepositions, ranging alphabetically from 'about' to 'without.'

The main page for prepositions also contains several links to Quizzes on prepositions. The one I found most helpful is this one, an excerpt taken from Hemmingway, in which the viewer is expected to identify and list in order all prepositions used. It took about 3-4 minutes for me to complete the exercise.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Technorati Tagging

I'm still experimenting with the Technorati Tagging tool. I believe this tool to be not only useful but necessary for gaining legitimacy in the public forum -- the Conversation. However, I find myself hesitant to go ahead and TAG. I've been running through thoughts to try to figure out why, exactly, I feel this way.

I think I've got it. I went back and reviewed my notes from last week's discussion about The World Is Flat, and realized that I'm always much much more comfortable operating in a "Taxonomy" (link to Wikipedia's definition), as Mary called it. I most naturally review all the possible categories and then place my items in the 'most appropriate' one.

Tagging with Technorati and any other tagging tool online requires one to function in a "Folksonomy" (link to Wikipedia again). I'm not comfortable with this yet. I won't pretend to be. However, there is an adventurer in me rising up to the challenge.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Technorati: Long Way Left to Go

As directed during class today, I checked out Technorati's website. I set up an account, profile, and claimed my Purdue 106 Blog.

I scanned through the article by Dave Sifry, "The State of the Blogosphere," and learned the following interesting bits of information:
  • As of February 2006, there are 27.2 million weblogs in existence
  • Technorati tracks as many as 75,000 new blogs created daily and a growing collection of two billion links
  • 1.2 million new posts are created each day, an average of 50,000 per hour, with 400,000 of these being tagged posts
  • Hot topics today (6 Feb 2006) were Politics, Technology, Gardening, and Erotica
I confess that I did not finish navigating through the hand-out during the lab today, mostly because I was still busy learning about cool stuff on Technorati. I learned something that I have never thought about before. I was already aware that Google is known for state-of-the-art anti-spamming algorithms. Their company is constantly working to eliminate participation with "click fraud" -- new term for me today, which I found well-defined at Wikipedia -- as well as any web code designed to force prospective customers to go places against their will (webspam). The part I had never thought about is that Google has the difficult task of bolstering defenses not only in English, but also in every other language on the web, to the best of their ability. This was demonstrated in Google's blog article, written by Matt Cutts, regarding webspam and the bold move of telling BMW that until they clean up the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) code on their german sites, all related pages will be removed from the Google index. Here's the exact statement from Matt:

"So, when you believe your pages are clean enough to be reincluded in Google, send us a Google reinclusion request. We’ll need to hear about who suggested the SEO idea of JavaScript redirects not only on, but on other domains such as and and and ."

Wow. BMW has always impressed me as a powerful company. But where does anyone and everyone go to find something on the internet? Google. I am grateful to Google for keeping the customer in mind:

Search engine users in other countries and languages are just as tired of webspam as American users, and they deserve the best quality that Google can provide."

In conclusion I'll say that I spent time getting familiar with Technorati. I did not even finish adding tags to my blog space, creating a watchlist, or getting to the two other directed sites (Alexa and PubSub). I am consuming all of this new information, but there is still a long way to go.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Podcasting: Odeo

I'm actually using some tools from to demonstrate one way to use their FREE service! I just noticed while developing this post that our class will be covering Odeo later in February, so I won't spend a lot of time going into great detail. Here's the down-and-dirty:

Odeo is a free audio creation, storage, podcasting service. It is based out of San Francisco, California, and they began their business in December 2004. They have recently added features to incorporate video stream into the casting (webcasting). This is part one of many for my discovery path (translation: I haven't made a webcast yet), but I'm really excited about discovering the audio/video possibilities for my personal use on the internet. I will keep updates of my journey posted here.

For more specifics from Odeo developers Biz, Noah, and Ev, please listen to the audio clip they created using their own software below. It wanders around a bit, but the middle portion launched great brainstorming ideas in my head for what I could do with this service. And now, our special guest, Odeo...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Using Performancing

This is a post that I created using Performancing for Firefox.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Texts that Write Me

I am at a crossroad this year, this month, this moment. I am written both by everything and nothing, and as grandiose and over-stated as that may seem, I will tell you what I mean.

I have spent the last year being composed first (so they thought) by the military (a 12 month deployment to Iraq), and second (or last) by everything else. My personal exercise in self-composition was in acknowledging my ability to choose the composition more than ever before.

I am composed by military, rules, structure, protocol. I am drawn to locations of order, places with rules, and preferably rules that come naturally to me. A uniform, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the Rules of Engagement (ROE), a duty to protect the Main Entry Control Point (ECP) for our base, and soldiers under my care and leadership -- these all composed me. I lived long periods of time in which I perceived myself as being written entirely by outside texts, and none of my choosing.

Then I started to choose. I chose makeup and perfume, manicures and jewelry. I persisted all the way to the fence dividing compliance and violation of the rules at hand. I was in a war zone, but I was choosing to be written by womanhood.

I am written by music. I am moved, and molded, shaken and entranced by music. Sometimes melody takes me for a ride, sometimes the emotion I think I can feel conveyed by the composer/author all the way through director and producer... through my speakers, to my spine, and then to my heart. I play the piano, and the best moments are when I can hear the genius of Debussy, Beethoven or Mozart through the feeble attempts of my fingers. I love feeling engulfed in the sound, complex sound, surrounding me and weaving me into its center. I love that feeling.

I am written by family. I have two brothers, a sister-in-law, and mom and dad. We are all adults, and we love each other's company. I attended my youngest brother's 21st birthday celebration just over a year ago, and it was a great transition for my siblings and me -- we could finally all go out to the bar together! My brothers and I often play music on guitars together, adding random other instruments at times, and getting so carried away that we lose track of time.

I hate admitting this one about myself: I am written by romance. I'm a softie. I'm gooey, spineless, mushy, gushy. I love cuddling up to watch a movie, taking a walk, jogging together, reading a book together -- I LOVE that stuff. The difficulty is that I'm written by my predisposition about what romance is. I've built this Superman-like ideal in my mind who's really a Frankenstein-Monster-collage of all the best traits I've ever encountered! Luckily, my brothers and Dad provide real-world proof that "real men" can actually be supermen too.

Womanhood and femininity write me. Every day I learn more about what that means, but the upshot is acceleration of my ability to claim strength. I love the power of being a woman. I love exhibiting drive in a public place, keen observation and coy conversation. Regulating my own stated information about myself increases my sense of ownership over my own identity. I enjoy my aggressive multi-tasking skills, and I have often caught myself purposefully pushing "opponents" to interactions which force them to multi-task as well, just so I can spar wits with them.

Finally, I am written by all things logical and mathematical. If I could take a room arrangement and liken it to a mathematical formula (and for some reason had time to do so), I would. I am inspired by analysis. I like taking quantitative -- or even qualitative for that matter -- information and creating structure within, designing an orderly pattern that would clearly communicate to outsiders. I like logically structured arguments, and even more so, I like discovering flaws in illogical arguments and fixing them.

There is more that composes me. I struggle to see where the writing of me has ever stopped or started, from birth until death, but this should be a pretty good start.