Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Stellar's Jay

Blurry photo; impressive bird. Felton CA. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Soap search: the whole food edition

I got this recently. I like the smell, although not overwhelmingly. It's milled and I like it but it's not as foamy as some milled soaps I've used in hotels. The price is reasonable. It doesn't melt while drying in the shower like some soaps. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trader Joe’s Brewed Ginger Beer

Yesterday I tried Trader Joe’s Brewed Ginger Beer. I liked it--it's strongly flavored. It's a little sweet to drink plain, but I bet it would be good with vodka.  Denise thought it could be spicier. Contains lime and lemon juice. 

http://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/brewed-ginger-beer


Fever-tree ginger ale

It's mild but interesting. $3 for 17oz. 

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Facial hair GWAS

When Eyebrows Collide: Scientists Map the Genetics of Facial Hair - Discover
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2016/03/01/gray-hair-genes-unibrow

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Martian

Rented from iTunes Feb 18, 2016. Loved it. 

Deadpool

Great opening scene, both the dynamic 360 degree camera work and the credits (“a film by some douchbag"). Generally funnier than I expected. Very raunchy, at about the level of the first hangover movie. 

Working with teams

When I'm working with a great team, the advantages are obvious, but becoming a great team is tough. Here's a nice discussion about Google efforts to identify what makes teams great.

http://nyti.ms/20WG1yY

As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. ‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,’’ Woolley said. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’

Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues. One of the easiest ways to gauge social sensitivity is to show someone photos of people’s eyes and ask him or her to describe what the people are thinking or feeling — an exam known as the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. People on the more successful teams in Woolley’s experiment scored above average on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. They seemed to know when someone was feeling upset or left out. People on the ineffective teams, in contrast, scored below average. They seemed, as a group, to have less sensitivity toward their colleagues

...Within psychology, researchers sometimes colloquially refer to traits like ‘‘conversational turn-taking’’ and ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ as aspects of what’s known as psychological safety — a group culture that the Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines as a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’ Psychological safety is ‘‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up,’’ Edmondson wrote in a study published in 1999. ‘‘It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.’’

...Most of all, employees had talked about how various teams felt. ‘‘And that made a lot of sense to me, maybe because of my experiences at Yale,’’ Rozovsky said. ‘‘I’d been on some teams that left me feeling totally exhausted and others where I got so much energy from the group.’’ 

...For Project Aristotle, research on psychological safety pointed to particular norms that are vital to success. There were other behaviors that seemed important as well — like making sure teams had clear goals and creating a culture of dependability. But Google’s data indicated that psychological safety, more than anything else, was critical to making a team work.

...However, establishing psychological safety is, by its very nature, somewhat messy and difficult to implement. You can tell people to take turns during a conversation and to listen to one another more. You can instruct employees to be sensitive to how their colleagues feel and to notice when someone seems upset. But the kinds of people who work at Google are often the ones who became software engineers because they wanted to avoid talking about feelings in the first place.

...What Project Aristotle has taught people within Google is that no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when they get to the office. No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy. We can’t be focused just on efficiency. Rather, when we start the morning by collaborating with a team of engineers and then send emails to our marketing colleagues and then jump on a conference call, we want to know that those people really hear us. We want to know that work is more than just labor.

...By adopting the data-driven approach of Silicon Valley, Project Aristotle has encouraged emotional conversations and discussions of norms among people who might otherwise be uncomfortable talking about how they feel


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Wars: the force awakens

Saw it last Saturday night with Karin and Cathy. I urgently wanted to see it so reviews wouldn't give away plot points. Totally enjoyed it. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Spectre

With Anne. Didn't wow me, but I enjoyed it. 

Nutz

Fun, thanksgiving 2015. Followed by ice cream home run at penny's creamery. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Chocorooms



http://www.meijiamerica.com/products/chocorooms.html

All the proof I need to know that the world is good. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Not on spotify

I've looked and not found:

"I feel for you" by Chaka Khan (from the album "I feel for you")

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Relatos Salvajes

Saw Wild Tales last night. Very Almodovar. Maybe Almodovar/Lynch/Tarantino. Liked the Almodovar aspects immensely.




Sunday, February 15, 2015

Paddington movie

Loved it. Must be dog-inspired.


Monday, December 29, 2014

...until I absolutely have to

I don't know why this is so resonant for me, but I'm always charmed by the delivery of this phrase by Steven Weber playing Jack Rudolph on Studio 60.
Can I opt to not be a part of this until I absolutely have to?
I think it applies to nearly every piece of administration and management in my life. 

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Backing up my Pinterest data

I love Pinterest, but their organization is primitive. I couldn't clean up my board without making major changes and deleting pins. I didn't want to permanently delete them though, because I often go back to research I did years ago. So I made a local backup of my pins.

Here are the commands that worked for me using in a Bash shell on a Mac:

 # where do you want the backup to go?
cd /Users/manducasexta/Documents/Dropbox/computer/backup/pinterest

# what is your Pinterest URL?
a=http://www.pinterest.com/manducasexta/

# Exclude these pinterest directories; we only want our own boards.
excludeList=/popular,/all,/gifts,/terms,/copyright,/categories,/explore,/videos,/places,/_

# Download your home page and your boards
wget --convert-links --exclude-directories=$excludeList --recursive --level=2 --domains=pinimg.com,www.pinterest.com --span-hosts $a 
Watch out for line breaks. The lines that start with "#" are comments. Each comment is followed by text that should all be on one line, so you may need to fix the line if you copy and paste.

I wanted to minimize the effect on Pinterest servers, so I excluded directories and limited my recursion level to limit the download as much as possible to my own pins. The download does include things from other people's directories, but the only thing I saw downloaded from them was index pages (not images).

I have 709 pins. The local backup is 220 MB.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cafeina in Albany

This is a nice place. There was a steady stream of clients sitting at tables a a few long timers.

It's a pretty small place and they don't seem to have a broad range of drinks. I didn't see any blended options. I had an iced mocha that I enjoyed. The work of the staff seemed kind of effortful rather than effortless and not actively welcoming.

They have no dedicated wifi. It's on the same block as Toy-go-round, which is great.

There is a fair amount of shady parking for free on the street. It wasn't hard to find parking on a Tuesday morning at 10:30. The parking was for 90-120 minutes. After 80 minutes, I checked my

It's not my favorite--I'll keep looking.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rick and Ann's

Brunch at Rick and Ann's with D and F M and the two dogs. Food was good, especially the almond honey scone. Great to see D and F. We took apple berry pie to go and ate it on D and F's new nearby patio.

Photo from bringfido.com credited to Rick and Ann management

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I am not a "PR friendly blogger"

What are the chances I'm going to follow a twitter user whose bio says she's a "PR friendly blogger." That sounds like a synonym for "content free" to me.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

In the key of debutante

Having recently read the autobiography of a debutante who joined the circus and generally transgressed the social mores of her upbringing (Still Swinging in Wonderland), this comment about the recently deceased Jean S. Harris struck a chord with me:
The New York Daily News reporter Theo Wilson wrote that she took the stand looking as if she could not “pick up the wrong fork, much less a loaded gun.”
- Lesley Dormen, NYTimes, 1/4/2013

Friday, November 23, 2012

Primitive twig

My favorite thing I saw Sugarloaf craft fair at Montgomery County Fairgrounds last Saturday were these figures by Primitive Twig. Their website didn't really represent the stuff I saw, so I lifted this photo from a google search:



I don't know that I'd want one in my home, but I was entranced.

geometric silver rings

The Artsilver booth at the Sugarloaf craft fair at Montgomery County Fairgrounds (last Saturday) had tons of rings and other jewelry. There was a lot of stuff that wasn't my taste, but I really like the overall sensibility. They have a bunch of rings that can be split in two and flipped, changing the shape.



fine-line printed shirts

I saw these at the Sugarloaf craft fair at Montgomery County Fairgrounds last Saturday. The print designs are really nice. The fabric is soft. It's not as extremely thin as some, but it's still thinner that I would wear without wearing a second shirt under it.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Olympic photography



I was struck by this photo of Olympic show jumping by Alex Livesey. It turns out he's taken quite a few striking pictures of horses, including some skikjoring:


Some other excellent professional photos from the Olympics are being taken with an iPhone.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympic fashion - south korea vs norway

I love the fun hats on the female South Korean archers, and the rest of the shooting ladies aren't doing too bad in the fashion department. I'm not sure they're in the same league with the Norweigan curling guys of Vancouver 2010 though.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

NIH plays Peck and Bartok

The NIH Philharmonia performed two Concerti for Orchestra by modern composers last night. There was lots to intrigue me: one of my doctors was performing in the orchestra, the distribution of the age of performers (mostly 50+, next largest group was <30), the way my friend and I started itching like mad around the same time, wondering whether performers worry about the effect of peckzicatto on their instruments and the entertaining Nancia D'Alimonte's introductions to the pieces. She was riveting -- she would be a great host for a TV series about classical music. I was curious to what extent she scripted her introductions, because they were very well crafted, and when she lost her place, she seemed to pick up a precise thread, not a fuzzy one. Although they were certainly carefully planned,  the wooden quality nearly always found in scripted speech was absent, making me think they might not be completely scripted.

The first piece was Mozart Escapes the Museum (Peck), and the final piece was Bartok's unnamed Concerto for Orchestra. I enjoyed it and Signs of Life II much less than the first Peck piece, but that may have been due to the itchiness rather than the music. I'd hate to think I'm unable to appreciate the work of someone with the hair in this picture. 



Sunday, January 15, 2012

More strange birds

The eastern rivers of Virginia are apparently a gathering place for funny-headed birds. After yesterday's kingfishers, today I saw two types of mergansers. The flock of 14 red-breasted mergansers dove for long times and distances. I only saw one pair of hooded mergansers, but they are even stranger looking to me. The bright white on the side of the male's head is quite striking, and the halo of brown on the female's is also intriguing.

The red-breasted merganser:

by Hilary Chambers via Flickr

The hooded merganser:

by Mr. T in DC via Flickr

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Slate breaks my brain

I caught earworms from Slate podcasts today.

Vulture capitalist - It's catchy. Having spent so much time hearing about venture capitalists in silly valley, I am particularly entertained. And, according to the first definition I could find (Investopedia), that's the genesis of the term. I wonder if its application to "agents of creative destruction" signals the breakdown of the support of conservative poor for the financial agenda of the conservative rich (i.e. if presidential candidate Rick Perry believes that breakdown is possible and wants to exploit it by criticizing Mit Romney of being an ally of the wealthy and not the poor).

Brainsicles - A brain on a stick, someone who is unaware or indifferent to their body.

Female belted kingfisher


I saw a belted kingfisher in the late afternoon today on the Chesapeake Bay. I didn't get a photo, but she was kind enough to stay in place for a while. Apparently only the females have the brown on the chest. The mohawk on the one I saw was pretty dramatic, and her head was black all over. Very cool. Photo by Len Blumin

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Surprised by fowl longevity

Banding studies show that many species of ducks and geese live to be twenty years old.

http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/species/waterfowl/index.htm