Tuesday, March 28, 2006

the rain is my fault

i washed mac sunday

Charity work

Caltech is organizing a "make a difference day." One of the opportunities is:
Join our team to work in the outdoors planting
trees in urban areas in order to enhance green
space in the city environment. Project sites
include North East Trees and the city of San
Marino. Expected project duration: 5 - 8 hours.
This amuses me because San Marino can certainly afford to pay people to plant their trees. As the Los Angeles Times says, "Money and San Marino are practically synonymous." Sure, civic involvement benefits communities from tent cities to palaces. Nevertheless, I think I'd be more likely to choose a different option.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

snort snore kick cry

On my flight from DC to LA, we were about to take off when the pilot announced we were over weight. We had to sit on the ground and burn fuel for 10 minutes before we were legal for takeoff.

The woman next to me was sucking snot back into her nose about 5 times per minute. It was so amazing that I started keeping stats on it. About two snorts per minute were really loud. I estimated that they could be heard two rows away during the flight.

The guy on my right was enormous and snoring. I was on JetBlue, and every time I changed the volume (which was every time an ad came on), I had to maneuver around his arm on the arm rest.

There was a small kid behind me crying and kicking my seat. The best 10 minutes I ever spent were buying ear plugs the morning of the flight.

I've found that my tolerance for annoyance has radically decreased lately, an emotional barometer.

Dooce rules again

I really like Dooce. Of course, I think someone who is supporting her family with her blogging efforts should blog more often, and that has
nothing to do with wanting to read more posts. But my point, and I do have one, is that she recently posted an adorable clip to YouTube.


i finally sold my scout. i loved it, but i haven't driven it hardly at all since i got a car with a roof and insulation and a fan (not to mention air conditioning, easy stopping, and a reliable radio). i've been trying to sell it for a while. i sold it to an enthusiastic guy, young, charming, who rides the bus to work. perfect.

Live with a light heart

I spent a very sad week this week. And it's not over. Recent advice from the one who is about to live no more: "live with a light heart." I think it's a good idea. I'll only be able to practice it in moderation for now. Posted by Picasa

Palms, fresh from the store

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...and close up
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Monday, March 20, 2006

walton gets the fun roles

i've been watching The Shield a lot lately. Walton Goggins plays Shane, a sleazy hick, rarely redeemed. The actor must enjoy when the writers send Shane undercover. In the picture, Shane is a undercover as a rural cock-fighting Southerner. Shane nearly blows his assignment due to his grief over his failed rooster though. In another episode, homophobic Shane poses as a gay hustler and finds himself bonding over engine modifications with the gay boys. It's more campy than the show usually plays it. The show has enough gravitas to support a few campy moments. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 18, 2006

if your dad has to say you're tough...

Daniel Craig, the next James Bond, gets props from his dad in response to rumors that he is afraid of speed boats and can't drive automatic transmission cars (from digital spy).
Daniel is a hard lad - you wouldn't want to meet him in a dark street. Is he a wimp? No, I wouldn't like to call him that to his face. As for the idea he doesn't like guns - when he was younger he would play with a toy gun like any other boy.
with apologies to my sister C who originally said "if you're mom has to say you're cool..."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Do you know rockabilly?

There are lovely things about working with people for whom English isn't their first language. One is the serendipitous word play. I've picked up the habit of saying "Do you know [x]?" Today I had the opportunity to ask someone if he knew rockabilly. Can you really know rockabilly? What does it mean to know rockabilly?

Now that I think about it, I'm sure there's some KCRW (music freak public radio) dj who knows rockabilly, but among us mortals, it may be unknowable.

Today I am just trying to know this article, entitled "A brain-specific microRNA regulates dendritic spine development." That I can know.

p.s. dolface, sorry about the italics. actually, i ended up taking them out because i decided i really don't need them. like scare quotes, rarely necessary.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why grad school sucks

I'm in the doldrums. My experiment isn't working. I've got a couple more tweaks to do, but it may just not work. There are other things to do after the post-mortem, but I've now got more empathy for those who suffer in grad school.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Skiing in Los Angeles

After lots of wine Saturday night, I got up at 6am Sunday to get to the nearest skiing, Mountain High. Unfortunately lots of other Angelenos had the same idea, and I spent several hours in crowd-created snarls: traffic, ski equipment rental, lift lines. Nevertheless, I had a good time. Posted by Picasa

Snow in Los Angeles

Close at least. I shot this picture a couple blocks from my house. I've never see the snow line this low. Posted by Picasa

google maps goes interplanetary


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Richard Russo's Straight Man

I don't remember where I came across the recommendation, but somewhere (online, I think) I read a recommendation for Richard Russo's novel Straight Man. I haven't read anything else by him and don't know anything about him. I loved this book.

This book has many enjoyable aspects: it weaves a bunch of different storylines together in a soap-opera way that is sheer fluffy delight, and much of the dialog is hilarious, as are many of the situations. However it manages to also cover heartbreaking topics as well. The light touch on even those topics is in part a function of the narrator’s lack of self-knowledge; his motives are inscrutable to himself. I'm a sucker for that type of story. I think I like it because it draws the reader in by making her try to deduce the motives, and also because I don't believe people's motives are as concrete as we like to think they are. Generally I'm a sucker for underwritten books and movies; it's unusual to find that kind of book (or movie) that is also fast paced and highly entertaining.

I was thinking about the women characters in the book, thinking that they were not particularly fleshed out, and all of them are described only in relation to the narcissistic, middle-aged, male protagonist's desires. The male characters are slightly more substantial. Instead of bothering me, this pattern of characterization seemed to be a further description of the protagonist: he is hopelessly self-absorbed and contrary.

I read the hard cover edition (pictured left) with the goose on the cover. I spent the first part of the book wondering why there was a goose on the cover, and the rest thinking it was the cleverest cover ever.

I'm sure another reason I loved this book is because it satirizes academia. Some of the machinations are not so different from Caltech, but mostly it reminds me of studying critical theory as an undergrad. I was completely seduced by this material, and have lately started to pick up small bits of it again. As a companion to this book, I'm also reading The Best of Lingua Franca, which is side-splitting but dependent on theory-geek humor.

As I read back over this, I realize that I haven't made the book sound very appealing. Never you mind that. Go read it.