Saturday, May 28, 2005

Nothing is free...

..let alone knowledge. I spent some time trying to find old sewing machine manuals for my mother's old Kenmore sewing machine, and it looks like someone has scooped up that money making activity and insured that people must pay to view these out of print materials. I can't ask my mom to help with this because she's gone... out of the country for the next few weeks.

More, I've noticed that the m-w.com thesaurus doesn't have as rich a selection of words for entries as it once did. It figures now, that I've packed away my crumbling 1000 page word-finder in an attic box because I thought I could escape the need of using a paper copy. Looks like this was a short-sighted move on my part. Need to pull down the attic ladder and find it before it dissolves into dust. I noticed too that my former resource the PC Encylopedia has become pregnant with links to sites that sell software I don't need, and it takes me twice as long to find the answers to my questions.

Not long ago, I thanked my lucky stars that the internet was a place where I could ask many a question and get it answered. It was my genie or magic question box. Now, the genie has become a brillo creamed traveling flim flam artist flashing pictures of elongated weiner dogs or pigs promising me that I can get a $170K house mortgage with a $765 monthly payment (most likely with a shitty 3 year ARM that will result in a monthly payment increase of several hundred dollars after the expiration date). Fuck 'em! Fuck 'em all.

The internet has become ripe with crappy penile dysfunction ads and pop-ups pushing family tree research. As a child when I was growing up it seemed that the geneology thing was a sort of crutch for those people who felt that inadequate about their accomplishments or insecure about who they were. My family, I'm sure I came from a long line of pig-shit shovellers, but you know what... who fucking cares? It's what you do with your life not your past.

What's next? Will people now pay for ad free resources just as people pay for cable television to view (supposedly) high caliber television programming? Or will we just have to remain patient and sift through the countless marketing ploys and flashing pop ups to get the nuggets of information that we need?

Does anyone out there have a link to a decent on-line thesaurus?

Am I alone here in thinking that knowledge and the tools which facilitate the gathering of it should be FREE goddamnit!

I'm working on re-writing a promotional brochure for someone. Hopefully honing my skills for doing something else. I will confess that that last job interview didn't turn out to be as great a success that I wanted it to be. I have the rough skills needed for the job, but I don't have the benefit of experience, but to be honest, it felt wonderful interviewing for another job. When I was asked why I wanted to leave my current position... I had to choke back the urge to blurt out, "Because I don't want to work for a company run by complete and utter dorks who are out of touch with everything." The adulterer in me sees job hunting as a sort of clandestine activity not unlike dating when you're in a bad relationship or marriage. You might feel loved and attractive because they appear to want you. You might feel the energy and excitement from the initial interview and courting with resumes and cover letters, but when it comes down to the actual dates and coitus you realize, maybe this just isn't what I hoped it would be. Maybe I'm better off on my own for a while.

For the past month or so I've been scripting my exit interview in my head.

Friday, May 27, 2005

What the Fathers really meant?

You know I was just reading a note here by the breadchick about intolerance and hate fueled by religious fervor and then I suddenly though maybe that's why the founders of this country so wanted to insure the separation of church and state...

They were born of a heritage of religous wars that plagued Europe for hundreds of years. It's only natural that they viewed a utopia/government as being free of direct religious influence. Hello. Tell that to your fundy-insert-my-bible-and-religious-beliefs-in-your-law proponents.

Well, he's not the mustachio'ed individual I'd liken him to

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/27/AR2005052700374.html

Bush as Groucho offensive? I If anything this is a terrible offense to Groucho, may he rest in peace. How could you liken a retarded ape to a highly sophisticated and learned individual who brought joy and laughter to millions. I could think of another prominent figure of the past who I'd rather compare the other side of America's president to... and his mustache is much more sparse than Mr. Marx's. Though almost everything the press focuses on today seems like a staged and carefully thought out ploy from run away brides to fake Koran trashing stories.

Have you gotten there yet?
Trust no one in the media.


Of course using his picture in such a way for a school play poster does seem sophmoric. Public high school ironically is such a bad place for social commentary and expression. The irony lies in the fact that challenging authority is a normal part of becoming an adult. It's a bit sad really, because it's usually the youth of the nation who are more likely to question the status quo. I'm hopeful though, because youth tend to be adept at forming avenues to and for counter-culture outside of institutions. They do so in the music and art they create, and in the way they purchase and consume.

I believe that American culture, being prone to hyperbole and youth worship, often puts too much emphasis on the freshness of youth perspective and neglects the experience and savvy of older generations. In fact, our market economy is highly youth driven. Maybe the aging of the Boomers will change this perspective. It saddens me really that we remain terribly unsophisticated in our understanding and appreciation of what all generations can offer a culture.

Want a healthy does of disgruntlement and paranoia over the holiday weekend? Here are my picks to watch if you want to actually stay indoors this weekend.

3 pack of Fictional Stories about Media Culture:
The Long Game (Episode of Dr. Who 2005 series)
Network
How to Get Ahead in Advertising (Worried about boils?)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hawaiian Breakfast

Okay, I' m on the Big Island right now Kona side. We're staying in a bungalow with family and friends. I'm trying desperately to figure out a way to move here. Should I start a breakfast place? Though I know anything we do would be an uphill battle. So there's a live volcano here... who cares. I feel like living in the US right now is like living on a live volcano, though the virgins and saintly ones are all so polluted throwing them in might alleviate our annoyance and grief but then send the fire goddess spewing brimstone. Even before her deflowering Brittany might give the Goddess the trots. Might as well throw in a bunch of Texas Republicans, but probably would be better to feed her pallets of Hormel chili from Costco.

Wednessday Kona Breakfast Menu
Fried Spam
Scrambled Eggs
Pineapple Juice
Kona Coffee
Freshly cut Papaya with lime juice, sweetened with cane sugar
Hawaiian French Toast with Lilikoi Syrup and Macadamia Nuts

Hawaiian French Toast (for 2)
Four slices of Hawaiian Bread, use the rectangular loaf
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp dark rum
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
3/4 c. whole milk

Lightly toast the bread. Beat the eggs and milk, add the sugar and rum. Pour the custard in a deep plate and soak each piece of bread on each side. Fry in a griddle over medium high heat until browned and custard is cooked. Serve with freshly cut tropical fruit, syrup and macadamia nuts.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Soup the provides substance yet warms your heart

I actually adapted this from Ms. Stewart. Instead of fresh tomtatoes I use canned fireroasted. Instead of chicken I used Kosher ground turkey. Instead of lima beans I use shelled edamame. I also add about 1 1/2 c. of cooked and lightly salted barley and a couple of dashes of hot Hungarian paprika. The result was a wonderfully hearty and healthy soup that provided more than a modicum of comfort on a very nasty and rainy day. This is a very simple recipe that can be made at the beginning of the week. Like most soups it tastes the best after the 2nd or 3rd day.

1 1/2 lb package of kosher ground turkey
2 medium onions chopped
2 small green bell peppers chopped
2 tbsp grapeseed oil (olive oil will do as well)
1 tbsp French thyme ( 3 tbsp chopped fresh)
1 12 oz can whole fireroasted plum tomatoes
1 12 oz can diced fireroasted plum tomatoes
4 c. of organic chicken broth
1/4 c. worschestershire sauce
Sea salt (1/2 tsp) or more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
1 package frozen sweet corn
2 c. frozen shelled edamame
1 1/2 c. cooked, lightly salted barley
4 dashes (or more to taste) of hot Hungarian Paprika.

Over medium heat saute the onions and bell pepper in the oil until onions are almost translucent in a large thick-bottomed pot. Add the turkey and break up into smaller chunks. Salt and pepper and cook until cooked through. Add the tomatoes, broth, worchestershire sauce and thyme bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Raise the heat to medium low and add the corn, edamame and barley. Season with paprika and allow to cook for about 10 minutes more. Serve warm with crusts of whole wheat artisan bread.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Bearer of Olive Branches

So I have to fill out this informational questionnaire for the job I'm applying for, I've got it all done except for one question... Can you give an example of a time when you had to act as mediator to get two people to agree on something?

Uh... I prevented my mom from throwing a vase at my dad once when she was pissed at him. Does that count?

I've prevented or ameilorated countless conflicts between people, but usually I was one of those people. I'm hard pressed to come up with an example that I think is appropriate for this survey. I think I've done a job with the rest of the questions, and the answers to those just flowed out without a problem.

My policy usually when there's a conflict between two people is to let them duke it out or separate try to pull one of them away (usually the person I'm more famliar with) if it's severely uncomfortable or looks threatening. Let them cool off and come back and meet each other on calmer terms. I'm not a buttinsky, no sir. Maybe I'm not right for this job. I just can't think of any examples that are work related and aren't unprofessional, inappropriate or embarrassing to talk about.

Addendum:
I just sent out that questionnaire... here's mud in my eye!
By the way... Coffee Rocket cracks me up: http://coffeerocket.blogspot.com. I loved the Gerber Spill story... was rolling on rug in my office for a while there.... now I need to get back to work. Godsteeth it's allready 10:22 in the P.M.

CC:

I've noticed lately that people here have been copying everyone on e-mails, especially when they're pissed off or have issues with someone's actions. Perhaps they want to share their anger and frustration with others. I don't think there's been much openess around here in meetings. I see a lot of people agreeing to schedules that are unrealistic. I don't see as many people standing up in meetings and raising concerns or looking at universal impacts. As everyone telecommutes (which is a both a blessing and a curse) there's a tendency not to focus during meetings... multi-tasking becomes a way of life (because you can always hit mute). Lately, too upper management has been pushing us to reduce the detail in our status report down to the nubbins. It's coming from the very top down. I smell something wrong... something stinky... about all of this or maybe it's just a precusor to increased lack of productivity and lack of connection between workers. I wouldn't be surprised if they started curbing the work at home movement in half a years time.

Monday, May 09, 2005

I'm utterly infatuated...

I'm going to go off on a little Samurai Champloo fix here:

Okay, in my past I've gone for the smart-mouthed bad-boy... maybe the punk who get's thrown out of seedy clubs like the Satyricon (that dates me here in pDX) or the guy who just has that hint of aggression beneath his breath and manner when he walks into a bar. You're probably thinking... How could you, Imogene? That's so cliche.

I would have totally gone for the Mugen character and fallen completely in love with his abrasive and brusque and straighforward demeanor... but somehow, now, I'm more of a Jin girl:

http://www.madman.com.au/samuraichamploo/index2.html

I like the air of discipline, but yet still beneath all the training and seeming complacency Jin seems like a spirit who questions things and is not afraid to stand up for what he feels is right. He is quiet, and maybe a little disturbed in his lonliness, but when it comes down to the line, he's willing to take risks to learn and even conquer or win over his enemies.

I wouldn't base my idea of an ideal man on this guy... it's just a crush.

I'm a nut... how could I be infatuated with a cartoon character and at my age? :)

On a related note, I've been reading more about Musashi Minamoto the samurai martial arts master who wrote the Book of Five Rings a treatise on the philosophy of Bushido and the art of war... he said something that really struck a chord with me and how I've been feeling about my job and this whole corporate life:

As I see society, people make arts into commerical products. They even think of themselves as commodities, and also make implements for their commercial value. This attitude is like flowers compared with seeds: the flowers are more numerous than the seeds; there is more decoration than reality.

The seeds being the knowledge and skill needed to reproduce things of worth and beauty. He was refering to is disdain for the 'commericialization' of martial arts in his time; however, I feel that his words apply to the drive and need for quick products, quick fixes, fast push out to market driven by the corporate competitive mentality. Maybe I'm simplifying things here but if we don't focus on the honing of products and developing quality items in the end we'll be left with a lot of... crap. Maybe I'm overstepping my bounds, but I really think that there are enough people in this world who are hungry for things of real substance. They want more than just the shitty well-targeted and marketed movies that go straight to video and into some parent's DVD player as a form of kiddie opium. They want more than the plastic fascimilies of coconuts or tropical fish fashioned into dinner ware that can be tossed into a land-fill after a few months of use.

I believe that thoughtless consumerism is detrimental to the soul. I believe that creation of things of substance and beauty are the way of the future... not a thing of the past.

P.S.
I applied for a job outside of the company... with a smaller company, and have been called in for a preliminary interview.. but shhhhhhhhh... don't tell anyone. I may not get it. Who knows, but the hiring manger I spoke with seemed really receptive and happy to talk with me.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Folding Napkins

I was looking for a way to fold napkins for our Mothers Day brunch, and I found this excellent site called the International Guild of Professional Butlers. I can understand taking pride in caring for others and making things nice for them. Hopefully, those who are taken care of appreciate the time and care taken by their staff.

I settled on the "Rose:"

http://www.butlersguild.com/guests/napkin_folding/rose.html

I passed on the "Pope's Mitre" because it looked far too stiff and uptight. I actually found that it wasn't as easy as it looked, because cloth, of course, doesn't hold it's form and folds like paper. I wanted to achieve a sort of "spring" floral and garden theme. So I decorated the table with candles in different shades of green, and placed two potted clematis vines (which were gifts to the two wonderful moms attending) at either end of the table.

The two brothers brought the dishes* below :). It was a wonderful time. This is what I enjoy most about my family is that we always get together on occassions like these and share in good food and stories.

Menu:
Fresh fruit and yogurt parfaits drizzled with honey and cinnamon(used the excellent Greek yogurt)
Apricot glazed roasted pork-loin
Lemon asparagus
Barley and orzo pilaf
Cottage pancakes with lemon
Cucumber dill salad*
Grape and strawberry salad with red wine and balsamic vinegar*
Spinach and egg strata with fennel sausage*
Bellinis to drink

Saturday, May 07, 2005

You thought 30 was old...

Looks like 21 years is the target date for ending your life in Bryan Singer's re-make of Logan's Run. I guess this is yet another example of Hollywood pandering to that younger generation aged 12-18. I'd like to think that young people are smart enough to realize when they're being fed a whole load of crap. Who knows I keep hoping that they'll spew back most of this garbage.

I think many Americans are growing weary of the formulaic shit that the American Movie and Television Industry keeps on shovelling out like cartloads of foetid and tedious filler. How many CSI spin-offs can you release? How many faith-tinged family dramas where all the children and parents look so flawless that you'd swear that all of them down to the 12 year old had some expensive work done on them. They all involve casts who look as if they starved themselves on water and low-carb regimens. The fathers all look like semi-altered versions of Alan Thicke and all sport the same inane humor and personality, and don't get me started about the reality tv movement. I hopeful that this is on its way out the door. I've actually christened our television the "Shit Box."

I've been finding myself turning more to British shows and some Japanese and Korean films. I rented the first season of League of Gentleman not long ago. I found it disturbing at first, in the same way a normal person would find a marriage between Monty Python and David Lynch. Yet, it sort of grew on me as I became more involved in the lives of a middle-aged candy-pink lipstick wearing lesbian job counselor Pauline whose main counsel to her 'restart' students involved keeping an ample collection of pens or the suspiciously identical looking couple who run the shop catering only to the "Locals" who obsessed over finding a playmate and mate for the deformed son they kept hidden away in their backroom. It's peppered with all the things that we Americans find so distubing. In fact, it's a delightfully packaged grab bag of the things we still secretly obsess over via trashy docu-features on the eChannel: incest, transexuals, kinky sex, freakishly obsessive recluses.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Interesting Idea to deter theft... but

It would probably backfire on me.

http://applematters.com/index.php/section/comments/istain_the_ipod_theft_deterrent/

This brings back sad memories of things I've had stolen from me. I remember long ago I had this pair of antique glasses frames that were silver... octagonal shaped. They were super cool. I fell asleep in the library while I was studying (which I often did), and when I awoke they were gone. I looked everywhere, asked a friend to help me find them, but to no avail. You've got to understand that I'm basically Velma from Scoobydoo without my aids to vision. I had to call my roommate to bring my contacts to the library so I could figure out which bus to take home. I guess I could have asked someone to direct me, but I probably would have gotten off at the wrong stop.

I still think that the ipod theft deterrent is a pretty funny invention... says a lot about how that individual valued his music/i pod.

Okay...

This is just a 'little' disturbing... you have to admit. However, I believe that it is a sign of things to come.

http://www.the-dispatch.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050506/APN/505060896&cachetime=5


Also, I thought that PBS was sacred, but I guess not.
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2508

What really disturbs me about the first piece of news is that (assumedly) one's place of worship is a place where one can feel safe, loved and at home. But perhaps this is just too much to ask. Maybe I just have too inclusive a view when it comes to religion. That and the no birth control thing really pissed me off. Maybe it's too much to ask that there is a diety that loves or accepts us for who we are or who we vote for. But a friend of mine would remind me that that's the reason why God was invented... to make sure that people followed the rules of those who were in charge.

I consider myself to be shaped by Catholic values. Religion plays a formative and indelible role in our lives when we are young if we are raised within a religion. Even if we are not we learn moral codes and how to get along by the examples provided by our elders. The good memories I remember from the church of my childhood and adolescence were the times when we spent volunteering and helping others in the community. Somehow there are also hazy memories from when I was five or six of the image of the Virgin Mary as a figure who was loving and accepting, the typical archetype of motherhood. The Holy Mother is probably one of the most appealing and human face of the Catholic church. Her image is shrouded in mystery though most of the pr material developed around her was not put forth until the 20th century. Why wouldn't forsaken children see her apparition? They are looking for a motherly champion.

But where are any such images of compassion or acceptance in the action of religious excommunication? I believe that Christianity (before it was adopted by the ruling Romans) was appealing as an ideology to those Romans who were weary of the harshness of their social mores and the violence and dominance the Empire held over the world and its subjects. Early Christianity's appeal was built largely on it's doctrine of universal acceptance.

Looking at our past as a race of beings, the actions of that church in East Waynesville, North Carolina aren't new or unique to history. History in fact is replete with examples of groups excommunicating their members (sometimes murdering them) because they don't fit in. The other night after watching some documentary on how we kill off natural predators, I entertained the thought that maybe it's getting too crowded on this planet, and intolerance and violence are the manifestation of societal growing pains.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Forward this link to your manager

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/04/22/text.iq/index.html

I seriously feel like a babbling fool by the end of the day when I feel bombarded by requests or questions. Though this job I'm working in now doesn't require me to answer as many dumb questions as the one I came from. I have to say I don't get half as many assinine questions for pie charts that explain where and when I've spent my time. I believe that the nature and quality of questions asked by management and employees say something about the quality and direction of the group you work in.

Yesterday I nearly lost it when this woman who took over my old job sent me an e-mail asking me if it was really worth her time to take an additional web design class to update the courses I had built. I felt like e-mailing her and saying, "How should I know? I don't know how web retarded you are." But then again, she asks me questions again and again about how to fix the MS Access form and she simply doesn't absorb the concept of a primary or unique key (value) or the difference between a one to many relationship and a many to many relationship (and how this impacts the data that can be retrieve from a relational database) despite the fact that I explained these things several times. She still asks questions like, "Well, I don't understand why you can't make it do something like this...?" Maybe she has a future in management.

Though I doubt it. She seems to be one of those people, one of those ladies who makes up for her work by doing more of it rather than working smart and automating things, she seems to be one of those people who feels more secure when the print out every single e-mail instead of filing them or making a value judgement and chucking them in the delete bucket when necessary. I've made it a policy now to answer questions only once as I'm only enabling her if I continue to do so.

My former supervisor treated us both out to lunch a few months ago. Originally, I suspected that the reason why she wanted to bring us together was so that Ms. Thing could 'pick my brain' or more or less leech on to my head and suck it out (not that it would make such a good meal to begin with). However, I realize now that she may have been stroking the woman's nervous nature and coaxing her to ask more questions because she was naturally intimidated by technical things. She had a sort of nervous twinge about her, there was a look in her eye that insinuated fear and subservience. If she were a smoker she would have been much thinner, but it was apparent that she self-medicated with fast food and beanie babies.

I'm no whiz at these technical things myself but part of me felt repulsed by her. Why do I feel so disgusted by this? Shouldn't I be more sympathetic? I hardly qualify as a gen y technorati. Lately, I've been feeling challenged myself because I've become so bogged down by the drudgery of my own job, the volume and the dry content of the subject matter I work with, that I haven't felt as great an urge to innovate, explore, and learn about new things. When I do, I feel guilty that I took the time to do research on things because I cannot calculate the "Return on Investment" for the time I spent on looking them up. Is this the hand of corporate guilt upon me? At the beginning of the year I was making an effort to do more research on Usability and designing learning systems with metadata systems that evolve in a more controlled or predicatable way, as I wanted to make an effort to share skills and knowledge with my group about how to design things for lower impact and better use. However, as I scrolled through course after course of documentation which is signature to our grouop and more it seemed to be out there just for documentation's sake, and I saw monthly status reports from my co-workers which constantly highlighted the 'number' of tools and interventions they delivered rather than the quality or output or outcome. I realized that my efforts and words might fall on partially deaf ears, and maybe it would be better to search for greener pastures. Crunch, crunch, crunch... the cows here feed primarily on numbers.



Questions about your PC? Networking? Primary Keys? Go here:
http://www.webopedia.com/
Honestly, this site isn't as good as it was two years ago. Too many ads now.

Better and illustrated explanation of relational databases:
http://www.creative-wisdom.com/computer/FMP/relational.shtml