Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Random Contest

So lately I have been Mr. Super Productive at work, banging out curricula, posters and e-mails like nobody's business. Plus I had attendance at my class yesterday and I got to help a lot of people. Go me!

Most of my work has been geared towards our e-waste project, because it's finally bearing its first fruit! This upcoming Saturday is Cinqo de Mayo (which I think I mentioned already...) so we've been getting geared up for that, and our PSA is finally starting to take form. Today we had another meeting with our ally from SPNN and made a lot of good progress. In particular I rocked it with the results of my big search for stock footage, photos and music yesterday. It all costs money, and we aren't exactly made out of that, but it's definitely affordable and within reach.

So, this brings me to my random request. One of my objectives is to find a ravine filled with electronic waste (i.e. broken computers, tvs, monitors, etc.). It could be a ditch, or even a field or wood, but we need some pictures of this for our PSA. So, if any of you happen to see such a thing and either tell me where it is so I can take a pic of it or, even better, you take some pictures of it yourself and send it to me, I can promise a prize in your future. Caveats include not having put it there yourself, so you can scratch that option right off.

Some additional targets of opportunity if you find yourself immensely bored:
- stock music appropriate to a kitchen scene in a sitcom. Check out istock, revostock or the music bakery for things of this nature.
- stock footage involving e-waste. We got some great clips of a tv being tossed out of a truck in slow-mo, but it's always nice to have more.

Additional prizes will be given to people who complete these secondary objectives as well, probably of the yummy variety.

Until next time...

"When we do not know a person--and also when we do--we have to judge his size by the size and nature of his achievements, as compared with the achievements of others in his special line of business--there is no other way."
- Christian Science, by Mark Twain

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cool Links

It's a rainy Sunday here, so I'm just surfing the web and getting a bit of work done. I decided to skip Church today to offer milady a ride to one of her meetings; figured it was the more Christian thing to do. Quick aside- if you're into 40k, check out Defending Humanity if you haven't already. I have a poll up deciding which units I should use in my next couple of battles and a few battle reports.

Yesterday was fairly lopsided. In the beginning of the day I had work as always. The kids have discovered that they can come into my lab starting at 10, and so they do. Therefore I had a lot of wrangling in addition to my price quoting binge, which was ok. Then my student was late as usual and we only got halfway through the lesson. Need to really work on that...

In the evening we had Russell, Aaron and Kristin over and we played an exceedingly cutthroat game of Monopoly and some Boggle. Apparently Caroline has always played with the rule that if you land on somebody's space they have until the next person rolls to ask for rent. This led to a lot of rent not being paid, mostly due to the huge amount of negotiation that was going on. Deals were being bandied back and forth all game, with subtle threats and occasional blatant favoritism ruling the day. Huge sums of money were exchanged for monopolies which quickly grew to game dominating size, but were then sold off to avoid losing. It actually made Monopoly fun and fast paced- you needed to pay attention, there was plenty of backstabbing and dirty dealing... just like corporate America is supposed to be.

I lost first and got to painting more Warhammer models, and later got sucked into Boggle, which is a much tougher game than I first thought. It's surprising how incredibly simple and easy to spot words can be passed over completely simply based on where you are sitting/what letters you are paying attention to. The best strategy I have found is going for larger words, as fewer people find those and they are worth double points at least. That's how I won one round even though I found maybe half the words that everyone else found.

Anyway, I thought that I would share a couple of cool links that I have uncovered over the last couple of weeks. Pretty good timewasters, and occasionally even entertaining/enlightening, at least in my humble opinion.

First up is 365 Tomorrows, a collection of daily speculative short fiction on what the future might hold. Many very interesting looks at the land of tomorrow, especially those that look at it from decidedly alien viewpoints. Never longer than a page and a half and you get a new one every day.

Next up: webcomic called Heroes Inc. Alternate present where superheroes have existed since WWII and how seriously changed the world has become because of it. Interesting beginnings of a story, and pretty cool backstory as it looks at the proliferation of superpowers from a realistic point of view.

The rules for every single card game in existence can be found here. Found a lot of interesting variants on Euchre, as well as a plethora of two and three player games for those times that you just can't round up four people.

Until next time...

"The rain is famous for falling on the just and unjust alike, but if I had the management of such affairs I would rain softly and sweetly on the just, but if I caught a sample of the unjust out doors I would drown him."
- quoted in My Father Mark Twain, Clara Clemens

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kids do the Darndest Things

Thursday was just one of those days where explaining the concept of "fairness" to 2nd graders was the easiest part of the day. Most of my day was taken up with meetings. The first meeting was with IT trying to get me limited admin rights. Unfortunately my technical background is fairly nonexistent and they are running in some new programs, so that was denied. As a consolation prize I might be able to get some in depth training with IT at some point/ be their guinea pig, but it was still a bit of a let down. Then I was trying to wrangle printing companies into giving me quotes for how much it would cost to get 500 flyers printed for our e-waste booth at Cinqo de Mayo. Only a handful have answered me so far which is fairly annoying.

Then we had open lab, the time of week that I always look forward to with joy. Tons of kids, teens and adults all in the same room demanding computers. I've managed to deal with this type of situation well, but the formula gets complicated when we introduce the concept of returners. Basically I will allow kids to reup their time by doing math games, and if they beat a math game they also get a cookie. This has been a wildly popular program, as you may be able tell, and I had 5 kids trying to get back into the lab for about an hour. All in all this combined to make the entire experience a... special one.

Some highlights from the lab:
- a kindergartner (who is too young by one year to get into the lab) attempting to forge a pass from the homework center so he would appear to be a first grader
- explaining how my policies are actually fair to 2nd graders, then getting complained at because it wasn't fair in their direction
- two kids making a huge poster in the middle of the lab, creating an island people had to walk around but that I couldn't get rid of because it was the first time I had definitely seen them do work all year
- a 1st grader singing "I wanna make love right naw naw naw" over and over again
- two other kindergartners wandering into the lab at 10 minute intervals asking "Is the computer lab open? Can kids come in?" and forgetting my answer every time
- an in depth discussion on iron on shirt designs with one of the teens

Until next time...

"The proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really true. I know because I have tested it."
- Autobiography of Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meyers-Briggs Personality Test

I was just sent a link to take this test from one of my supervisors because of the very similar activity we did last Friday at the Science Museum. I thought it might be fun to share my scores with y'all. So, here we go:
Your Type is
Strength of the preferences %

All Rationals are good at planning operations, but Masterminds are head and shoulders above all the rest in contingency planning. Complex operations involve many steps or stages, one following another in a necessary progression, and Masterminds are naturally able to grasp how each one leads to the next, and to prepare alternatives for difficulties that are likely to arise any step of the way. Trying to anticipate every contingency, Masterminds never set off on their current project without a Plan A firmly in mind, but they are always prepared to switch to Plan B or C or D if need be.

Masterminds are rare, comprising no more than, say, one percent of the population, and they are rarely encountered outside their office, factory, school, or laboratory. Although they are highly capable leaders, Masterminds are not at all eager to take command, preferring to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead. Once they take charge, however, they are thoroughgoing pragmatists. Masterminds are certain that efficiency is indispensable in a well-run organization, and if they encounter inefficiency-any waste of human and material resources-they are quick to realign operations and reassign personnel. Masterminds do not feel bound by established rules and procedures, and traditional authority does not impress them, nor do slogans or catchwords. Only ideas that make sense to them are adopted; those that don't, aren't, no matter who thought of them. Remember, their aim is always maximum efficiency.

In their careers, Masterminds usually rise to positions of responsibility, for they work long and hard and are dedicated in their pursuit of goals, sparing neither their own time and effort nor that of their colleagues and employees. Problem-solving is highly stimulating to Masterminds, who love responding to tangled systems that require careful sorting out. Ordinarily, they verbalize the positive and avoid comments of a negative nature; they are more interested in moving an organization forward than dwelling on mistakes of the past.

Masterminds tend to be much more definite and self-confident than other Rationals, having usually developed a very strong will. Decisions come easily to them; in fact, they can hardly rest until they have things settled and decided. But before they decide anything, they must do the research. Masterminds are highly theoretical, but they insist on looking at all available data before they embrace an idea, and they are suspicious of any statement that is based on shoddy research, or that is not checked against reality.

Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Ulysses S. Grant, Frideriche Nietsche, Niels Bohr, Peter the Great, Stephen Hawking, John Maynard Keynes, Lise Meitner, Ayn Rand and Sir Isaac Newton are examples of Rational Masterminds.

A full description of the Mastermind and Rational is in People Patterns or Please Understand Me II

Until next time...

"Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody."
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar by Mark Twain

Monday, April 20, 2009

Finding the Faithful Fun

Today I went back to the church that I went to on Easter, and it was well worth getting up early-ish (well, at least for a Sunday). The service was billed as a jazz service, and that was definitely true. The jazz band that the church uses as its musicians was in top form, and the songs were all the familiar tunes that I was used to but presented in a very fun way. Everyone was again very friendly and open, and Pastor Jen even remembered my name from last week.

There were a lot of really cool things that the congregation did that now seem extremely plain to see. For instance, after the sermon the pastor opened the floor up for debate about the passage and the sermon on it. There was a lot of good discussion, and it shed some really interesting slants on the different parts of the reading. Another would be offering one another peace at the beginning of the service rather than in the middle. It seemed to start the service off on the right foot, with everyone smiling and offering God's peace right at the onset. They also seem to have kids' sermons every service, and the great part is that a) it doesn't take much time, and b) it takes the service into territory that is not always associated with church. For instance, this time the focus was on recycling as we are supposed to be stewards of the Earth.

All in all, a lot of cool stuff is going on there, and I'm definitely going back next week. It feels good to be going to church again- I've been feeling a little adrift spiritually, and having a place to go and worship every Sunday and actually enjoy it is a nice anchor.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Science! and the MDT

Friday did not start off well. I missed the first bus to the Science Museum (where my Corps Day was being held) and had to wait half an hour for another one to arrive. There I got sucked into conversation with what I assume was a Vietnam airborn vet. He was a kind of weirdly interesting guy, and our conversation covered his colored opinions on the rescue operation vs the Somali pirates, the economy, and a lengthy dissertation on the miraculous powers of dogs.

So I showed up to my corps day about 10 minutes late and we did an assortment of random activities that were intended to show us how team building with kids works, as well as how the Design Team does its work (the Design Team being middle and high school kids who use inventive engineering to solve clients' problems- actually a really cool program that I really wanted to lead next year, but oh well). These activities included dividing the group into four using a consistent algorithm, placing other people in our groups on an x-y plot of the Meyers-Briggs personality test, and using damp sponges to play music on a computer. I was also introduced to Make magazine, which looks really, really cool. Basically it's a collection of DIY tech projects that look both fun and occasionally feasible for me to do. I may have to get a subscription... *marks down one more expense on the list*

After this we were given free reign to wander about he museum and go to an IMAX movie. I went to Super Speedway, which was about everyone's favorite palindrome. It was very pretty and motion sick inducing, as all IMAX movies are. My group then wandered about the museum, stopping in at the Science of Fear and the Water exhibits. The fear one was pretty cool- they had a bunch of different booths set up that asked you to do something to rate how afraid you are of things. These included sticking your hand in an enclosed drawer that may or may not contain creepy crawlies, putting your finger on an electrode and waiting for an electric shock, hearing creepy music followed by a gun shot and being strapped to a table that falls quickly to the floor. The first one actually generated a visceral reaction in me, while the others... not so much. Still, they had lots of cool stuff and facts there. The water exhibit was a little less interesting, but they still had cool factoids about dams, wave power and how much water it takes to create various things.

I then missed my bus again and was late for Manly Drinking Time with Russell and Pechous. Still, we had a pretty good time. We went out to the Peanut Bar under Williams and had well whiskey shots and a liter of Schell Maifest apiece (mmmm...). Pechous then had to bail, but Russell and I stuck around, then headed home for more beer and yet another shot of whiskey. It was a good time- we got to talk, drink, watch 28 Days Later and drunkenly attempt to play Heroes 5 and fail miserably. A pretty good night, I should say.

Until next time...

"The scientist. He will spend thirty years in building up a mountain range of facts with the intent to prove a certain theory; then he is so happy in his achievement that as a rule he overlooks the main chief fact of all--that his accumulation proves an entirely different thing."
- "The Bee" essay by Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just went through the blog and posted tags on everything, so if you ever have an insane desire to look up one of my posts you can find it just a little bit easier.

Plus I'm a bit OCD. But you knew that already.

Ave Imperator

New 40k centric blog DEFENDING HUMANITY is now up and running.Go and check out the progress I'm making with my army, battle reports and various musings on the game in general.

Monday, April 13, 2009


This past Sunday was the day our Lord rose from the grave, and it was pretty awesome. First I got up and walked to a church service. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the day was verging on being hot. The service I was going to was being held in Intermedia Arts, a kind of art collective that has fallen on hard times recently. The space was very impressive, and I loved what the congregation had done to set up the worship room. I showed up about half an hour early and therefore got to talk with a lot of the congregation and the pastor. This, plus the actual service convinced me that I needed to go to church more often.

The service was incredibly cute- they had a jazz band playing for the instrumentals, the congregation was all friendly, they had an active youth group, and the little kids were adorable. Case in point was the kids' sermon that the pastor gave. Apparently at the beginning of Lent the kids had taken little pieces of paper with the word "Hallelujah" written on them and put them in a box, as Christians are not supposed to say Hallelujah during Lent (Jesus' death being a sad time and all that noone should be overjoyed and praising. Yay guilt!). So, on Easter they opened the box again and took out the pieces of paper and handed them out to the congregation members while we sang Hallelujah. This plus the general friendliness of the group made me feel very welcome. Apparently they have a jazz service at 10:30 on Sundays which I think I'll try to attend in the future.

After the service I hardboiled some eggs and then went to lunch with Rachel, her mom, her mom's friend Jan and her daughter. We ate at this place called Ecopolitan, where the gimmick is that everything is raw and vegan. So there were a lot of buckwheat and almond "cheese" on things, and the smoothies were necessarily delicious. Service was a bit slow, and the prices were a little high, but otherwise it was a pretty enjoyable place to grab a bite to eat.

Then it was time for egg dying! Kristin and Becky came over at 2 to do this with me, Jason and Caroline. We had a lot of fun and made some very pretty eggs.

Then it was cooking time for me. Rachel proved to be a very able sous chef and helped whip together a 10 pound ham with pineapples, kartoffelsalad, mashed sweet potatoes, a salad, peppers, ants on a log, and two loaves of bread. Cooking was a lot of fun, and it seems like lots of people enjoyed it. Teagle also showed off her skillz by bringing a "butter lamb" and a Jesus-bunny cake. We had a very successful egg hunt, and then served dinner for 13 people. Pics below.

All in all, it was a very good evening, and I'd love to do it again sometime. I just really like hosting people and cooking food for a big group (well, as long as I'm not rushed). Happy Easter!

Until next time...

"Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink- under any circumstances."
- Mark Twain's Notebook

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Victory In Our Time

So, I return the blog triumphant! The foul GRE has been slain, my computer has been restored to me, and the geekiness has begun to flow once again as water. Life is good.

The GRE: The couple of nights before it I couldn't get sleep to save my life, so I thanked the Lord on High for allowing me 10 hours the night before the test. I showed up to the test bright and early along with all of the other test takers, only to find out that a) the place we were supposed to take the test was huge, and b) there were no indications as to where the test was to take place. We panicked for a little bit, but eventually the proctors showed up and we were able to find our rooms. I was a bit nervous at first, but as I got into the test everything became calm. Sure I didn't know how to answer some of the questions, and I had to guess on quite a few, but they were educated guesses and I knew how to do many others. So I left the test thinking that I at least did well enough to get into grad school, and really that's the point, now isn't it?

Life after the GRE has been beautiful. I got pleasantly smashed throughout Saturday afternoon and evening, and on Sunday Rach and I got to go do a reading of Teagle's new work, "Pain in the Neck." The play is about a bisexual and lesbian girl in a relationship, their problems, and the maybe-vampire that is preying on one of them. There were some pretty tripped out fairy-tale sequences, a Co-op employee who is probably a superhero in her time off, and plenty of that classically witty Teagle dialogue. It had some problems, but for a first attempt it was pretty damn brilliant. Good job Teagler.

I've also begun falling into the black hole of geekiness and money that is Warhammer 40k- damn you Pechous! I've assembled my first box of Imperial Guard (men with flak vests and flashlights vs untold horrors from beyond time and space- go Joe!) and am eagerly awaiting a Poorly Planned Purchase that I made on eBay the night before the test (I was REALLY exhausted that night and impulse purchases of several hundred dollars seemed to calm me down... thank God I didn't win more than one auction). I will probably be starting another blog detailing my adventures in painting and battling with my army, so you won't have to worry about too much of that stuff filling up the hallowed pages of this blog (I mean, there's not a lot of geeky stuff in here, right? Right.). Suffice to say that I am having far too much fun posing my little men and am very excited about fielding a fully painted and built force in a couple of weeks.

Also, my new RPG campaign is going to start up towards the end of this month. Once again, there is another site where you will be able to follow on that vein if you wish called Obsidian Portal. It's an awesome site that allows me to organize everything for an rpg and present as much as I want to to my players. I had a tremendous burst of productivity on it at work because...

Work:... all of the computers at my company are down! Noone can log in, so we are all using my lab computers/laptops to survive. Unfortunately most of my completed work is on my compy, so I used this as an excuse to avoid work until the system is back up again. It's kind of hilarious actually, because the only computers that work in our entire multi-state company are the computers in the residential computer labs. Apparently IT is trying to fix the problem right now, but seeing their past progress I'd say they have a while before it gets fixed. Oh well, plenty of time for me to catch up on all of the stuff that I've missed since the GRE started. And besides, for most of my stuff I don't need any prep- an internet connection is enough to get my students all in a row and signed up for their programs. I'll do a post a bit later on the cool new programs that I'm doing nowadays.

And one final note for now, as I'm getting a bit tired of typing: it's BEAUTIFUL outside! It's been 50s for a week now, and next week it's supposed to be 60s! Man Alive I am excited for Spring! Speaking of which, watch out for an extra-special Easter post: there's going to be a lot of fun happening on Sunday!

Until next time...

"The perfection of wisdom, and the end of true philosophy is to proportion our wants to our possessions, our ambitions to our capacities, we will then be a happy and a virtuous people."
- "The Enemy Conquered; or, Love Triumphant" by Mark Twain