Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 Recap

Everyone else is doing this, so I may as well -- although, for me, the beginning of the new year is late August, since that's when the school year begins. Next year I shall do the end of the year retrospective in August.

January 2005: Woke up one day and decided I should buy a house. (Well, I'd been going to open houses and looking online for a couple of years, but one day I just woke up and said, I should do this NOW.) Also, our beloved admin assoc. at work, Joe_G found a job that actually will be a challenge for him. We were so sad to see him leave, but it was a good move for him, and he quickly got a promotion.

February 2005: Found our Tejas Trl house
March 2005: Closed on T Trl house
April 2005: Moved to T Trl -- yes, we took the whole month to move
May 2005: Started to unpack. A work still in progress

June, July 2005: Freshman and Transfer Orientation. Need I say more?
August 2005: August in Austin. Yecchh. Actually, it wasn't too bad this year. Sometime during the summer, a bondage crew moved in up the street and started throwing sex parties. (without giving us an invitation, hmpf!) (This is covered in other posts -- look for "Suspicious Activity on Tejas Trl" -- in September, I think.)

September 2005: We were burgled!
October 2005: Detective Tate and crew solve the case, catch the bad guys, and we get our stuff back!

November 2005: Go to Ft. Worth to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with the inlaws.
December 2005: Scott got to stay in Austin for 2 weeks; however, we spend most of one week sick. The rest of the time was spent assembling the new Ikea bookcases for the "Room of Music and Contemplation". For once in our lives we will have enough bookshelf space -- and bookshelves that won't sag from the overload, etc.

Things that didn't happen? Well, I didn't get "Facebook Married", although I did find out what it is. -- in the words of one of my students in response to my shock at her sudden nuptials: "I got facebook married. It just means you post up that you're married to one of your friends or whoever says they'll do it... it's just something funny."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Postcard Update: Praha

Whenever someone I know goes somewhere, I bug them to send me a postcard. Since winter break is a time when a lot of my victims are traveling, I shall be updating you with my latest acquisitions.

Received 12/05: A cat postcard from Tina in Praha (That's Prague, Czech Republic). (Art, not photo) A funny yellow cat is driving a blue convertible through Praha. (click gallery on the left, then look for design #60) (link to the artist). (I found Tina through the UT Cat Club on Facebook. My stalking in the pursuit of postcards knows no bounds.)

Here is some of what Tina wrote on the postcard:

Yay for cats & postcards & mail! This postcard is full of lies, however because there are
A. no cats &
B. no cars with cats in Praha.

When were you in the Czech Republic?

Mluvis Cesky? Tak

Tak Nashledarou a vesel varule!"

Note, I don't have the diacritical marks in the right places (HA -- I have NO diacritical marks!), and I don't know that I got all the letters in the Czech correct, so if you know Czech, I would appreciate corrections. (and a translation, perhaps?)

Well, as the holiday progresses, I'll try to post some more postcard commentaries. (Who knows, perhaps YOUR postcard will be reviewed here?!)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Little Things to do to Make Life More Interesting/Exciting

From time to time I will post little things you can do to make life more interesting/exciting.

Today's idea:

When you go to an ATM, choose Spanish for the transaction language. (Or perhaps French if you are living in a far north state such as Vermont.)

I do this whenever I am bored, and believe me, this will put you on your toes!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bad Kitchen Feng Shui

(Disclaimer: I am a sciencey-type girl, and I don't go in for all this new-age woo-woo, but this kitchen DOES have bad feng shui!) (and this picture was taken before we bought the house, so the furnishings are not ours.)

First of all, we're not wild about the color -- blue and white striped wallpaper? blue formica countertops? Well, the floor tiles are o.k. The wallpaper is something easily remedied -- the countertops a little less so. The skylight makes the room a lot brighter, and S. put up a cool pot rack.

We do like all of the counter space and cabinets -- there are even more cabinets and counter space in the upper right of the picture, to the right of the door that is part way open. The cabinet doors do have European hinges, which are nice -- the finish isn't what I would have chosen, but it is something I can live with. That ceiling fan has got to go -- either to be replaced by just a light, or a more streamlined design -- something that doesn't scream "Kountry".

The thing that is really poorly designed is the kitchen island -- correction, this is not an island -- it is more technically a kitchen peninsula, since it is attached on one side by an isthmus to a cabinet and another counter strip -- a true island would be completely surrounded by water, or in the case of a kitchen, flooring. (you can see the isthmus on the left side of this photo.)

The peninsula is too wide, for one thing. The peninsula impedes the flow of traffic from the dining area to the "cave" (more on the cave in another post). If it were 6 inches or so narrower, you wouldn't have that problem. The dishwasher is in the island, but when you open the dishwasher door, it almost touches the refrigerator -- you can't stand directly in front of the dishwasher to load it. And you can't have the dishwasher and the refrigerator open at the same time.

And that isthmus -- why? (although it does give you a little more counter and cabinet space) -- but anyway, let's suppose that you are having a nice dinner with your friends, when you realize that you have left the vinaigrette in the fridge. Can you go directly to the refrigerator to recover this? No, you have to walk all the way around the peninsula to get to it. A little while later, when someone wants some more white wine, you have to take this trek again.

So, one of these days we will remodel the kitchen -- convert the kitchen peninsula to a kitchen island, and scale it down a bit. Granite counters, perhaps? or even tile would be an improvement.

And how to pay for this, since I refuse to do this on credit, or second mortgage, etc? Well, if I cut out my almost daily non-fat double latte at work, I could save around $700 per year.

But I get so much joy from the latte -- the banter with the baristas, the caffeine high, the CALCIUM for goodness sake!

There is more than enough $ for this in the "household emergency fund"; however, that is for true emergencies -- like the new a/c system we'll probably have to get next year, since our a/c is around 12 - 15 years old, and it isn't even sitting on a concrete or rubber slab -- they just plopped it on the dirt for goodness sake! So far, I'm not considering "bad kitchen feng shui" as an emergency, just an aesthetic yecch.

Sigh, we're just going to have to live with bad kitchen feng shui for a little while longer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More fun with Pi

Open up multiple browsers of the Pi link mentioned in the post below at different intervals for an interesting fugue effect. (well, probably a faux fugue, since I'm not sure there's any particular musical theme.) (actually, it's pretty annoying, so I'm going to close all of the open browsers now.)


I like pi (and click on the title for a song about it.) (or a song that is it?) It's got a good beat, and lovely harmonies, but as for dancing to it? Yeah, probably yes.

o.k., I know Thanksgiving is over, but . . . I am the stuffing?

You Are The Stuffing

You're complicated and complex, yet all your pieces fit together.
People miss you if you're gone - but they're not sure why.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Bridge in to Work is Closed

Lovely. . . we're supposed to be at work at 10 a.m. today; however, two of the bridges across Town Lake are closed due to the ice, and it's not getting any warmer here any time soon. It's almost 8, so I suppose I should leave soon; however, the last time I crawled in during an ice storm I was met with, "Turn around and go home, we're closed for the day!"

There are wrecks all over town, because people here won't slow down for anything, IH 35 is closed in several places as are several other highways and RM/FM (ranch-to-market and farm-to-market) roads. Most of the local public schools are closed. Hmmm, if I ran the zoo, I'd close UT for the day, but there is probably a good reason why I don't run that zoo.

Haven't yet checked to see if the webmail service is back up.

Last night was a 3-cat night -- it was so cold, they forgot their petty squabbles and cuddled up on the bed with me. It was an uneasy truce, but we made it through the night. Well, only two of them have issues -- Yuki stabbed Murasaki once and the wound got infected and she had to make a visit to the vet, so she HATES him. Genji is the Rodney King of cats, "Can't we all just get along?" He's such a happy, friendly guy. Hmm, wonder how these guys would like a puppy?

Going to go cook some oatmeal -- steel cut, big black organic raisins, slivered almonds, cinnamon, and perhaps a bit of light brown muscovado sugar. Then perhaps there will be a message that school is canceled for the day. (I feel for the thousands at UT who rely on their bicycles.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Snow Day! or Ice Day! No E-Mail Day! Messages for some of you!

The rumors began a little before lunch -- the University will be closing today at 2 p.m. for impending inclement weather. I never believe that stuff (as I am a student of history) until I have proof -- like the hot little e-mail announcement in my little hands. On my way to my Freshman Seminar, I ran into Austin Gleeson (Physics professor and member (or chair?) of the Campus Planning Steering Committee), and HE told me that the campus was going to be closed from 2 p.m. until 10 a.m. Thursday. Hearing this from Dr. Gleeson lends quite a bit of credibility to the rumor, and when I returned to my office @ 2, our crew was putting up the "closed" signs, because they had gotten the official e-mail as well as a message on the voice mail (important point to remember a couple of paragraphs down.

We're such wimps here -- well, actually, the ice storms are wicked, and I'd much rather drive in Colorado during a snow storm. There's a bit of ice out there now, so I guess it is good that they closed well before rush hour.

When I got home, I thought, "Oh, this would be a good time to catch up on some e-mail", but nooo -- that was not to be. Because the University sent out voicemail to all University phones, there was some horrid overload that caused the webmail service to shut down. Well, I thought, I'll just use the apple/mac mail client, but nooo, I'd forgotten to do the fix that was required to turn on Secure Socket Layers and change ports for security reasons, yadda yadda, so I went to the help page to find out how to set that up, and managed to make it so that now I can neither use Mail for my @mail.utexas address nor my @sbcglobal address. Sigh, I'll be able to fix it, but am too frustrated now. And I can't use my gMail, because I never use it and I can't remember my user name -- they've re-sent my user name, but the glitch is that they've sent it to my utexas e-mail, and I can't get in to read it. Argg.

So, if anyone I e-mail is reading this -- here are your messages:

Sandy, thanks for the address change (what, this is the 5th in 3 months?! What's going on?), and I'll be updating the cousin list soon, and get it in the mail. (Like I meant to do it in September, and was temporarily thwarted by not having the computer for several weeks.)

D.C. & K.G., a belated Happy Thanksgiving, and yes, we will all get to visit each other one of these days -- perhaps in mid-May? I should be in Colorado for my nephew's graduation.

g.l., thanks for your comments -- it's nice to know someone is reading. (and did you get that letter I sent -- "Meet the Parents" or somesuch?) Have you gotten all of your Apple products? I'm thinking PowerBook early next year, but can't decide between 12" or 15" -- the 12" is so nice and compact, but that backlit keyboard sounds keen. but should I get one before they start using the new chips? and when is that, anyway. anyone out there know?

David Miller, I sent you a response, but haven't heard back -- yes, I would like to know more about the Battle for Savo Island -- perhaps I misread your e-mail address?

Michelle G -- Just WHO did Dr. Ellington try to recruit for grad school? The flying spaghetti monster? (or the biology major that joined our club?)

Spence, that last e-mail was NOT FUNNY. but keep sending them anyway.

D.B., I wrote you a long e-mail @ lunch today, but it didn't get sent in the rush to evacuate the University (har har). So, if it is still there, you should get it tomorrow. (and if it accidentally got tossed, you'll get another message in its stead.) Gee, we have had some similarities in our paths over the years.

Fran, I haven't written because you have got to be so busy with school -- let me know when your term is over.

JS, you probably aren't reading this, but if you are, the Sept. issue of Math Horizons (the one with the guy from NUMB3RS on the cover) has an article on mathematical approaches to understanding the impending world oil shortage, in case you haven't seen it yet.

I know there are a couple of other e-mails I was meaning to get out, so the rest of you will have to wait until our e-mail system is back up.

somebody googled the following and found sbrownblog:

"indian jewelry" -"american indian" +austin +music +2005 -native -india -hindu -desi -chief

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

UT Crimeline

Ya gotta love these -- highlights from recent UT Crimeline messages, especially when they "display a severe involuntary physical reaction to the over-consumption of an alcoholic beverage".

JESTER CENTER WEST, 201 East 21st Street

Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor: Two UT students were observed assisting a third UT student up a flight of stairs located on the west side of the dormitory. The two assistants needed to hold the third student upright while the officer spoke with them. The student in need of assistance was found to have consumed alcoholic beverages to the point she was a physical endangerment to herself. The two assistants dropped the intoxicated student when she began to display a severe involuntary physical reaction to her over-consumption of an alcoholic beverage. One of the two assistants stated she is a daily reader of the Campus Watch and requested this report be omitted from today’s watch – oops, too late; my apologies. Occurred on 12-4-05 at 2:20 AM.
Crime Prevention Tip:
I placed this entry into the Campus Watch to illustrate the importance of having sober friends around when you’ve been drinking. As shown in this case, a sober friend will not keep you from getting a citation, but it may keep you from going to jail. If the student in this case did not have sober buddies with her, she would have been arrested for public intoxication. More importantly, a sober buddy will keep you from getting injured or worse. Just be careful when selecting your sober buddy. If that person is squeamish around partially digested stomach contents, he or she may drop you as a friend – literally.


and someone enters a room to "clean the room without university authorization"? Gee, wish someone would enter my room to clean it!

JESTER CENTER ACADEMIC, 201 East 21st Street

Criminal Mischief: A UT staff member reported a non-UT subject had been entering a student lounge to clean to the room without university authorization and would frequently slide hand written notes under the door to the lounge when the lounge is closed. On one occasion, the subject wrote on a poster that was displayed in the lounge. Repair cost: $25.00. Reported on 12-1-05 at 7:50 AM.


HARRY RANSOM CENTER, 300 West 21st Street

Disorderly Conduct – Exposure (2 counts) / Evading (2 counts): Two UT students were found running on the east side of the building wearing little more than their smiles. The students ran from the police officer when ordered to stop. When stopped, the students stated they had recently watched a movie that included a scene where the actor was streaking and a friend bet them $20.00 they would not streak around the Dobie Center. The students won the bet. Occurred on 11-5-05 at 2:00 AM.



Obscene Display / Criminal Trespass: A UT student reported a non-UT subject who was using a 2nd floor computer to view graphic images that would make even a sailor blush. The subject was reckless about the images being seen by another who could be offended. In addition to other law enforcement action taken, the subject was issued a written criminal trespass warning. Occurred on: 11-14-05 at 10:37 PM.


(Fight Club?)

2100 Guadalupe

Disorderly Conduct (Fighting in a Public Place) / Public Intoxication (2 counts): A UT police officer observed a non-UT subject straddling a second non-UT subject, who was lying on the ground. The first subject was repeatedly punching the second subject in the face. Both subjects were found to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage to the point they were a physical endangerment to themselves and each other. The subjects stated they wanted to see who was stronger and which one would win if they actually got into a fight. That question was answered as the subject who was being punched in the face needed to be transported by Austin-Travis County EMS to a local hospital for the treatment of a broken nose. Occurred on 11-1-05 at 1:55 AM.


JESTER CENTER WEST, 201 East 21st Street

Public Intoxication / Minor in Possession of Alcohol / Possession of Marijuana / Possession of Drug Paraphernalia / Evading Arrest / Resisting Arrest: A Resident Assistant walked by a table at the outdoor sports court and overheard three students talking. One of the students stated “Go ahead and fire up that blunt.” When the student saw the Resident Assistant, one of them said, “It’s okay – he’s not a cop.” As a police officer approached, an unidentified student flagged the officer down and pointed out one of the three students and said the student was drunk, smoking marijuana and trying to start fights with people. When the three students saw the officer approaching they stood up and began to walk away. One of the three students was still holding a burning blunt. The student with the blunt refused to heed the officer’s order to stop claiming the officer had no jurisdiction to stop him. When the officer was able to stop the student, the student protested and grabbed the epaulettes on the officer’s uniform. The student continued to resist; even after the arrival of an additional officer. Once taken into custody, the student was found to be in possession of a can of beer and a plastic bag containing marijuana. The student was also found to be under the influence of alcohol to the point he was a physical endangerment to himself. Occurred on 10-30-05 at 3:18 AM.


LITTLEFIELD FOUNTAIN, 200 East 21st Street

Criminal Mischief: An unknown subject affixed an undergarment to a statue of a female located inside the fountain. Removal cost: $5.00. Discovered on 10-30-05 at 10:45 AM.


(Unlawful blow jobs?)


Criminal Trespass: A non-UT subject was found sitting on the south side of the building holding a hair dryer in one hand and a beer in the other hand. The hair dryer was plugged into an electrical outlet on the south side of the building. The subject was issued a written criminal trespass warning. Occurred on 10-24-05 at 8:00 AM.

and on the same day. . .

2000 Robert Dedman

Driving While Intoxicated: While on patrol, a UT police officer observed a red Ford 2-door on the side of the road. The vehicle’s engine was running and its lights were turned on. The officer observed a non-UT subject sitting in the driver’s seat with his head back. The officer also observed a second non-UT subject leaning over the lap of the driver. As the officer pulled behind the vehicle, the driver put the vehicle into gear and turned the vehicle’s wheels in what appeared to be a distracted effort to pull away. The driver was found to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage to the point he was driving while intoxicated. Occurred on 10-25-05 at 2:25 AM.

JESTER CENTER WEST, 201 East 21st Street

Public Intoxication: A UT student, who was under the age of 21, was found lying on the ground next to a “puddle” of what appeared to be the student’s stomach testimonial of her alcohol consumption. The student was found to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage to the point she was a physical endangerment to herself. Occurred on 10-14-05 at 4:00 AM.



Public Intoxication: A UT student, who was under the age of 21, was found unconscious on a 1st floor women’s restroom. When awakened, the student stated he was embarrassed about where he was, but insisted he would be fine in “a few hours.” The student then laid his head back down on a towel that had been impregnated with the contents of the student’s stomach; no doubt due to the amount of alcohol the student had previously consumed. The student was found to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage to the point he was a physical endangerment to himself and others. Occurred on 10-13-05 at 11:15 PM.

Ignore Me at Your Peril

Well, this is breaking my vow not to discuss work, students, colleagues, etc., but last week I needed to contact a student -- let's call him/her "Pat Doe", and disguise the details so he/she won't be embarrassed if he/she happens upon this blog from my Facebook profile.

Pat needed to do either X or Y but had done neither. Repeated requests had been ignored. Secure e-mail had not been opened. (I love our secure e-mail system -- you can see when the recipient read the message. Correction -- you can see when the recipient OPENED the message -- who knows if the message is read or not.)

I noticed that Pat had a class one floor up on Thursday, so I printed out the important message, put it in an 8 1/2 x 11 1/2" envelope, wrote on the envelope in large black letters, "PAT DOE -- IGNORE ME AT YOUR PERIL", and parked myself outside the door 5 minutes before the class was due to end. I got a few chuckles as the students start streaming out, and in a few moments, Pat appeared and I was able to deliver the message.

Follow up -- I saw Pat open and read the message, and Pat has since read the secure e-mail, but as far as I know, Pat has done neither X nor Y. Oh well. . .

I Have Become One with the Monitor

New iTunes visualizer (click on title to go to the download site) -- wow. (just for Mac right now, but perhaps a Windows version is on the way?)

Now I just need to see if our dean will buy me another display so that I can still get some work done!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Texas Travesty

The shuttle bus was stopped for about five minutes yesterday, and for the entire time, a young woman was sitting on a bench reading the latest Texas Travesty (click on the title above).

Since one of the founders was a student I knew when I worked in the Government Department, and several math and physics majors have been involved in the production of the Travesty, I was interested in her reaction. Would she wryly smile, lightly chuckle, or perhaps break out into a roaring guffaw? Nothing, nada, zilch, zero! There was no reaction at all. In fact, she looked a bit disgusted at the whole thing, although I thought I saw a brief smile just as the bus drove off. . .