Monday October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

B O O !

Berkeley and Oakland merchants were doing Halloween on College Ave. yesterday. There were a zillion kids and parents in costume - bears, dogs, dragons, frogs, witches and princesses of all descriptions, and quite a few pumpkins. ...
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Happy Halloween ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Mon, 31 Oct, 09:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday October 30, 2005

Scharffen Berger

There were no Oompa Loompas, but...

Our friend Quinn decided that it would be fun to celebrate his birthday (today) by inviting a group of friends to join him for a tour of the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory in Berkeley. The "tour" is actually nearly an hour of talk (history of chocolate and history of Scharffen Berger), touching, smelling, and looking at cocoa beans in various states, and chocolate tasting. This is followed by a quick visit to the factory floor to see the machines.

The factory is house in a 27,000 sq. foot, not-quite-100-year-old brick building (retrofitted for earthquake safety) with arched ceilings and handsome architecture. The company moved to the present site in May, 2001. The entire building — gift shop, restrooms, tour presentation room — smells like chocolate. Wow. (I can still smell chocolate :-) ...
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Scharffen Berger ( in category Show & Tell , Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Sun, 30 Oct, 19:41 Pacific | Comments (1)

Saturday October 29, 2005

A Correspondence in Correspondence

Both Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein relied on pen, paper, and the postal service to communicate with correspondents around the world. But researchers have now found the pattern of their replies is the same as that of computer users answering email today, with both following the same mathematical formula.

New Scientist magazine, 26 October 2005

This doesn't seem unusual to me. I tend to treat email as just another way to write a letter, a note, a memo.... The primary difference for me is that, when I was writing paper letters, I would write fewer of them, to a smaller set of people, and the letters themselves would be much longer. If I was going to sit down with pen and paper I might as well make the most of the time.

Using email, I write more often to more people, sending shorter messages at more frequent intervals. I keep up with my sister and with college friends - people I used to exchange letters with once or twice a year.

My mother, on the other hand, has moved from multi-page handwritten paper letters to multi-page typed and printed letters to multi-page (if I printed them) email letters. The biggest difference for her is that she now sends the same letter to both my sister and myself. I reply to both of them, including my Dad, keeping everyone "on the same page".

After all, what are letters (paper or electronic) but a way to communicate?

A Correspondence in Correspondence ( in category Random Thoughts , Special Interests ) - posted at Sat, 29 Oct, 12:32 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday October 28, 2005

Treasures 2005_43

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.
-- Alice Walker

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the past week.

  • Two ravens (of the avian variety) sitting on the end of a high pine bough, GRONKing.

  • Several walks along our lovely local trails, under blue sky with puffy clouds.
       Continue reading "Treasures 2005_43"

Treasures 2005_43 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Fri, 28 Oct, 23:44 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday October 27, 2005

Nifty Kitchen Gadget

I want one of these :-)

A nifty kitchen gadget, and a cool kinetic sculpture. Pull the ring to set the time. The tape counts minutes, not inches, as it slowly retreats into the aluminum cube, sounding a bell when the time's up. Because it's vertical, you can see it from across the room and know about how much time is left. Created by industrial designer Jozeph Forakis, a native New Yorker based in Milan. 60 minutes. 4" cube.

Signals catalog, item HB1342

kitchen timer
Nifty Kitchen Gadget ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Thu, 27 Oct, 19:08 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday October 25, 2005

Dilbert Blogs

Scot Adams (creator of Dilbert, Dogbert, and friends) has started a weblog. Not only that, he's using TypePad. Woo Hoo.

The beauty of blogging, as compared to writing a book, is that no editor will be interfering with my random spelling and grammar, my complete disregard for the facts, and my wandering sentences that seem to go on and on and never end so that you feel like you need to take a breath and clear your head before you can even consider making it to the end of the sentence that probably didn't need to be written anyhoo.
Dilbert Blogs ( in category Special Interests ) - posted at Tue, 25 Oct, 11:54 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday October 23, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_42

This was a difficult and confusing week. I managed to walk Through the Looking Glass at my job and into my own personal version of The Invasion of the Pod People. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_42"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_42 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sun, 23 Oct, 23:30 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday October 22, 2005

Treasures 2005_42

Heaven does not leave a person without a path to their destination.
-- Chinese Proverb

When one door closes, another opens.
-- Proverb

That may be true, but the hallways in between can really get you down...
-- Anonymous

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the past week.

  • A bright patch of California poppies

  • Cottony fog over the soccer field at the school nearby

  • My most supportive and wonderful sweetie Richard, backing me up, reviewing my memos, keeping my spirits alive, and simply Being There as my job unravels and blows away on an unforseen wind.

  • Supportive and positive feedback from my co-workers

  • Retaining my honor and my professional integrity as I unknowingly walk Though the Looking Glass

  • Knowing that I tried, I'm still trying, and whether I succeed or fail, in the end I can hold my head up.

  • Being able to take pride in a job well done

  • Positive thoughts: Look for the silver lining

Treasures 2005_42 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 22 Oct, 14:08 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday October 21, 2005

Passion For Work (redux)

In today's commentary I discuss how passion for work can backfire...

Read my commentary.

Passion For Work (redux) ( in category commentary ) - posted at Fri, 21 Oct, 21:02 Pacific

Wednesday October 19, 2005

So Good At What I Do

Many years ago, in my first "real" (i.e. fulltime, salaried) job, my then-manager said to me:

Vicki, you're so good at what you do. Why can't you be good at this?
Today in commentary.
So Good At What I Do ( in category commentary ) - posted at Wed, 19 Oct, 22:10 Pacific

Tuesday October 18, 2005

Fortune Cookies

The Universe is trying to tell me something. Being The Universe, of course, it's being cryptic.

I have been trying to make headway on "discussions" with The Company regarding the direction of my job. I have yet another meeting scheduled for today. Last night, the outcome of the meeting was unknown and unknowable.

Rich and I went out for Chinese dinner last night. These were the fortunes we got in our cookies:

You will be wise not to seek too much from others.

You will conquer obstacles to achieve success.

Fortune Cookies ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Tue, 18 Oct, 08:40 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday October 17, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_41

The weather has varied. It's autumn. On two mornings in a row, I woke up when the sun came in the window at 6:30 am (I wake best to light). On the third morning, the clouds rolled in and I woke to my alarm clock.

After much fuss and bother and stress and frustration we installed a new monitor arm on my desk. I was concerned about a major change to my office configuration and this was giving me stress. Rich had a sore neck and shoulder and didn't need my stress to add to his stress.

The end result works... although at first it was very odd to have the screen "floating" in the air. But I can fit the scanner under it (which was what I wanted in the first place).

(if you want one, shop around. paid roughly half SRP at Staples.) ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_41"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_41 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 17 Oct, 08:00 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday October 15, 2005

Treasures 2005_41

Always remember to slow down in life; live, breathe, and learn; take a look around you whenever you have time and never forget everything and every person that has the least place within your heart.
-- Anonymous

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the past week.

  • Hugs and snuggles from my four kitty friends.

  • My new monitor arm (which concerned me at first but, as I had hoped, once I got it installed aand got used to it, it's really quite grand).

  • My wonderful sweetie, Richard, giving me hugs and talking me through a serious upset at the Job.

  • Sawyer Camp Trail along Crystal Springs reservoir - a refreshing and soothing walk when I needed it most.

  • A gorgeous, sunny, near-perfect day. Just a little haze in the distance. A lovely day for a drive.

  • Dinner with friends.

  • Three raccoons on the sunroom roof, walking back and forth, nosing about. There was enough moonlight to see them very clearly from below.

Treasures 2005_41 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 15 Oct, 10:08 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday October 12, 2005

Embracing RSS

RSS (aka Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is a family of XML file formats for web syndication used by (amongst other things) news websites and weblogs. I've been hearing about RSS for some time now. I'm finally using it myself.

I have turned on RSS syndication for this weblog. (all together now: oooooooh. aaaaaaaah.)

I have found an RSS client I like. ...
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Embracing RSS ( in category Computerware , Special Interests ) - posted at Wed, 12 Oct, 19:20 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday October 10, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_40

The weather has been mostly nice: fair, clear, and neither too warm nor too cold.

Rich called an impromptu ad hoc pizza meeting of the Bay Area Ruby group ("if no one shows, at least we can eat pizza"). One person RSVP'd (not required); eight showed up. Not bad!

We eat at Red Lobster once or twice a year. This week we went with a friend on his birthday. I took advantage of the opportunity to order shrimp and eat garlic-cheese bisquits.

The Mall has re-opened. We drove by on Friday night after dinner - and kept right on driving - Wow. Lights! Cars! More cars! I think we'll wait a week or two.

I had a short-term urgent project for the Job that I found out about on Friday. I did most of the work on Saturday. It was a project to put up a web site, not a big deal to do. The client was very happy with the results. I like making the clients happy. ...
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Weekly Wrap-up 2005_40 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 10 Oct, 20:56 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday October 9, 2005

Color Copier

Our photocopier started getting over-sensitive a while back. First copies came out with a greyish tinge... then greyer... and greyer. Eventually they were becoming pretty much unreadable. As this was an "all-in-one" unit (copier, fax, etc) the faxes were having similar problems. We finally broke down and decided to buy a new copier. ...
       Continue reading "Color Copier"

Color Copier ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Sun, 09 Oct, 20:58 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday October 8, 2005

Re-opening Tanforan

Ba Tanforanls

Tanforan Park, our local shopping mall, closed for renovations in 2003, immediately following the 2002 holiday shopping season. (The original plan had apparently called for closing before Christmas; dumb!).

The mall was 30 years old and had slowly been declining. We liked it, but we could see that some of the stores had closed and not been replaced. It was bringing in less money... and, apparently, the new owners thought it looked like it was built in the early 70's (which, of course, it was.) ...
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Re-opening Tanforan ( in category In The News ) - posted at Sat, 08 Oct, 11:38 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday October 7, 2005

Treasures 2005_40

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.
-- Franz Kafka

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the past week.

  • Birds chirping in the bushes, singing on the telephone wires. Pigeons walking on the sunroom roof, entertaining the cats

  • Crystalline days. Not too warm The setting sun glinting off of windows along the ridge in the East Bay. Mount Diablo arising above the early morning fog layer.

  • Family rituals. Crunchy mornings. Mezzaluna lying on my chest when I go to bed. Bebop "up close and personal" with Rich and me at meal time. Raven reminding me, as I put on my shoes to go out, that I'm supposed to stay at HOME. Squirrel patting my arm at 10pm - It's time to stop typing. It's snack time!

  • Fridays. Weekend rituals. Brunch at Joe's. Splitting an omelette.. Eggs Florentine. Napping with the cats.

Treasures 2005_40 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Fri, 07 Oct, 20:35 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday October 6, 2005

How Are You Feeling Today?

Mood Dude Happy Mood Dude Anxious

How Are You Feeling Today?

Are you Happy? Anxious? Sad? Disgusted? Overwhelmed? Confident? Hopeful?

How's your self-esteem today? How's your character?

Are you stressed? Depressed? Feeling angry? Feeling anxious? Feeling great?

Mood Dude Sad Mood Dude Bleah

For 15 years, Creative Therapy Associates has been producing materials that address the mental health and social issues of children and adults. Their products are useful and fun.

Take a look for yourself. Maybe order a t-shirt... Express your feelings in Latin perhaps. Or Esperanto? :-)

How Are You Feeling Today? ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Thu, 06 Oct, 18:46 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday October 5, 2005


I just discovered a rather nice web log creation program that runs on your desktop computer. It's called Tangelo.

Tangelo, termed "web publishing with a twist," is a departure from most traditional weblog publishing tools. Instead of installing or using weblog software on an Internet web server, Tangelo is installed on the user's computer as a standalone application, providing much easier installation, greater weblog control, and ease of use.

The weblog, with all associated files, is created on your desktop machine. Everything can also be published via FTP to a server if desired (presuming you have a server account with FTP access. :-)

I've started to use Tangelo at The Job. There's a 'home directory server" but scripts aren't supported. So, no PHP, no weblog engines, no dynamic HTML. With Tangelo, I don't need IT to provide anything but a little bit of space (and they're doing that already).

Tangelo is available for both Mac OS X (10.2.8 and above) and Windows (2000 and above; where does XP fit on that scale?). The developer is responsive and helpful. The interface is colorful and easy to use. I like it.

Tangelo ( in category Computerware ) - posted at Wed, 05 Oct, 17:07 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday October 3, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_39

The weather was pretty nice all week. Even the one foggy day (Saturday) was warm.

When I went out to fill the bird feeder on Saturday, the garden was full of chirping (although I could only see two birds and one was a hummer). The bushes were making a lot of noise. Birds like the drippy mornings.

Somehow, there wasn't a lot of news last week... ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_39"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_39 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 03 Oct, 08:00 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday October 1, 2005

Circus Ponies NoteBook

One of my favorite "must-have" applications for Mac OS X is Circus Ponies NoteBook. NoteBook is a data manager with the look and feel of a 23rd century notepad. It looks like paper but it's flexible, powerful, and highly reconfigurable. I'm someone who has often wished to rearrange paper notebooks, change the format, etc. – being able to actually do so with this one gives me a trippy feeling indeed!

I've been using NoteBook for nearly two and a half years now. It was initially recommended to me by a friend whose opinions I tend to trust implicitly in these matters (his ideas of what makes a great application are usually in sync with my own).

At this point I have a set of seven notebooks in regular use: two daily journals (one each for home and work, with different formats), a project log book for work, a general "notes" book for work, another notebook for records of all sorts, both technical and personal (from code snippets to recipes) and a notebook in which I store quotes, lyrics, essays, writing prompts, and the like. ...
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Circus Ponies NoteBook ( in category Computerware ) - posted at Sat, 01 Oct, 10:00 Pacific | Comments (0)