Today is "Take Our Children to Work Day." There are clowns, balloon animals, face painting and all kinds of cute little one's down in the cafeteria and the children can occasionally be seen in the halls too. It's a fun injection of energy and I'm glad they have it.
Aha, so a Fujitsu sponsorship has helped the PostgreSQL development team come out with such an outstanding list of improvements for the next release! I read Robert Treat's PostgreSQL Weekly News which includes a summary of each week's development progress as seen on the development mailing list and I have been quite amazed at how quickly development of major features was progressing.
Thanks to Jeremy's linkblog for this tip. I imagine that the sponsorship was probably mentioned sometime in the Weekly News but I didn't remember it because I didn't realize how significant it would be.
Yesterday a friend and I had lunch and ran a few errands. We stopped at the Bureau of Vital Statistics to get an extra copy of The Princess's birth certificate. As we waited in line, we saw the sample heirloom "Native Texan" birth certificates displayed on the wall. He and his wife had discussed choosing that when their baby was born, but hadn't. I said he should get her one now. He pointed out, I could get me one. And I can. Because I am. Born in Austin. So I did. Now I have a Texas vanity birth certificate suitable for framing. How crazy is that.
Her show was brilliantly funny and I recommend it, particularly to us Gen Xers and younger young working adults and those who know us.
During the show, I thought of a few of my friends that would have also probably really enjoyed it but who weren't there with me on Faculty and Staff night. So, let me shout out a big thanks to the Faculty and Staff who invited me to come along that evening. :-)
Bad just goes to worse this Monday. I had to travel home to make a telephone call (more on that ridiculousness in a future entry) and as I closed my car door with the same hand that was holding my keys, I lost my grip on my keys and locked them in my car. Anticipating that this might happen some year, I'd given an extra set of keys to a friend. Unfortunately, he's moving to North Carolina and he packed and moved my keys. So that spare set sits in a huge pile of boxes in a garage in North Carolina. That's no help.
Fortunately, I was able to call a friend on my cell phone and she gave me a few locksmith numbers from the yellow pages -- specifically, Yahoo's yellow pages which sorts results by distance from a given address (thanks Yahoo). The first three entries were just zip-codes and didn't have addresses listed, thus implying that they are mobile operations, which is just what I need right now.
I called Abracadabra and they are setting someone out. It'll be $20 cash or $25 credit card, which seems reasonable to me. In fact, even if my friend in South Austin (who isn't moving) had my keys, this might be preferable in some ways to her driving across the city. But it may have its own downside because breaking-in to my car by a locksmith is more likely to do damage than using a spare key.
So now I'm writing this up in the laundry room where I can keep a watch out for my man from Abracadabra. I've got my laptop and my book, so I'm lucky to be well prepared for this waiting game.
Update: Marcus showed up, a real big guy with curly hair in a little, old, green Geo that was making some ugly noise but he said the car was as dependable as a rock with over 160K miles, just one clutch replacement and three or four oil changes worth of maintenance. Seeing my Corolla, he mourned his own reliable Corolla which a teenager ran into, totaling it. So we got along real well talking about Toyotas and other groovy, reliable things. He reminded me of a glass-half-full version of someone else I know who is more likely to find the glass half-empty.
First Marcus tried using a couple of wedges to slide a pre-bent metal wire down the edge of the window. That didn't work. He then used a wedge and an air bladder to open the door enough to get in a long wire with some rubber on the end that he used to pop the lock. That was successful.
He advised me that I should get some spare car keys made (beyond the one sitting in a box in North Carolina). I said I had some up in my apartment, but the apartment key had been locked in the car with the car key. Well, friends Marcus was, because this is the point where Marcus gave me the advice that could have saved me the time and money of having him unlock my car. My apartment complex office keeps apartment keys for all their units. Doh!
The switch was very easy, with one caveat I'll get to in a minute, and I'm glad I did:
- No more re-building pages
- Faster web interface
- Easier web interface
- Easier backup
- Very easy initial setup and configuration
- Multiple blogs can share a single database (simplifies both setup and backup)
- I can use WordPress at work if I wish because the license is more liberal (GPL)
The caveat involved the MT Import/Export trouble that I had back in March. The data export from MT and subsequent import of that MT export file into Wordpress suffered that same problem. I tracked down the problem this time. The import process was becoming seriously confused because of dashes in MySQL tables. MT is incorrectly exporting data that it cannot import. I was able to correct the problem for my purposes by escaping the dashes myself: changing the dashes in the table to
- entities. This problem should not have occurred. That entry, like all my entries, is validated XHTML 1.0 Strict.
I'm glad I spent a few hours today making the switch. I think I'll find it very worthwhile in the long term.
Oh yes, and I've renamed the blog. I think that the old title, Wind in the Wires, might be misconstrued as being too computer-technical. The Wires primarily referred to the humming sound produced on a sailing vessel when a strong wind causes taught lines (stays, shrouds, sheets, halyards) to vibrate like guitar strings. As a double entendre, it also alluded to the wires of the Internet over which information is communicated. There is something ironic about my mentioning that the less-technical meaning should dominate at the end of this this very technical post.
It was shortly after graduating from college that I discovered how good onions are. I didn't like them as a kid. Now I wonder what I was thinking. Onions are great. It turns out I wasn't the first to think so. The quote below has some interesting history to go along with the q & a. It's technical, but it's short.
ASK THE EXPERTS : CHEMISTRY
What is the chemical process that causes my eyes to tear when I peel an onion?
Thomas Scott is a researcher in the biopsychology program within the department of psychology at the University of Delaware. He replies:
"The rowdy onion joins the aristocratic shallot, the gentle leek, the herbaceous chive, sharp scallion and assertive garlic among the 500 species of the genus Allium. Allium cepa is an ancient vegetable, known to Alexander the Great and eaten by the Israelites during their Egyptian bondage. Indeed, his charges chastened Moses for leading them away from the onions and other flavorful foods that they had come to relish while in captivity. And with good reason: onion is a rich source of nutrients, including vitamins B, C and G, protein, starch and a series of essential elements. The chemicals contained in onions are reported to be effective agents against fungal and bacterial growth; they protect against stomach, colon and skin cancers; they have anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, antiasthmatic and antidiabetic actions; and they treat causes of cardiovascular disorders, including hypertension, hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia while also inhibiting platelet aggregation.
"The price of this goodness is tears. The volatile oils that help to give Allium vegetables their distinctive flavors contain a class of organic molecules known as amino acid sulfoxides. Peeling, cutting or crushing an onion's tissue releases enzymes called allinases, which convert these molecules to sulfenic acids. The sulfenic acids, in turn, spontaneously rearrange to form syn-propanethial-S-oxide, the chemical that triggers the tears. They also condense to form odorous thiosulfinates, coincidentally evoking the pungent odor associated with chopping onions and eliciting the false accusation that it is the odor that causes the weepy eye. Incidentally, sulfenic acid in garlic takes a different chemical route, sparing the eyes. The formation of syn-propanethial-S-oxide peaks at about 30 seconds after mechanical damage to the onion and completes its cycle of chemical evolution over about five minutes.
"Its effects on the eye are all too familiar. The front surface of the eye--the cornea--serves several purposes, among them protection against physical and chemical irritants. The cornea is densely populated with sensory fibers of the ciliary nerve, a branch of the massive trigeminal nerve that brings touch, temperature and pain sensations from the face and front of the head. The cornea also receives a smaller number of autonomic motor fibers that activate the lachrymal (tear) glands. Free nerve endings detect syn-propanethial-S-oxide on the cornea and drive activity in the ciliary nerve--which the central nervous system interprets as a burning sensation--in proportion to the compound's concentration. This nerve activity reflexively activates the autonomic fibers, which then carry a signal back to the eye ordering the lachrymal glands to wash the irritant away.
"There are several solutions to the problem of onion tears. You can heat onions before chopping to denature the enzymes. You might also try ways to limit contact with the vapors: chop onions on a breezy porch, under a steady stream of water or mechanically in a closed container. But do not forgo the sensory pleasure and healthful effects of Allium cepa."
Answer posted on October 21, 1999
I've learned that there's a downside to eating lots of onions, but as I haven't been kissing anyone recently, it's not a problem at the moment.
I had a friend's truck for this past weekend. In addition to work, I took it down to Town Lake for a jog, to Dobie Theatre for Good bye, Lenin!, out to a frisbee game, and finally back to the airport to pick up the owner. It was a good experience. I learned that I don't want a truck.
The suspension had a sort of role-ly feeling. I sure wouldn't want to try an emergency avoidance maneuver a highway speeds. The width made it something of a tight fit in some lanes. The size made it hard to park. The turning radius was pathetic. Fortunately, I didn't have to buy it any gas. I soon found myself looking down enviously at the small, nimble cars around me.
It's probably worth mentioning that isn't the first time I've driven a truck, though I don't recall ever driving a pickup before. I've driven moving trucks from North Carolina to Maine and back and from North Carolina to Texas and back (though the last time I did that, I didn't go back). Those were 10' or 14' moving trucks. I've driven 17' foot moving trucks full of band equipment around Durham, N.C. I've driven a 15 passenger van (which later pulled a car trailer and car). Generally it's been fun and entertaining, part of some big project of moving lots of stuff. When I've had the moving trucks for a couple extra days as part of one-way-move contracts, I've even enjoyed tooling around Durham and Austin in my oversized ride.
At the end of the day, I'll stick to my Corolla, though I'd rather have a Prius. Maybe I will someday, but I just paid off my Corolla a year ago now, so I'll have to wait a little while for it to wear out.
P.S. that Town Lake link that I discovered to use above has some nice pictures of where I like most to go jogging. I really should take some such photos of my own.
I was disappointed by Eugene Volokh's WWII analog to suggest that the Supreme Court should deny that the Guantanamo detainees have any right to petition our Judicial branch for habeas corpus: "Litigation as a military tactic".
A couple points come immediately to mind:
- http://nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Scotus-Detainees.html ( 2004-04-20): "The Bush administration calls the men ``enemy combatants,'' similar to traditional prisoners of war but outside the guarantees of the Geneva Convention."
If this "war on terrorism" is to be comparable according to Eugene's example wherein we have detained tens or hundreds of thousands of Nazis and Japanese, then shouldn't the detainees should be treated as POWs under the dictates of the Convention?
- Eugene's argument is that the Supreme Court should rule on this juristictional case with a view of the hypothetical situation where there are far more detainees than our justice system can handle. Several orders of magnitude more than the actual case in question. He is suggesting that if the privilige is given at all, then an enemy may stage a "denial-of-service" attack. I think the argument could be paraphrased, "it would be too much work to do realistically, so we must avoid the work completely, independent of the issue of justice." If we processed however many detainees there were a some slow non-stop rate, wouldn't that be better than throwing up our hands and pretending to have no responsibility where we feel we should but we cannot muster all the resources to take care of the problem as quickly as we might wish? This would somewhat akin to a "bandwidth-throttling" defense for this type of "denial-of-service" attack.
Given the reports that some non-trivial number of detainees were delivered by bounty hunters, not captured in a conflict situation with our own troops, we can have a reasonable expectation that there might be some innocents. If we processed just 30 a year randomly, then in this case, an innocent would have a 50% chance of being released within ten years. That's a very long time, but a lot shorter than life in prison. It also gives hope that may prevent the madness of despair that can come upon someone held wrongly and without hope for release or even review for an indefinite period of time in solitary confinement.
On the entire question, I think that there are numerous reasons why the jurisdictional question should be decided in favor of the detainees in this case, but many of the Justices seem to have a good handle on it. This later article is better than the AP story above: Supreme Court Hears the Case of Guantánamo.
Update on 2004-04-21: Eugene followed up with a few more posts on the subject, addressing some of the comments that I made here.
Very young babies seem suddenly everywhere. A cousin just had her third child a couple weeks ago. I received a few digital pictures of the very young one this past week. Then on Thursday, I saw a co-worker's young one for the first time at the grocery store. I think he said he she was near 7-9 months old. I missed the exact age as I was distracted interacting with just as cute a baby as I've ever seen. She was slightly dark skinned as befits her Middle Eastern heritage (this whole, "note the skin color and racial background of the baby," is important in just a bit here). Later that same night, I swapped vehicles with my friend M for a couple days so that I would have a vehicle with a baby seat so I can pick up The Princess and her mother at the airport on Monday. (Now, you might be wondering if it wouldn't be easier to just move the baby seat from one car to another. I figured that M wanted to swap because his truck had LATCH anchors and maybe a top tether anchor. Turns out neither vehicle is equipped for either. Somehow, it still just felt easier to both of us to swap keys than move the seat.) The Princess is a beautiful young Indian American.
As tends to happen to me when something keeps re-occurring in real life, I had a dream about it. I had a baby with a lover who had left. It was an accident. Immediately after having it, she had moved far off to another city and the baby was with me full-time and completely as my little nightmare. But it was not a nightmare at all. I was actually having a great time of it. I was housemates with a young married couple. They resembled some friends I made on a ski trip this past February. They were very helpful and thoughtful. We all got along quite well in a beautiful two-story house with clean, bright, calming blue rugs and drapes. The house actually had a small, luxuriantly green lawn and a one foot tall white picket fence.
My housemates seemed a little concerned about me since I'd had the baby, as though I were a little crazy. So one day I took a long look at my baby…and realized that it wasn't white! Now, the mother was definitely white and so am I. Ergo, this beautiful light brown baby girl clearly was not mine! I'd always admired her beautiful shade of skin (which was like the real-life babies that I'd seen in the last week). My housemates had thought I was self-deluded for not recognizing the obvious discrepancy but couldn't bring themselves to bring it up.
Now, I found myself in something of a tricky situation. I found myself the sole guardian of a baby whose mother had left her for me, pretending that she was mine, and shown no further interest. The father was a complete unknown. I thought that I should be angry with the mother and become quickly disinterested in the baby's welfare, simply as a biological reaction to the idea of raising a baby that was not mine. But that wasn't happening at all. I was unconcerned with the mother's actions and motivations. I was concerned about the baby and was the only one so concerned. So I was confused. And I'm afraid that that is where this little tale ends.
I've been contemplating the whole thing all day and am truly unsure what would happen if any sort of thing like that were to actually happen (except that, in the real world, the next step would inevitably involve numerous lawyers).