Thursday, November 29, 2007

Loki Does Not Want Me to Leave

That's my backpack he's sitting on.

He was cuter before I started moving around and woke him up. He doesn't like anything to happen without his participation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Digital Preservation

Other than the complete and total angst this paper is causing me, I absolutely love it. For my preservation class, I've managed to wrangle a research paper topic which focuses on exactly the problem I'm interested in.

Of course, I don't have a SOLUTION for the problem. But I'm enjoying poking holes in other people's so-called solutions.

(Disregard the bad writing, this is still my first draft.)

Some choose the goal of the physical preservation of the bits as all that can be managed, relying on future efforts for managing the “logical preservation”, or ability to render the bits into comprehensible data. “Not only is it a good bet to assume that technological innovation will continue and afford us the ability to decode the data later, but we should also assume that entirely new kinds of software may, through new types of data mining, find entirely new types of valuable information and expressiveness in preserved bits.” (Smith, p. 7) This is an understandable position, as it requires the least amount of time, effort, and budget from library institutions, which have many other tasks to focus upon. However, the assumption that is being made in this line of thought is a very big one indeed. While it is a possibility that the technology will be available to decode bits in the future, it is unlikely to be an easy task. And unless very good metadata is kept, and kept in readable format, it will be impossible for these future efforts to select which bits to rediscover.

I think I kept that politic, instead of saying what I really feel, which is "How can you be so stupid and irresponsible? 'Not my problem, kthxbye!' does not good librarianship make. Also, did no one ever tell you "assume" makes an ass out of you and me?"

Smith, A. (2007). Valuing Preservation. Library Trends, v. 56, p. 4-25.

How About A Shave?

Not surprisingly, I'm quite excited about the upcoming Sweeney Todd movie.

Here are a bunch of clips from the movie (can't decide if I should have waited before watching them so as to be surprised, but oops, too late now!). It's definitely different from the musical in some respects, but the characters and much of the music do seem to be true to the Sondheim version - and he seems to have endorsed it. I can live with that. (Especially once I saw they hadn't cut "A Little Priest".)

The history featurette was my favorite - it included this amusing quote from Sondheim about the original play: "[I thought] it would really be fun to scare an audience, and see if you could do it while people were singing."

He certainly succeeded, and I can't think of any director to better carry out his goals than Tim Burton. Can't wait!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Coffee Musings

1) I'd forgotten what a mess I'm capable of making without the cats' help.
2) It takes real talent to spill a whole mug of coffee and only hit the most obscure back corner of the carpet, where no one will really see the stain.
3) If I am dumping whole cups of coffee onto the floor, I probably didn't need that second cup anyway.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cat Food

Deborah Duchon's Modest Proposal: The Best Cat Food

As a cat lover/owner, I'm obsessing over the cat food scandal. Luckily, I don't use any of the implicated brands or flavors - although I have tried them in the past. The source of the poison cat food is in wheat gluten from China. The amazing thing, to me is, why are pet cats eating so much wheat gluten? Have you ever seen a cat beg for a piece of bread? I have, but only stray, starving cats who will eat anything. Cats are carnivores. They don't need wheat or corn or "garden vegetables". My cat's favorite veggie is catnip, which he eats until he passes out in a happy stupor...

After ruminating about it for a few days, it finally hit me. The best meal for a cat is a mouse. After all, that's why they were first domesticated about 5,000 years ago. It wasn't because they make great lap warmers, or for their quirky personalities. It was because they were hunters - and rodents were their preferred prey. By that time, humans had made the dietary shift to a grain-based diet, and huge stores of wheat and barley were endangered by ravenous, multiplying hordes of rats and mice. The rodents attracted cats and the cats saved the day. People started leaving scraps of food out for the wild cats and eventually cats became part of the fabric of society ... One of the good things about those early domesticated cats was that they did not compete with humans for their grain...

I have to admit that I've thought about this before the cat food scare, but it was more abstract. Why, I wondered, are we feeding cats the meat from animals that they wouldn't eat in the wild - beef and chicken, especially? There is a rat problem in this country - why not trap the rats and make them into cat food?

Freedom to Choose?

I'm procrastinating online, hanging out in one of my online communities, wallowing in other people's relationship-driven unhappiness.

First of all, I have to wonder why I'm wallowing this way. I'm sure it's related to the fact that I'm still feeling very unsettled in my life right now. I've quit the big bad thing that was driving my misery, but I have to replace it with something and I don't know what with, and meanwhile the clock is ticking. It's always reassuring to hear that no one else knows what they're doing, either.

But mostly, I'm thinking about relationships and how hard they seem to be for so many people. I'm including myself in that. It used to be, I guess, that you got married, young, because it was expected, and you stayed together because it was expected. In the last couple of decades, people stopped staying together when they were unhappy simply because they were "supposed to." Now, it seems that people hold off on getting married because it feels like there isn't any point to marriage if you're just going to split up. We're afraid, and we all go through a long, careful process of trying to be very very sure about our partners.

It isn't just in my life, and it isn't just the Glitter girls. It's my friends and acquaintances, and heck, even my exes are struggling with it. I had a conversation with one ex recently who is in the process of ending a long term relationship, and getting a lot of pressure from his family. "Are you sure? Is it so bad that if you were married, you would need a divorce?" To which he can only respond that the issues they have are the reasons he couldn't marry her in the first place. That he doesn't want to be in a situation where he has to make that choice.

And I worry that in all this carefulness, we pile too many expectations and put too much pressure on one another. That we expect our potential partners to be more than they can reasonably be. And that for fear of making the wrong decisions, we'll make no decisions at all.

I don't have an answer. But I am sometimes extremely frustrated by the dilemma. Maybe we should all just give up and let go of the search, choosing to live in little cottages with our cats and our vibrators and focus our effort on other things. But we don't - something (hi evolution!) keeps pushing us to make those connections, find that person, give him or her long test runs, try to craft our relationships into something lasting, to indulge the possibilities. What if we find that perfect person, that perfect relationship? We won't know if we don't look.

We have so much freedom to choose... that it's hard to make a choice.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Letting it go

I lost my scarf. The one I knit to keep my hands busy during our recent crisis. The one that was not on my Christmas list and that I shouldn't have been working on. The one where I bought the yarn on a depression driven impulse.

I wore it out the night that I posted the photograph, but after Bucket took me hottubbing (my Bucket is awesome), I was too warm to keep it on my neck anymore. So I put it in my lap when we got into the car.

Later that night, I realized it was gone. Through deduction and retracing our steps, we realized that it must have fallen out of my lap onto the sidewalk when I got out of the car several minutes later. However, it was no longer there.

I've decided it is okay. I feel a little bad about the cost of the yarn, but only a little. I poured too much negative energy into that scarf for it to be something healthy for me to keep and wear. We figure that it's likely one of the resident homeless folks in that area picked it up... they need the warmth far more than I do, and it won't have any negative associations for them.

Sometimes it's good to let things go.

Internet Addiction

Uh, Snowcrash anyone? This is rather unsettling.

Bootcamp Cure for Web Obsession

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Emotional Hangover

I can only describe today's headache as an emotion hangover from yesterday. It wasn't a deliberate overdose, but man, it was a rough day.

I'm still recovering, but I am functional now. Chipping away at my to-do list, for pretty much the first time this week. It's kind of a long one, but making process is good. I feel a little better now.

Also, the results of my poor impulse control are in - I made a scarf. No, this one isn't on my list of things to do. I needed to channel my anxiety into something else. I used enormous yarn on big needles, so it only took a couple of hours over 2 days to make. Actually, I was really glad to have something to do with my hands during yesterday's board meeting. I was coping pretty well until I finished the scarf entirely - the last 20 minutes I was shaking like a leaf. Next time, I'll bring a backup project.

Anyway, there it is. It's toasty warm, which is good, since my neck is all wacked out with tension headache funtime.

Man, I need a haircut.


We made the front page of the Mercury News. The whole story is here.

Later edit to add:

They're now making me register to see the article. Bleh.

Note: the "threat of condemnation" concern was mine - I asked them about it at the board meeting to see what they would say - they've been telling my father they aren't considering eminent domain at this time... but the only words they could find in the meeting to explain "threat of condemnation" were "friendly eminent domain".

Maybe it's me, but a threat doesn't sound very friendly.

Excerpts of the article follow.

Owners fight Saratoga Cemetery District effort to buy them out

Just under a month ago, Nikki Teeter answered a knock at the door to find Drew Reid, a real estate agent who told her he represented the Saratoga Cemetery District - which wanted to buy her home.

Reid said the district intended to expand the Madronia Cemetery, which surrounds the Saratoga house on three sides. Despite Teeter's protestations that her family's home of 29 years wasn't for sale, Reid persisted in trying to set up meetings - including one with an appraiser.

"I was astounded," Teeter said. "They want to take my house for a larger driveway."

Since that unsettling encounter, the Teeters and a group of neighbors have grown increasingly worried about the little-known cemetery district, whose five directors are appointed by the county board of supervisors but apparently aren't subject to county oversight. Some neighbors are convinced the district is planning to seize the Teeters' home and another nearby through eminent domain, the legal process by which a government agency can seize property from unwilling buyers for the "public good."

Phil Boyce, a well-connected local banker and investor who chairs the cemetery district, says any talk of eminent domain is wildly premature. But he refuses to rule it out.


Residents grew especially concerned after an aide to Supervisor Liz Kniss, whose district includes Saratoga, helped obtain board minutes that show district officials have been quietly making plans to buy the two homes near the cemetery for more than a year - without informing the homeowners until last month.

Neighbors also are alarmed that, according to previous minutes, the board has discussed whether the two homeowners would get a tax break if they sold to the district under "threat of condemnation." And they note that prominent attorney Norm Matteoni, the district's legal adviser on land matters, was at the center of one of San Jose's biggest eminent domain battles in recent years; he represented property owners at the Tropicana Shopping Center who successfully fought the city's efforts to seize their property.


Boyce told the Mercury News he had personally tried to visit both homeowners three times before Reid's visit, but they were never home and he didn't want to leave a business card.

Boyce said he understands why homeowners wouldn't want to sell at a time not of their choosing. "But there are needs for the greater good," he said. "We wanted to sit down in person, without any threats or cajoling, and hopefully we'll come to a meeting of the minds."

If the homeowners continue to refuse? "I don't know what we'll do from that point on," Boyce said.

Kniss said she has county lawyers and the county clerk doing research to see what authority the district has to invoke eminent domain, should it come to that.

"It seems a stretch to imagine a cemetery district would need additional land, unless they have run out of burial plots," she said.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

That Sucked Donkeyballs

Getting pushed out of your house is a lot like getting laid off. Except it is your fucking HOUSE. Hi, your life is in our way, get out.

"We know change is hard."


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Oak St. Neighborhood

I said I'd get back to the depression thing... I don't really have the energy for it now, but here's some of what I've been doing today:

One of the properties that the cemetery district wants to take is where I grew up. The same place I'm living right now, in fact. They've been planning it for a year; we just found out a few weeks ago.

It's really fucking scary, but I think the worst part of it is knowing that the cemetery board meeting minutes (that I used to make up this timeline) are available to the public if you know to go and ask for them. But why would we have known we needed to?

Depressive Impluse Control

They need to develop some sort of depression-sensing door control tool that will prevent depressed people from entering places like yarn stores and ice cream shops.

Then again, that would make the depressed people MORE depressed, probably. But it would save them some money!

I had a fairly successful yarn-store run this morning, all things considered - I only bought $30 worth of yarn that was not what I went in for, and I also got the stuff I DID go in for (and I'm pretty happy with it).

As for the reason for the depression, that's a separate post that I'm still mulling over - I'm sure I'll get it written out soon.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Handcrafted Holiday

Speaking of holidays... I'm making a lot of gifts this year. At least the way I've planned it, it's the highest % of homemade gifts I've ever attempted for a single holiday. I'm not sure if I'm going to make it or not, but I still have some time.

Planned are: 3 scarves, 3 embroidery-type projects. Finished is: well, none of it. 2 of the scarves are almost complete, one is not yet started. Or less than not started because I'm scrapping a previous effort, so I have to frog the whole thing and THEN start it. For the embroidery stuff, I picked up the last of the needed materials yesterday, so I can get started soon. In theory.

In the meantime, I am also working on the big mystery project, and I have a schedule to keep there, y'all, so there are a required number of pattern repeats every week to stay on track. And the HP scarf, which still needs fringe. And that scarf I started the other day (which I am not allowed to touch again until all Xmas projects are done). And I'm teaching myself to knit hats, so I have a half-finished hat as well.

I am crazy. That is the take home message here. Aie.

Unclean Caffeine

I feel kind of... dirty. I was driving home this morning and thinking about breakfast when it occurred to me that it was now November. Which is officially the commercial "holiday" season. Which means... Starbucks has their holiday flavors out.

Now, I normally avoid Starbucks on principle. I am strictly pro-independent coffee shops. There's a place down the road that got bought out a few years back by the guy who used to cook there, and I prefer to give them my patronage when in pursuit of java goodness.

But I have this Starbucks card in my purse. The money has already been given to them, whether they provide me with product or not. So I might as well indulge in a gingerbread latte, right?


Mmmmmmmmm. Tasty gingerbread latte.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It followed me home, I swear

Bucket caught me playing with some new yarn this morning. I clearly have start-itis. In fairness, I would have been working on one of my many in-progress projects if I had remembered to BRING any of them with me to his house. But the only thing I brought was the Slytherin scarf to finish (can't believe I started that all the way back in April), and it's currently blocking and there's not much else I can do until it dries.

(Yes, I know the books are over, but my scarf was 95% done and it seems silly not to complete it. It will be a good "I have a sore throat and am not leaving the house" scarf. What? I totally wear scarves around the house when I don't feel well.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Good Excuse to Sit Still

I knew it must be that time of the cycle when it took 4 trips to the bedroom to return with my glasses, and I found myself completely livid at the cats for jumping around on the desk... like they do every single day.

But I was just trying to wash dishes, and I dropped 3 different items before deciding to quit before something gets broken. PMS sucks.

I probably shouldn't try knitting either, but you know I will. Wish me luck.