Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Demigod Missing at Sea

I just found out that Jim Grey, my personal demigod, is currently missing on his sailboat somewhere outside of the San Francisco bay. This is the man that I grew up hearing about all through college. The guy who invented relational databases when hierarchical databases were the only ones in use. The story goes that he went to a database conference, and after a talk he stood up during the questions and ripped off his button down shirt to display a t-shirt reading "RELATIONAL". I have this image in my head of your normal Berkeley hippie with shaggy hair standing up for a geeky thing like databases. He was a legend.

During my second summer internship at Microsoft we had our normal barbeque at Bill's house and I was thrilled to find out that Jim would be attending. While everyone crowded around Bill I got a seat near Jim and talked to him the whole evening. I asked him what it was like to know that there were database groupies like myself all around the world who considered him a Demigod. He laughed, and we spent the rest of the night chatting about random things - he's a great guy. Since then I've seen him a few times at conferences and discussed printing (since that's usually what I was displaying) and his database work. Here's hoping that he turns up safe and sound soon.

Ultimate Political Response

Last night I heard President Bush being interviewed by Juan Williams. Juan had apparently combed the armed forces for questions for the president, and the best he came up with was, "What are you going to do if your surge doesn't get results?" This was a pretty lame question anyway, since it's the same question any of us non-soldiers are asking, but even better was the reply - it went something like this: "Well, I came up with that plan by talking to many smart people, so I think it's going to work. And by the way, soldier, thank you for serving in Iraq. This is a great country where people volunteer to serve. Thanks to all the brave fighting men and women blah blah..." This was the equivalent of saying, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain". Maybe our President thinks he's in Oz.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Power Bill Extortion and State of the Union

I would prefer not to spend my time grumping about things like bills, but I have to put in a word here. We just got our power bill for mid Dec - Jan. Anyone in the Seattle area knows that our Hannukah storm started right then - people on the Eastside were without power for anywhere from 2 to 8 (or even longer!) days. We were lucky enough to lose power twice - once for three days and then again for another two days later in the week. Despite this, our power bill just came in at $376! Now we have a big house, I'll grant you. But in past years, our highest winter bill has come in at around $200. According to political commentators when people pay more for gas (in this case for heating) they usually blame the party in power so I think I'll probably blame our president.

Speaking of whom, the only part of the entire State of the Union speech, which I heard on NPR of course, that didn't make me grimace was the beginning, where I found myself suprisingly moved by his statement along the lines of, "It is my distinguished honor to be the first president to begin the State of the Union with the statement, 'Thank you, Madame Speaker'". I don't normally go for the idea that because I'm a woman I should be proud of all other women, but this was a pretty momentous thing and a surprisingly classy gesture on his part. Of course the speech went downhill quickly from there with a bunch of useless statements about how we had to fix social security (really?) with no ideas about how to do it, as well as discussion of the 4000 marines we'll be sending in to hunt down and conquer the terrorists, since obviously the ones who had been there until now have just been sitting around making ice cream sundaes.

Okay, grouching over.

Monday, January 22, 2007

More Meat

Apparently meat is now the #1 item stolen from grocery stores. Not any old meat, mind you, but "premium" cuts of meat. Since I don't eat red meat I'm not a very good judge of what constitutes premium meat - obviously filet mignon but according to NPR also lamb chops. Here's the scenario that apparently causes this meat theft trend - people go to the meat section to buy cheap hamburger, but then decide that they "deserve" fancier meat. They then stick it under their jacket and take off, sometimes buying other grocery items. Women are apparently more likely than men to steal meat - men steal things they can resell.
So this makes me think
(1) are we all crazy? Who really needs meat that much? I'd understand more if people were desperate and stole the cheap cuts to feed their hungry children but they just really want prime rib.
(2) it's interesting that women, who generally don't get sterotyped as meat-devouring, are stealing more of it. Perhaps it's just because they do more of the grocery shopping?
(3) i can imagine few things more off-putting than sticking a dripping, bloody saran-wrapped package of animal flesh under my jacket. Yuck.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

First Post

Everything I know I heard on NPR. Or at least that's how it seems. Once a week during FOT lunches, or during my Tuesday or Wednesday night set dinners with "family", our topics of conversation range widely but we always come back to the good ones - the things we heard on NPR. This blog probably won't always be about things I heard on NPR, but it's certainly a good start. The rest of the time I'll probably write about random things happening in my life, if I write about anything at all.

So current thought from NPR: Yesterday, I heard Kai Ryssdal (who would have thought he spelled his name that way) prompt a story about Barry Glassner's book which says that descriptions of food at the supermarket are intended to make us feel like we're doing a social action by buying "free range" or "organic" food. Since I'm currently reading the Omnivore's Dilemma, along with the lovely ladies in my book club, I was interested to hear more about what Michael Pollan calls "Supermarket Pastoral". (I love that term, it brings me back to my high school Latin class.) I was really excited that even though I missed the story, I was able to read the transcript at Tues Night Family Night (TNFN) on http://markeplace.org/, but then totally disappointed to find only the most superficial interview on the subject. Now I wonder whether all the other interviews on Marketplace are equally flimsy and I just didn't notice it because the topic isn't something I'm very familiar with like food, or if the rest of the interviews are great but this one is not so good. Besides this NPR discussion (and another few interviews today too), in the last couple days since I started reading the Omnivore's Dilemma every place I look seems to be related - I've read a couple articles already in an old issue of Time Magazine I had sitting around at home that were relevant, as was a blog I read very irregularly that I just happened to check. I wonder if everyone is obsessed with the dilemma of what to eat or if it's just me.