Short scenes from the past weekend

Saturday: In small town, Maine: Got into a cab, the driver asked where we (my sister and I) were from, I answered, he asked where it was, what the weather there was like, and said he’d “look out for your sister since we are the only cab company in town and she will probably be using us any time she calls a cab”. We were complimented on our English-language skills despite being from a place he’d never heard of (though he seemed quite pleased to realise now he "knew where the highest mountain in the world was").

Monday: In Boston: Got mistaken for a local and two people asked me for directions. I guess it was the red tote bag I was carrying which had “2003 Food Industry Truck Driving Championship” written on it that made me look like a local? One questioner even said “You sound like a local”, which I’m assuming was merely because he’d only heard me say the words “I don’t know the way. I just got here today” (which rhyme). Despite Elizabeth's exhortations to me to visit BigName Uni, I didn't do it (maybe next time).

Tuesday: In Washington: Arrived at 7am and took the Metro into Uni. Sat next to a woman who asked me where I was from and then went on about her boyfriend’s parents who spoke to each other in their language (they had migrated to the USA from China) "despite being here for 20 years" and had “really bad accents which I can’t understand at all”.

I miss Maine. In the three days I was there, people drove us (my sister and I) around town, gave us lifts into town, shops and back to Uni and nobody mentioned accents or what not. They mentioned food (go for seafood and maple syrup apparently), animals (loons and moose, or should that be mooses? Meese?) and things to do (hike, swim, ski, climb various mountains and such; not much of anything else. The town does not even have a bookstore apart from the one at the College). No public transport though so I guess I need to get that licence I've been saying I'd get some time before my next trip up there.


Yet another blogquiz

And it's even possible that I've done this one before. Blame it on my brother, who insisted that I'm not a geek, I'm a nerd.

Modern, Cool Nerd
82 % Nerd, 65% Geek, 34% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!


Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in either of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 91% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 89% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 61% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid


Somebody needs to buy a dictionary

I'm not sure which is more disturbing--that the Mall is classified as a theme park, or that Cedar Point is considered a DC attraction.

From the Washington Post's Best of 2005:

Theme Parks

1. Paramount's Kings Dominion
Ten roller coasters wind throughout this 400-acre park near Richmond. Entrance into WaterWorks, a 16-acre water park with a 650,000-gallon wave pool, is included with admission. Kids can also meet their favorite Nicktoons character in person.

2. Busch Gardens
3. Disney World
4. Hershey Park
5. The National Mall
6. Six Flags America
7. Cedar Point
8. Williamsburg
9. Kennywood


Who, me?

Much blogging on the weekend in NC (not a giant bug to be seen, thank god) and some prospectus angst. But the trip up took much longer than it should have, so I'll save that for later.

How much longer? Let's just say that I had a scary thought as I tried to get through the Mixing Bowl--"At least I'm back on the Beltway, where the traffic isn't so awful."

Yeah, you read that right. The stop-and-go started just north of Richmond, and didn't let up until, well, 495. Or so I assume. I took a different route after an hour and a half of listening to the car next to me blast Eminem; I figured if I had to sit in my car at least there should be trees to look at.

The good news? It took me so long to get home that S finished the laundry. Which is nice. Not as nice as air conditioning and a cold beer, but still.

And the web quiz that's the reason for the stupid headline (by way of ABDmom):


"Mastermind". Introverted intellectual with a preference for finding certainty. A builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. 2.1% of total population.

Similar Minds


A tale of two cats…and a flat…and a lock

I did disappear for a while but am now back. Sort of. Thought I'd follow Elizabeth's example and write up a list of my own. Here it is:

1. Cats somehow sense when their people are away and start to let loose. In all senses. I had cats jumping on my shoulder, playing with my hair and throwing up/down on carpets all of last week. I wonder if there really is a cat detector van from the Dept of Housinge to check whether Elizabeth has got a licence for her cats?

2. It is possible to get locked out of one’s own bathroom. Actually, it is quite easy to do so. And, to realise afterwards that one can’t open the door since one does not have the key (I still say the lock didn’t have a keyhole). And, it is Friday night and so the management office is not open till Monday. Thankfully, there’s always a bloke called Willie about (no, no jokes about that, please).

3. It is possible to get locked out on one’s own balcony too. It is also possible to nearly get heatstroke while in close proximity to air conditioning. But, then, you have to depend on one’s sibling to rescue you from the balcony. This is quite unlikely since said sibling is usually too busy reading copious amounts of Calvin and Hobbes to actually bother about where her sister is (after locking the balcony door in the first place just so “thieves can’t get in”). This means standing out on hot balcony for what seems like an entire day. Result: potential heatstroke and increased blood pressure.

4. Cats are fun. I do think though they were suffering from weltschmertz and needed to be confused. Elizabeth might want to look into that. I hear there is an expert service available. Or was.

5. It is possible to do no Uni work during two entire weeks. Guilt has set in now but, since I still don’t have a converter for the plug to my computer, I can’t do much. I wonder how long this excuse will last for?

6. And, finally, just a quick question: did Kemal Ataturk really have an entire menagerie called Abdul?

A proper post will follow some time soon. People seem to be getting serious about all sorts of things lately. I just have this to say: Cricket can be an excellent sport. Even the five-day version. Even with Englishmen involved (Note for non-cricket watchers: The English are notoriously dull at cricket. Just like in any other sport they “invented”. But, the current England-Australia series is proving to be a classic. And, as a football fan, I’m not even that keen on cricket)

I'm going to post something useful...honest. Just not right now.

Reasons that it isn't a good idea to say you're going to blog when you return from vacation:

1. The hot water pipe in the parental home may burst, making it very difficult to catch up on laundry, etc.
2. By definition, you're behind on work. This cannot be avoided.
3. When you arrive home at 4:30am, you will need to go to the store (in this case, for cat litter.)
4. You may receive an invitation to your high school reunion, creating an overwhelming urge to bang your head on the desk and cry.
5. Having come to terms with #4, you realize that saying "I have a blog" is not nearly as impressive as "I have a prospectus." Therefore, you go back to #2, in an effort to undo all the relaxation gained by the vacation in the first place.

As penance, here is a photo of the sunrise from said vacation.


One more thing

Just for Priya's benefit: there was, in fact a shower. Although I'm not entirely sure that you can get clean when the shower spits out the occasional pine needle.

There wasn't a lock on the door, so there's one problem eliminated...

Vacation Photoblogging

Yes, I have returned from the great white north. Well, great green north. Twelve hours in the car (including the time we took to visit the World Famous Mystery Spot--more on that later) and much, much laundry mean that I'm not terribly coherent. It doesn't help that we're all walking around saying, "so vacation's over, eh?"

So more interesting posts starting tomorrow, with much better photos of sunsets and trees. For now, here's a frog. We think his name is Herbert.

I'm pretty sure my sister took the picture--she got a digital camera for graduation, and has been experimenting.


Off to the wild outdoors!

Well, it's really more the semi-wild outdoors. The rumor is that we'll even have running water this year. Not drinking water, but at least there will be a shower. Maybe.

Sidewalk Chalk

So there's a story behind this. It turns out that being a geek runs in families. On the Flickr account, everything drawn is neatly described--I happen to think it's worth a look.

Of special interest: the train is not just a train, it's a Santa Fe line passenger express. In the top left corner, an earlier illustration of Lincoln acquired an assassin--because, as the nephew explained, "everyone knows President Lincoln got shot."

And finally, the big green thing with the lines on top is not a boat; he says it's a lake freighter. And not just any lake freighter--it's the Arthur Anderson. The ship that was in radio contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald just before it sank. It has "working radar and a propeller that's running on full speed, because they're trying to make Whitefish Bay." There was no reason to draw the Fitzgerald, because it sank.

I think he needs to watch more television.


Dan's really big deck!

No, we're not on vacation yet. S and I are in Ohio, spending some quality time with family and, um, friends. And Dan. This photo is of Dan and his new deck.

Dan's deck is so large that he can stand on it, and you can hardly see him. As a matter of fact, we were all sitting on his deck last night.

Yeah, the jokes were really flying. At the time, Dan and his deck seemed really funny.

So here's the update (for Priya, since she's so disappointed that we don't have to carry a tracker. We're going to carry the cell phone, though, so I guess all she has to do is hack the phone company and she can track us with that.)

1. Dan has a really big deck (still looking for a single lawyer, Priya? Wouldn't a nice photographer be a better choice?)

2. Genius nephew built a model of the Edmund Fitzgerald out of lego. Complete with propeller and the captain, going down with the ship.

3. My sister got a new camera. This is exciting because my mom bought it for her, and paid retail. It wasn't even on sale. And she didn't leave the price tag on it.

It's driving my sister crazy that she doesn't know how much it cost.

4. We really need a car with AC. Or a place to live that doesn't have a heat index of 115 degrees for three months each year.

5. Ohio police are much more efficient than police in Maryland. Yesterday we saw three cruisers pulling over one car; in Ohio we saw one cruiser handing out tickets to three cars. Conclusion? Your taxes buy you more police enforcement in Ohio. Lucky Ohioans.

Off to babysit the nephew--I think I'll get him hopped up on sugar before sending him north with S and my dad tonight. Maybe I'll give him some caffeine too--just because S commented that I was spelling it wrong.


Yet more gravy blogging...

Did we mention that poutine squeaks when you eat it? Sort of like mice? When you chew?

As if the gravy isn't strange enough.

Also, they don't call it Canadian bacon up there. But they wouldn't need too, right?

How to get ready for a vacation (a marginally amusing email anthology)

Luckily, Priya's right and the RFID issue won't apply to me this year. I may be able to post while I'm gone, but I wouldn't put money on it. For your possible amusement, I'm posting a selection of vacation-related email chat before I go. As usual, there is some minor editing involoved.

E: [context: getting out of a meeting with Weberman that was scheduled for the day I was supposed to leave town; I described the problems with meeting as a socially constructed impasse. It was downhill from there.] I am going to a place where the internet does not reach, and so IM meetings are out, as is the wonderful TUWSNBN email system. I could travel 55 miles to the closest internet cafe, which is really just a computer with dial-up set up in the back of a trading post, but I won't. And not just because it costs so many Loonies.

I love my computer, but there are limits to my devotion to all things technologically advanced. There are fish with my name on them, and I intend to spend all my time catching and cleaning said fish, as I do every August. Perhaps I will even eat some of them. Or some of those fries with the gravy on them. I might even go crazy and buy some syrup, who knows?

Of course, I'm also going to be reading Power/Knowledge, everything I can by Meadows, Forrester, and Sterman, The Anarchical Society, and Wendt.

I'm trying not to think of the reading too often, and pretending I can, in fact, go on a real vacation. It's less depressing that way. A little less.

Priya's going to be housesitting for me while I'm gone. We're in disagreement over who's being done a favor in this situation.

P: just making sure:

cats get fed once a day in the evening. food place is in the kitchen near the sink. fresh water too.
any instructions on how much they eat? i'm sure you said it and i've forgotten (i was rather slow yesterday after a day of slaving away fantasising over my future lawyer-mate)

E: um. ok, going to leave the fantasy thing well alone. They get most of a bowl; it's about a cup and a half.

P: shouldn't leave my fantasy alone. should foster it. am trying to practice my non existent wiles.

E: can you practice them if they don't exist? is that like playing the air guitar? "air wiles"?

P: litter box gets changed when full. it is in the dark creepy place next to the entryway. you will leave changing stuff there too (and i presume it is obvious how to change it since i don't want to ruin the litter box)

E: yep. the dark creepy place is a closet, and it holds the alcohol as well, which you are welcome to enjoy while you're here. the litterbox container snaps in and out of place pretty easily. I think there are instructions--I can leave them out just in case.

P: instructions would be much appreciated but if it is clear enough (the mechanism) then no worries and i'm sure i can figure it out. don't be daft! i won't be drinking your alcohol (though may watch your tv/dvds. let me know if that's not okay/how to do it if there's any special stuff involved)

E: okay, well, if our booze isn't good enough for you...should be fine watching dvds, tv, etc. You have to turn the tv to the playstation and use that (the control is attached) to play dvds.

P: plants get watered often. will do this, no worries

we are (most likely) chatting on thursday evening about film.

E: that's the plan. it may be a little later, since I'm going shopping w/ my sister [20% off at Old Navy. Totally worth going back early.] You can log on from our computer if you like.

P: might have to. but not sure how. so prob won't. does it need instructions? special passwords? if you don't see me online thursday evening, assume i could not log in. my computer has decided not to function too well (and besides , i'm leaving it at the law school till friday so i won't have to lug it about)


P: question: can my sister and i swim in your pool?

E: I think so. Will check with the apt manager and make sure.

manager says yes--I'll leave out our cards for you. Just don't use the guest pass, because that requires our id for some reason. He didn't really explain it very well. I guess try to look like your names are Elizabeth and S?

P: any idea when yous are leaving? don't want to turn up on wed in case yous are not leaving then but don't want to pass up free night in the city in case yous are (is getting tedious now) :-)

E: we're leaving thursday morning, but you're welcome to stay wed. on the futon. we'll be pretty much packed up so there won't be stuff to trip over. [By pretty much, I mean not at all. We usually throw things in the car the morning we leave. But the not-tripping part is pretty accurate, since all our stuff is still put away.]

P: will prob come by early thursday to drop off backpack and then head to uni. if that's okay with yous. not TOO early but around 9-ish. (morning). thanks for the offer of the futon but i think i'm headed to the wilds of maryland this time. i think. or mara.

E: ok. will maybe see you then, if we haven't left yet. If we have, thanks again for housesitting. Not much in the fridge, but you're welcome to whatever there is. sauerkraut omelette, maybe? I think we have all the stuff in there for tuna salad. [I've actually eaten a sauerkraut omelette. It wasn't a pleasant experience. But then, I wouldn't eat buried spinach twice either. Or those fermented dough balls from the Ghana Cafe. So maybe I'm just picky.]

same goes for the cupboards. There may be some noodles up there somewhere.

P: btw, sorry about the rambling I and B email to you and Weberman. i am not as much of a nutter as i appear (though it is difficult to tell)

E: no harm, no foul. given my earlier email, he probably thinks we're both round the bend. [This would be the email above; I only quoted the part that didn't make me sound deranged.]

P: think you should have a break and forgot about uni stuff for a while. forget! go hunt fish!!

E: here, fishy, fishy...

P: ok, now that is disturbing...

E: what? it's my super-special fish call (as taught to be by my dear old gram. she also taught me to bluff in poker). I was practicing it. that way I'll be ready for next week.

And it isn't just Priya who has been subjected to the vacation-prep saga...GSpice thought we were just talking about my recently deceased prospectus draft.

E: prospectus has been tanked by SystemsGuru, without even having read it. He gave me a new reading list and instructions to return with a dynamic hypothesis and a reference mode before I do any more of my lit review. sigh. It's going to be a long year.

You'll note that I am, as usual, unable to think of a title.

GS: I'm pretty sure subsequent drafts will get you there. We'll brainstorm over ice-cream :-)

E: woohoo! coldstone or gelato? not that it really matters. All they have in Ontario is fries with gravy (Priya, I don't care if it has a fancy french name. It's still gravy.) Not even a funnel cake stand.

I may need to print this and cut it up. Guess that can be another vacation project (other than the "here, fishy, fishy" thing)


No email after Friday until the 14th (again, "here, fishy, fishy..."), but I'll try and have something reworked when I get back. How much of a geek am I if I take stuff by Sterman and Wendt with me on vacation? What about my laptop? Is there any way that reading about h5n1 while sitting in a boat ISN'T a geeky thing to do?? sigh. There was a time when I was cool. Well, cooler than this, at least :)

Off to pack, since we're driving to Ohio first thing in the morning...

Thanks for the feedback (get it? feedback? oh, never mind.)

Of course, as a systems person, I can argue that cramming my personal and professional issues is theoretically sound. I think. Well, maybe not the fish thing.


Big Brother is Watching

My fellow blogger is about to leave for the land up north, where they eat Poutine (as I found out on Friday) and club baby seals (it is necessary for sustainable growth of the seal population, apparently. The clubbing is just so that the sealskin does not get damaged so it can be used to make the coats that keep some of us warm in winter) and also have state-sponsored health care (phew).

I just wanted to point out that if it were me driving up north, my car would have been issued with a “wireless tracking device”. I have to admit I’m keen on driving up north now that I’ve heard of this (though I don’t even have a licence as of yet) just to get one of these. In case I do so, yous can then watch me online (probably) and track me as I venture across the northern reaches of North America. Unfortunately, we can’t do that with Elizabeth (she's not a foreigner so won't have this benefit) so you won’t be getting updates of her progress up there.