Thursday, November 22, 2007

DMV on MySpace

The California DMV now has a MySpace page, as well as a bunch of YouTube videos intended to help people be better drivers. I haven't checked them out, but the idea is very clever. Towards the end of the NY Times article about this development, I laughed out loud at this unexpected punchline:
As is perhaps less than surprising for a D.M.V. MySpace page, the department has fewer than 40 friends.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Declaring war on junk e-mail

On a daily basis, I get probably 15-20 junk email messages. They're not quite spam, because at some point or another I actually either signed up for it, or bought something that put me on the list. I get 1-2 "personal" messages a day, if that. It really is out of control. It's as bad as, if not worse than, junk postal mail. To wit, my inbox today:

B.A. Framer
UCSD Alumni Association
US Mint
Harris Teeter (x2)
New York Times (x2)
Eddie Bauer
News & Observer

Yesterday, many of the above, PLUS:
Star Tribune
Trip Advisor
Longhorn Steakhouse
Holiday Inn Express
US Airways

And that's not even counting all the emails I have automatically labeled "promotions" and set to bypass my Inbox: Bath & Body Works, NewEgg,, Talbots,, Borders, Body Shop, Comp USA. I don't unsubscribe outright, because often there are valuable coupons in these emails, but nor do I want to see them every few days, when I purchase from these vendors only a couple of times a year. Thank goodness for the Gmail filter option. I'm off to create more filters, so I can basically reserve my Inbox for REAL emails.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

No, really, what were they thinking?

Going through photos from my training trips...came across this one...didn't know why I took it at first, but when I zoomed in, it became clear. Or rather, unclear...

Seriously, WHO thought that sign would help anyone?

Taco Town

This is one of the funniest SNL commercials ever!

Friday, November 16, 2007


I work in a great office with awesome bosses. Just for fun, they rented those giant padded sumo costumes and let us all "fight" each other starting at 4 last Friday. It was nuts! They also provided pizza and beer, so a fun time was had by all. Here's a shot of one of the company's owners fighting our director of marketing:

I opted not to don the sweaty suit and instead had fun taking the photos. My manager went up against one of the people in our department and got whooped--after the winner was declared, though, he went ballistic and kept attacking him! It was hilarious! This is a photo of their bout:

Adorable puppy

I was waiting at the signal by my house, which is like 4 minutes long, and beside me was a pickup truck. I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye, so I looked over, and saw the cutest little puppy in the back! I rolled down my window and talked to him, and he got all excited. (I was kinda afraid he might try to jump out, but he seemed to be tied down pretty well.) I don't like the idea of driving with a dog in the back of a truck, but boy he was adorable.

Of course it made me want to get one. Whenever I see cats or dogs, I have a visceral reaction. My whole face lights up and I immediately want to pet and hold them. Recently, I was parking at a hotel in South Carolina, and I saw a cat run into the bushes. I tried to find it so I could give it some luv, but wasn't able to. I think especially when I see an animal in an unexpected place, the rush is even stronger. I wish I could have 10 dogs and 10 cats, but that's just my tendency to want too much of a good thing, because I know that in reality that would be so much work, not to mention chaotic.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Answers to questions

From David Pogue's email newsletter:

Why do the signal-strength bars on my cellphone change when I’m standing still?

The signal indicator isn’t a live depiction of your cell strength. The phone needs to send out a “ping” to the tower from time to time to figure out if it is still connected. You may be in a spot where you get full signal strength, then move to a dead spot, and the phone won’t know for a set interval (30 seconds or so, I believe) until it pings again and figures out the new strength. Thus, you stand there with 4 bars and then suddenly get 1 or 0. If it were a live update, the battery would drain a heck of a lot faster.
* * *
Often the signal is being reflected off buildings and or terrain and that will give you varying signal strength. This may also explain why sometimes you can’t make a call even though you’ve got enough bars as reflected signals are weak anyway.

Why is the numeric keypad on a computer (7-8-9 at the top) upside-down from the numeric keypad on phones (1-2-3 on top)?

When 10-key touch-tone telephones were invented it was decided that folks accustomed to 10-key calculators would type in the numbers faster than the then-developed equipment could handle, so the numbers were inverted.
* * *
The computer keypad is a legacy of the adding machine/calculator and is mostly used by bean counters, who are too old to learn new tricks. The phone keypad is a legacy from the rotary dial, with the 1 on top and 0 at bottom. The dial had the alphabet to contend with. No one wants to see that upside down.

Why aren’t elevator buttons double action? Press once to go to floor, press again to cancel. It would save all those “OOPS! — I hit the wrong button” moments.

I live in Korea — almost all the elevators are “one push on/second push off” style. Most in Japan, too. Much more sensible, and if that annoying kid who presses them all shows up, easy to fix. Though one time I had someone unpush my floor because they thought they had pushed it by mistake, and so I had a bit longer elevator ride. But over all, a definite plus.
* * *
Because there are people who think punching a lit elevator button makes it come faster. Really. Drop in to my office.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Annual Wake County Library Book Sale

This was my second year going to the book sale. I asked to leave work early so I could get there before the evening rush, and snag the best titles. Here's a look at the book buying madness:

And here's my take. Not bad for under $60.

I think my favorite find of the evening was Wicked. But I'm also excited to read the memoirs of Bill and Hillary, the David Sedaris book, I Know This Much Is True, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and The Secret Life of Bees.

Some of the books are stacked, because I didn't have enough room. The biggest stacks are the chick lit novels and the cookbooks. I got a couple church compilations. I think those will probably have the best recipes, because they're everyone's favorites. Flipping through the pages, they seem very simple to make.

You can visit the sale if you live in the Raleigh area. It's going on through Sunday, and the prices get even cheaper come the weekend. Details here.

Cutest little car

You've got to watch this video. The whole thing. It's so cool!

Animal-lover's dilemma

There's a trial going on right now in Galveston, TX. You may have heard about the man, James Stevenson, who shot and killed a cat because he claimed it was stalking endangered birds. He admits to killing the animal, and even to the act being premeditated, but he insists he was doing it to protect the birds. Apparently the case has drawn attention from bird lovers and cat lovers alike, and both sides are strident in the defense of their positions.

I myself am a cat person. In fact, my care for birds is so low that I even consent to eat the chicken and turkey variety. So of course I think this guy deserves to be punished. The key factor in the case, which will determine whether or not he is convicted, is whether or not the cat was feral, or belonged to someone. It lived under a bridge, so was not a traditional pet, but the bridge's toll taker did feed it and provide toys, so in my opinion, that makes the cat his pet.

However, I do see his point about the cat being a problem for the birds. But isn't that nature's way? It's one thing when a species is bordering on extinction due to human destruction of its habitat, but when the animal's own natural predators are to blame, I think that's called "survival of the fittest."

Here's the link to the article in the NY Times (free registration required), if you care to read more.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me!

I wish I could put little musical notes in the title of this post, because it is supposed to be sung! I'm 32 today. I celebrated with my parents on Saturday by going to Longhorn Steakhouse. I had the salmon, which is always well prepared, and the Chocolate Stampede for dessert.

From the menu:
Two peaks of chocolate cake packed with six types of chocolate including chocolate mousse, fudge icing and chocolate shavings! Served with vanilla bean ice cream, fudge sauce and whipped cream.

It was divine! The texture of the cake layer was a little gooey and brownie-like, and the 2 kinds of chocolate mousse were rich and dense. The whole combination was super yummy. If you order it, which I highly recommend for birthday extravagance, keep in mind there is enough for 4 people!

Sunday, my indulgence was Kraft macaroni and cheese for dinner. Extreme comfort food, I'm telling you. Today, my last day of diet debauchery, I was going to have KFC's chicken and mashed potato bowl for lunch, but a coworker offered to take me out so we're going to a little Mediterranean place across from Meredith College. Maybe I'll save the KFC for dinner! Then tomorrow, it's back to reality. I can't wait to get my bloodwork results back from my doctor. I was SUCH a good girl for five whole weeks--I hope my triglycerides went down dramatically, or I'll be very discouraged.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mark Twain House

I was looking through all the pics on my memory card, and realized I never got around to posting about my visit to the Mark Twain house. It was a nice little tour, if on the pricey side. Our guide was one of the originals who started when the house first opened to the public. He was very knowledgeable, if not terribly animated. Pictures of the inside of the house are not allowed, but it was like you'd expect any Gilded Age house to be: very over the top. What was interesting to me was that Twain had it built very early in his career, when he was only in his 30's. I asked the guide how he could afford such luxury at that point, since the typical writer we all envision is struggling to make ends meet. But he apparently married well, and even his first book was very successful and made him quite a bit of money.

One anecdote from the tour that I thought was funny was about the bed that Twain bought while in Venice, Italy, and had shipped back to Connecticut. He slept with his head at the footboard, so he could face the headboard. His philosophy was that he spent so much money on this bed, that he wanted to be able to enjoy its beauty rather than have his back to it.

Here are a couple of photos:

Main House

Main House, angle 2

Carriage House

During the tour, one of my fellow onlookers seemed really familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place her. Something told me she had something to do with teaching, though. After the tour, I asked her if she was from California. Yes. Southern? Yes. Involved in teaching? Yes. In Santa Clarita? Yes. Turns out, she was one of the frequent substitutes at the junior high I worked at. Man, it's a small world!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


David Pogue, the NY Times tech columnist, gathered these questions from readers. Number 3 is a fabulous idea!
  1. Why can't I order TV channels a la carte, so that I just pay for the ones I want?
  2. Why do the signal-strength bars on my cellphone change when I'm standing still?
  3. When we are put on hold, we offered numerous options--"press 1 for sales," etc. Why not an option to press for "Mute this annoying music," or maybe to select different types of music?
  4. Why is there a Maximum Weight notice in an elevator, and what are we supposed to do about it? How are we supposed to know how much we collectively weigh?
  5. Why is the numeric keypad on a computer (7-8-9 at the top) upside-down from the numeric keypad on phones (1-2-3 on top)?
  6. Why aren't elevator buttons double action? Press once to go to floor, press again to cancel. It would save all those "OOPS!--I hit the wrong button" moments.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Unexpected civility

As always, I never expect anyone but friends and family to read my blog, let alone comment, so it was nice to see that others stopped by and were compelled to say a few words. I was very impressed with the mature and thoughtful comments left by the two guys. They both make very valid points. Just because a guy's looking online doesn't mean he stops being a guy. And, I shouldn't let the closings get to me because it really IS their loss. I guess signing up for the service was kind of like buying a lottery ticket--it's easy to get caught up in the daydream of what you'll do with all the money when you win, but in reality, it's a lot harder than it seems to strike the jackpot. I keep getting 6 more matches a day (what's up with that?) and a couple more have indicated they want to start communication, so it's not like a barren desert or something. There are little flickers of possibility...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Rocky start to eHarmony

I joined eHarmony last week. I'd been meaning to for quite some time, but kept putting it off because I didn't think I was ready for a relationship. Now, I guess, I am. Or at least I thought I was. I was feeling pretty good about myself--job's going well, my house is settled, I'm in a good exercise routine, I wasn't pining away for old times. So, you know, time to start thinking about finding someone to spend time with.

Years ago, I had a profile on another service, Spring Street, which is accessible from lots of different websites. I joined through, but they're also seen on The Onion, Nerve, etc. So I'm not exactly new to the whole online dating thing. But it's gotten to the point where finding someone online is no different than finding someone in a bar. It's all about looks. So I thought that maybe eHarmony would be a better route, since instead of just posting a profile and waiting for people to email, they actually match you up with people, and it's supposed to be a "serious" mate-finding site.

Well, I took the much-hyped personality profile, and much to my surprise, they found me 6 matches right away. I was stoked, because I had been very specific about age, religion, and geographic location. So I checked these guys out. They looked decent, right around my age, in good professional jobs, and they sounded pretty well grounded. Yippee! So I started the "guided communication" process. This entails selecting five multiple choice questions from a list of about 50, and sending them. I asked things like, "What is your philosophy on travel?" Then you wait for their responses. And wait.

As if 6 matches weren't enough, I got 6 more the next day. It was raining men! But then I started getting the dreaded "CLOSED." This is where you can basically indicate you're not interested in someone by ending communication. Since all the guys were local and around my age, with similar interests, etc., I didn't expect to get closed before we even started communicating! But sure enough, my first one came before I'd even had a chance to read his profile, and his reason: Other. Oh, that's helpful. And ever since then, for every 6 matches I get (I don't know why they come in batches of 6) at least 2 close me out right away. Sometimes they say they're in another relationship--ok, then why is your profile still accepting matches? One even said "There's too much going on in my life right now." Again, why doesn't he turn off his profile? Which leads me to believe that these "reasons" are just a way to let someone down easy. It's hard not to be a little discouraged. I posted several pictures of myself, and of course I think they're the best ones, and to think that someone would just be like, "Nah," well that kind of hurts. I mean, I can't expect everyone to find me attractive and find my profile interesting, but any form of rejection is a tiny blow to the ego. And naturally I start to assume that these guys are rejecting me simply because I'm not skinny. And if you read their profiles with that in mind, it is very disheartening. Almost all of them make some reference to how important being physically fit is to them. Which is just code for "no fatties." Fine, whatever, I don't want to be with someone who focuses so much on weight anyway. But if you go out to any public place, like the grocery store, Walmart, wherever, you see overweight women with husbands and kids, and I have to wonder: "If they found a guy, WHY CAN'T I????!" It is incredibly frustrating.

If signing up hadn't been so expensive (I joined for 3 months) I would be tempted to just forget about it. But I think I'll just let the matches keep on coming, and we'll see if anyone is interested. I am in communication with two guys right now, so at least there's that. We'll have to just wait and see.