Archive for March, 2007

Cincinnati Airport, Catch 22 and Intelligent Design

Greetings from the Cincinnati Airport.  Stacy and I had a wonderfully smooth journey earlier today.  No traffic returning to Denver.  No lines at check-in.  And…on the first flight the two people in my row moved to an exit row, leaving a vacancy for Stacy to sit next to me for the first leg! 

The luck was bound to change and so it has.  My 7:40 flight to Greensboro now appears to be departing more than two hours late (knock on wood that it doesn’t get worse).  BUT– I’m at a “Connect and Recharge Center Courtesy of Delta Connection and Comair”.  Kudos to Delta Connection and Comair.  Free wireless was quite a treat.

I’ve been rereading Catch-22 and I seem to be getting a lot more enjoyment out of the Joseph Heller classic this time around.  I think I have strep throat to thank for that.  Because I was sick, I read a lot more pages in a more condensed time frame– so the various connections to earlier passages were more fresh in my mind. 

Anyway, here’s a passage I enjoyed on the plane.  Yossarian and one of his lovers (Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife) are discussing religion:

“And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,” Yossarian continued, hurtling over her objection.  “There’s nothing so mysterious about it.  He’s not working at all.  He’s playing.  Or else He’s forgotten all about us.  That’s the kind of God you people talk about– a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed.  Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation?  What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements?  Why in the world did He ever create pain?”

“Pain?” Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife pounced upon the word victoriously. “Pain is a useful symptom.  Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers.”

“And who created the dangers?” Yossarian demanded.  He laughed caustically.  “Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain!  Why couldn’t He have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs?  Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person’s forehead.  Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that.  Why couldn’t He?”

“People would certainly look silly walking around with red neon tubes right in the middle of their foreheads.”

“They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony or stupefied with morphine, don’t they?  What a colossal, immortal blunderer!  When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering.  It’s obvious He never met a payroll.  Why, no self-respecting businessman would hire a bungler like Him as even a shipping clerk!”

This passage reminds me of Ryan Somma‘s post on Evolution vs. Intelligent Design where he discusses the “design flaws” of the human body.  It is the blog post I have reread the most and referred to the most in my personal journals.  Go read it here.

P.S.  Although I very much appreciate and agree with Yossarian and Ryan Somma on these matters, my commitment to Lent remains the same.  It seems somewhere along the line I have developed my own little brand of religion. 

Thoughtful, but cheeseless and desertless in Cincinnati.  

March 31, 2007 at 8:29 pm 1 comment

Business Travel Essential Addendum

In December, I did a post covering my Business Travel Essentials.  I realized this trip (even though it is not for business) that I left out a crucial part!  I started this technique circa October 2005.  Before I leave the house for the airport, I take the sweatshirt I intend to wear on the planes or in the evenings when it is cold and I apply a hearty helping of my husband’s cologne.  Throughout my abscence, I’ll get quick and sometimes subtle whiffs of the scent.  It is just enough to make me feel like I’m home.

Interestingly enough, shortly after I started doing that, my husband switched his cologne.

“I’m trying to throw you off my trail,” he said.

Hopefully jokingly. 🙂

March 29, 2007 at 12:24 am Leave a comment

A New Experience, A New Investment?

Today wasn’t my best skiing day.  It was still great exercise and fun.  But, I struggled with the visibility (very foggy), the terrain changes (a nice mixture of powder, ice and slush), and my turn techniques.  Oh… and I fell.

Falling isn’t a sensation that is new to me.  I do tons of activities that encounter occassional falls.  As a child, my siblings and I biked extensively.  As an adult, I hike.  I rollerblade.  I iceskate.  I ski.  I even fell once jogging with the dogs.  I was trying to yank Jimmie out of a neighbor’s yard as he started to squat (moral of that fall: don’t try to play god with dog dumps).  In all those years of formidable falling experience, one aspect of the fall has alluded me– hitting my head.  That is…until today!

Me after my fall.  Note the snowy back of my head and the lack of snow on the rest of me.

Luckily, it was not a hard fall.  No physical damage was done.  But, the fact that the ground was able to impact my head period certainly provoked a multitude of thoughts the rest of the day.  I do believe I’ll be following in the footsteps of Carolyn and Stacy and investing in a helmet.

Now, a helmet may protect one’s head, but it will do nothing for the ego.  I happened to fall underneath a ski lift.  As I sat up and checked my pockets to make sure my wallet and my cell phone were still in their respective pockets, a kid called out to me from the ski lift, “I’m sorry you fell!”

That was surprising.  I thanked the kid and at the same time of his friends, also on the lift, started laughing at me.  This was the reaction I would expect from lift riders.

The first kid turned around and shouted back at them, “I *can’t* believe you guys!”

As much as I thought the first kid’s sentiment was unexpected and refreshing, I don’t think his defense of me is going to exactly put him in good standing with the “cool kids”.  In fact, he may have done more damage to his social standing than the fall did to my head.  🙂 

Welp, our ski vacation is more than half way over.  Hopefully there will be a stunning abscence of head hits for the rest of the trip.

March 29, 2007 at 12:03 am 4 comments

Greetings From Vail

Greetings from Vail, Colorado!

Transition from Spring to Winter
On Saturday afternoon, I took the dogs for a nice spring hike in Virginia.  We had wonderful warm weather and lots of sunshine.  On the drive back, I passed a house where a little girl was taking down a decorative snowman from her front porch.  Spring was definitely in the air…. and here I was leaving for a winter vacation the very next morning!

Thanks to my insistence to hike with the dogs on my last day home, I put myself in a frenzied situation where I was packing and preparing until 1 AM Saturday night.  That’s all fine and good except I needed to leave at 4:30 AM Sunday morning to get to Greensboro in time for my flight!  Needless to day, Sunday was a tiring day.  But all in all with such little sleep, every leg of the journey went by exceedingly smoothly.  Even my wee hour drive to Greensboro got kicked off with a bang.  As soon as I turned on the car, James Blunt’s “Your Beautiful” came on the radio. 

That song always reminds me of skiing!  Last year, Carolyn and I were skiing a sparse weekday at Snowshoe and that song was playing at one of the lift loading stations.  I was fond of that song already, but it was so much better as Carolyn and I ascended up the mountain and listened to it slowly fade away under the whir of the lift and the silence of the fresh mountain snow.  With that one song on my car radio, I was suddenly in the mood for winter again. 🙂

First Ski Day
Yesterday was my first day on the slopes.  Our crew currently includes Kipp, Stacy, Mike Newman, myself, Paul (Kipp’s brother) and Sarah (Kipp’s brother’s girlfriend).  At first, I thought, “This isn’t that much different than the east coast”, but then as our adventure progressed the views got exponentially more beautiful.  Sometimes, it felt like I was in a movie, all the scenery just did not seem real.  Riding up the chair lifts is a whole different experience because you have so much to look at.  And sometimes, a flat section was a bonus because you could afford to absorb the views (and rest your weary legs).

Last night, we had a wonder dinner at Ti Amo in West Vail/Avon.  It was expensive like all our meals here, but it was well worth the extra expense.  It was far above the caliber of the $5 bottle of Gatorade I had at the Two Elks Lodge.  🙂  I had a pasta entree that featured jumbo shrimp, garlic, mushrooms, a cream sauce (not cheese!) and sun-dried tomatos.  Very good.

We’ve had some casualties so far– Kipp sprained his thumb.  Stacy got sunburn and Kipp got a nice extended snow burn on his back.  Nonetheless, everyone is still having great fun. 

My new cell phone camera proved to be useful yesterday.  I took some pictures from the slopes and thanks to Flickr’s upload capability, I was able to upload them live from the slopes.  Here are a couples of pictures:

Mike Newman, Me (in my Rocky Mountain National Park shirt), Stacy

More of our Vail pictures are available on my Flickr site

March 27, 2007 at 12:25 pm 2 comments

News of Note

I heard some news tonight!  Basically, out of the three high school friends in the picture below, there is only one person who has not had or is not currently expecting a child:

Vicky, Stacy, Christina at our High School Grad Party in 1993

The odd one out would be yours truly.  Stacy is now a father!

Stacy holding his daughter, Addie 

You can read a bit about Stacy and Melanie’s daughter, Addison Grace, on his blog and you can see more pictures of her on his Flickr site.

Congrats to the proud parents!

March 23, 2007 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

The Last King of Scotland and the Distinctive Look of Evil

The first time I saw a photo of Osama bin Laden after 9/11, I was taken aback and just stared with my mouth agape.

“I know, ” Sean replied to my silence, “He doesn’t look like the kind of man who would do this.”

“No, he doesn’t,” I said.  He really didn’t.  He looked peaceful.  He looked grandfatherly.  He looked like Gandhi.  He looked very much like the way I picture Jesus.

Last week, Sean and I took advantage of Free Popcorn Night at the Lyric (aka Monday).  We saw The Last King of Scotland.  The film is about Uganda’s Idi Amin whose bloody reign killed an estimated 300,000.  We both really enjoyed the movie and I continue to find it thought-provoking.

I believe the film excelled in depicting the initial appeal and charisma of Amin.  You see him as jolly and happy, with such a big shining smile.  You hear him with hearty laughs and watch him exchange jokes.  You see his generosity.  You see him as he empathizes with the residents of the smallest villages and as he inspires large crowds with his vision for Uganda.

Idi Amin smiling and holding a child.  Stalin smiling and holding a child.

Even as you start to get exposed to his darker sides and his paranoia, it’s just hard to look at him and think he is capable of such evil.  How can a man with such good humour and who smiles so bright bring about so much death and destruction, so much hate and heartache?

So many people live their lives as if there is a magic formula to identifying evil.  If Skin Color is X. If Religion is Y.  If Sexual Preference is Z.  If they smoke cigarettes.  If, gawd forbid, they like heavy metal music.  If they ride a skate board.  If they wear veils in front of the faces, if they wear black trenchcoats, or even, if they wear a police uniform.  But you can’t weigh the quality of a man’s heart by looking at his exterior.  There is no distinctive look of evil.  It can can be peaceful and harmless looking.  It can be vivacious and smiling.  Evil can look like just about anything.

I found “The Last King of Scotland” to serve as a good reminder of that.

March 22, 2007 at 8:57 pm 2 comments

Unique Human Experiences

I think one skill that has aided me as a troubleshooter and a programmer is my ability to scavenge.  I refer a lot to web searches/knowledgebases and I incorporate the discoveries and “best practices” shared by others into my solution.  It still happens every now and then, but it is pretty rare that I come across a behavior or issue that no one else has posted about.  Even if everyone is complaining and no one has a solution to the issue at hand, at least I have the comfort of knowing I’m not alone.  Someone else is sharing my frustrations.

Well, thanks to the newsgroups and the ever-growing popularity of blogs, I don’t think that phenomen is limited to Microsoft mishaps, Oracle occurences and ASP.NET anomalies.  A few years ago, I ingested 32 ounces of Fierce Grape Gatorade.  The next day, I noticed a peculiar coloration in my poo.  It was very appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day and hard to miss– quite bright.  I mentioned it to my husband (yup, that’s the kind of things we discuss) and he happened to have noted the same distinct color in his droppings.  The dye in the gatorade was the culpit. 

Out of curiousity, I did a quick newsgroup search.  Back then, I found one lone guy out there talking about “fierce grape turds“.  Today if you do a search, you see dozens of mentions in various blogs and websites citing the same experience.  For example, “Gatorade Fierce Grape is key to seeing a mighty green poo.”

My keen sighting of the Dr. Grip in the movie, “Breach” is no longer a unique one.  It’s now mentioned in the IMDB forums and on at least one additional web site

This has me wondering.  Are unique experiences becoming an endangered species?  It seems a lot of what we encounter, be it a database crashing or having green poo, there is someone out there experiencing the same thing and rest assure, they are talking about it on the Internet! 

I’m not sure if this is an entirely good thing.  Sure, in this day in age, where neighbors are not necessarily neighborly and most people do not experience the community a religion could provide, running across others like yourself could be your community.  It could indeed make you feel like you are not alone in this world and I guess, at times, provide hope.  Apparently some folks found relief in reading about Fierce Grape Gatorade on

“My green poo came freom Grape Gatorade Fierce. I purchased an 8-pack of 20 FL.OZ. bottles and downed them all in 5 days. I was freaked out too. This site saved me a Co-Pay at the doctor’s office.” – GatorPoop

“This is a huge relief. I’ve been suffering from shocking green turds on and off for a few months now. I was worried that I might die… ” – Dizzee Rascal

But at the same time, isn’t it a bit of a bummer?  That a lot of your encounters with products, your opinions, your trials and even some of your random thoughts are not just your own?  Instead, the same thing is stored in the minds of numerous individuals across this great planet.  We’re part of a geo-redundancy scheme.

Well, since I profit both professionally and personally from web searches, I have a vested interest in our global knowledgebase expanding.  I guess if I ever do get to feeling a little indistinct, I can always console myself by thinking there is no one out there who is going to have all the exact same thoughts! 

Perhaps I can manage to sustain a monopoly on the ex-vomit-fearing; hiking; geocaching; rollerblading; beagle-bashing;  Project-Runway-watching; Malcolm-X-admiring; Discover-magazine-reading; female-web-applications-programmer perspective afterall.  🙂

March 22, 2007 at 7:42 pm 4 comments

People Love Their Pets

Hmm…I’ve had way more people alert me about the recent pet food recall than I have had for any of the “people food” problems, like February’s peanut butter recall.

March 20, 2007 at 2:33 pm 1 comment

People Love Their Mamas

Lately, I’ve seen a marked increase in my blog hits.  Apparently this has very little to do with me.  With almost two months to spare, I’m seeing an influx of searches for “Mother’s Day”, “Mother’s Day Cards” and “Mother’s Day Pictures”. 

In a way, I guess that’s uplifting.  People could be searching for a number of other things.  I’ve seen “fat naked grandma” and “LARGE MAN IN THONG” searches come through in the past week.  Stacy has had his self esteem boosted by someone finding his site searching for “20s no social life“.  Christina has had stuff like “grandma+grandpa sex” and Clint’s had his little troubles with fecalphiliacs.  The indiscretions of an American Idol contestant prompted “Antonella Barba”, “Antonella Barba pictures” and “Antonella Barba photos” to be the top search queries earlier this month (Interesting Time article on the phenemenon). 

So people searching for Mother’s Day cards, that’s pretty damn sweet as far as the Internet goes.

March 18, 2007 at 11:21 pm 3 comments

Bill C, Birthday Hero

This morning I had a very nasty dream.  I was involved in a woman’s crew team (I think this is an hommage to my colleague, Kim Elliott) and for some reason the team had a dispute and I retired to a public ladies room.  There, I found an extremely clogged toilet, a “dirty potty” one may say.  Apparently I felt somewhat responsible for the toilet’s state because I started to plunge it (I doubt I would have taken the initiative otherwise).  The plunging effort was far from successful and quite messy.  The more I plunged, the more messy the situation became.  Water and poop was getting everywhere– it splashed on my pants.  It got all over my copy of Catch-22 (which I was reading before falling asleep) and it was even getting in my hair.  Suddenly, Bill knocked on the front door, the beagle started arooing and I woke up. 

I can not thank Bill enough for getting me out of that mess.  What a well-timed gift.

March 18, 2007 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

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