Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Gimme or Moo

My new favorite language is either Gimme or Moo, both of which I learned of while exploring the ethnologue yesterday for work. The palindromic novelty of Manam and Malayalam is so last month. Out with the old, in with the Gimme!

Sunday, August 29, 2004


This is it: we've now become a two-TiVo household. There's no going back now. With 40-hour Series 2 TiVos now $80 at Best Buy, how can you afford not to buy one? Or live with someone who will buy one? And how can you afford not to hack it so it holds three zillion hours? Or to live with someone who can hack it so it holds three zillion hours? So take that, FOX! That'll teach you to move The OC opposite Survivor!

Chris is delighted to have gotten this with football season nigh upon us, so now he'll be able to continue recording stuff while I commandeer the TV all day every Sunday and every Monday night.

Speaking of football season being nigh upon us, what is even more nigh upon us is the draft for my fantasy football league. I am very excited. The Giants are going to suck this year, and I don't have much hope for the Seahawks. However, I am determined that my own fantasy team will prosper and succeed, which roughly translates into at least beating my sister's team.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Da doo run run run

Keep those music suggestions coming!

I've been thinking about my race schedule for the upcoming several months. I think I've been persuaded to drop the Seattle marathon and do the half instead; I have several friends who are at least thinking of doing the half, so assuming at least some of them come through (I'm looking at you, Ben and Chad!), it might be more fun to race that one myself. I'm really sad to miss Hood to Coast this year -- I'm hoping I can find some team to join up with next time around. Beyond that I'm not sure. I have vague ideas of doing the Vancouver marathon in May, but it's a long time between now and May. I need to find some other races to fill the time. Erin and I are talking about doing a race together sometime next year, maybe a half-marathon. In training for her first triathlon (race is next week!) she's been smitten by the running bug. So we need to figure out a good race to organize a weekend around.

In general I need more running partners, preferably ones who are close to my speed, live in my neighborhood, and are willing to run in the morning before work. Not that I'm picky or anything. Almost everyone I know is appreciably faster or slower than I am, which is good for the occasional speed workout/recovery run but isn't so great for every day. Not that I'd want to run with someone every day. I enjoy the solitude and quiet of running alone, especially early in the morning.

In other news, Darren and Kalyani are arriving this afternoon for a little over a week in Seattle and environs. We've been trying to think of good things to do with the weekend. La Carta de Oaxaca is definitely on the list, but it turns out that they may want to do stuff other than eat.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


I picked up the Neulander CD this past weekend after hearing the wonderful track "Flying" on KEXP a couple of weeks back. NYC slowertwitch readers (and I know there are at least a couple of you!), do you know anything about this band? I'd encourage you to go see them if you have the opportunity. No idea how good they are live, but I'm really enjoying the album and I suspect they could be really good in concert. A little like The Lovemakers but a whole lot better.

Our Magnetic Fields tickets came in the mail this week. I've seen them twice before and neither time was transcendant, and yet I keep going back. Though the first time I saw them they opened for Yo La Tengo (now there's a good live band) and hadn't heard them much before and it was enough to make me run right out a buy a bunch of their stuff, so it couldn't have been too bad. In any case I'm looking forward to the show.

I've been feeling the need to expand my musical horizons lately. I find KEXP very reliably enjoyable from 6am-2pm every day, and I find it reliably about half-enjoyable from 2-6pm, but I'm listening to so many more albums now that I listen to music at work most of the day that I'm starting to feel the need to supplement our collection. If there's anything you've especially enjoyed lately, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


This was a long day. A few days a week I've started staying at work super-late. I bring my laptop and try to squeeze in an hour or two of my own writing (must stay on the Five Year Plan) after finishing work I get paid to do and before going home. I make quiet time to get things done this way and I can cruise on home after the horrible bridge traffic has abated. I think this schedule is going to work out for me.

This contracting situation has been interesting. I had some reservations initially because I wanted something permanent right away; however, I also wanted 1. not to move and 2. to do something with linguistics that was applied and interesting. It was certainly a good move to take the position, and it's giving me lots of ideas for extensions for the work I'm currently doing, either in this group or in another context. It's one of my first experiences on the product (e.g. not research) side of things, and I'm learning a lot from it. In thinking about whether research or application is a better long-term match for me, I'm not 100% sure, but I do think that my best match for me is likely to be right at the intersection of the two -- either as the researchy theoretical person in an applied product-oriented setting or as the applied person in a research setting. I like working with people who know about different stuff than I know about; they know a lot that I can learn.

One thing I've realized is that this group and a few other groups are seriously underlinguisted. I'm finding that I get a lot of general questions that it's outside my job description to answer, but they're (mostly) really interesting questions and in many cases it seems like people have been trying to find answers for a while but haven't had anyone to ask. This is both true of some people I'm working directly with and of some people in other groups entirely, for whom word has gotten out that I like to talk about linguistics and I answer e-mail. It's a pretty interesting state of affairs. In a lot of these groups I actually think there's a need for a sort of linguist-at-large position, at least if my experience in the last couple of months has been any indication. I'm really enjoying this aspect of my job.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Women's marathon

The one Olympic event where I don't go all U!S!A! insane is distance running. I guess this is because I follow it in between Olympics so I'm familiar with all the major athletes -- I have something on which to base my fandom other than NBC's shlocky human interest stories.

This women's marathon is one of the great track and field events of this year at least. This race by Deena Kastor for the bronze? Moving up from 18th to 3rd? Where'd she come from? Paula Radcliffe dropping out? Who saw that one coming? I may be the only person who is glad that NBC aired this race in its entirety, but man, what an inspiring race.

I guess that's what it is about the Olympics. Most people are never going to do anything as well or as competitively as these athletes do, but the fact that they do it -- they elevate themselves beyond what should be possible -- is just inspiring.


Someone posted a comment about Outfoxed further down the page. Well, we saw it last night. It wasn't anything too surprising -- definitely a preaching to the choir kind of movie -- if you already recognize FOX/Rupert Murdoch as a right-wing propaganda machine, you're going to find that there's no new ground here, and if you're the sort of person whose major media source is FOX, you're probably not seeing this movie. Still, there were a few good clips.

The more I watch stuff like this the angrier I get, though. I suppose that's the intention, but sometimes it makes me angry in unproductive ways: it makes me angry that my mother is campaigning for George W. Bush, and that my father doesn't like George W. Bush and was ardently opposed to the war in Iraq but is voting for the guy anyway. My first reaction after watching that movie last night was not, "I'm hopping mad at Rupert Murdoch/George Bush/Karl Rove" or anything so sensible; it was more like, "I'm hopping mad that my mother could be so stubborn and irrational about all this." Which, no matter what your politics, says more about my mother and me than it does about any media bias or bogus justification for military activity.

In the meantime, though, there's still this election. With the country so polarized it's shaping up to be very close. Polls may be changing minutely from day to day, but it seems as though most people have already made up their minds. Of course, with things so close, it only takes a small number of people shifting from one candidate to the other to produce a different outcome. The enduring frustration of everything for me is that I think John Kerry is just sort of... fine. Better than the alternative, but by how much?

Friday, August 20, 2004


Did anyone else know that "Gymnastics -- Trampoline" is an Olympic sport? I can't imagine that this isn't just a big joke. Any minute the IOC is going to say HAHAHA GOTCHA!

Thursday, August 19, 2004


TiVo totally changes the way I'm watching the Olympics. I can boop on through sports or commentary that I don't want to watch to get to the good stuff. I can get coverage of events that are airing while I'm asleep or at work. I can pause anywhere I want -- TiVo is a synchronized diving team's greatest tool and nightmare.

One downside of Olympic week is that I'm really falling behind on my reading. My book queue is getting longer and longer. I'm still working my way through The Design of Everyday Things, which has reinforced my belief that usability is essentially applied cognitive science. I have another usability book ready to go behind it (The Inmates Are Running the Asylum), plus the DFW stories, plus Harper's and a ton of other little things.

I'm finding myself missing the pornography of time again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

More Olympic spirit

You have to be a total Olympic-grinch if you're not enjoying the men's swimming events this year. (Here's where I put on the hat that makes me a two weeks out of every two hundred and eight expert, but... ) It's really exciting to watch even when online headlines anticipate and ruin the results before they're aired -- and that's really saying something, especially when I don't particularly follow the sport at any other time. I'm loving it.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Olympic spirit

During the Olympics I become everything that I am usually not. I hate the idea of judged sports -- give me a timed race or a game where you have to score points any day -- and yet during the Olympics I watch gymnastics and diving like a crazed person. Synchronized diving has been a revelation. Stuff I don't watch at any other time -- for two weeks every four years I become an Expert. Shit, I even like the schlocky human interest stories. I become totally U!S!A! in the war of Olympic geopolitics.

Everything that I am not, or everything that I am only secretly.

And man, track and field hasn't even started yet.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Garden State

Last night Chris and I saw our own personal double feature: Garden State and (finally!) Spiderman 2. I don't have much to say about Spiderman 2, but Garden State was really great, and I think at least some of you would really like it. I'd wanted to see it while it was at SIFF this year but never got around to it and was very disappointed about that, so I'm glad -- and after having seen the movie, not at all surprised -- that it's gotten enough attention on the festival circuit that it's in wide distribution now.

I'd never seen Zach Braff in anything else before (never watched Scrubs), but he did a really good job with this movie (starring, directing, writing). I'm definitely interested in seeing more of his stuff.

Go see it and let me know what you think. One thing that's interesting: apparently they shot an alternate ending (the alternative and juncture point are fairly clear when you see the movie). Still trying to decide which I like better.

Saturday, August 14, 2004


Okay, got around to trying Lola last night, which is a much ballyhooed Greek restaurant from Tom Douglas. It's actually more like pan-Mediterranean. I wrote a review of this for egullet, the text of which is here for Seattleites.

All four of us were a bit disappointed. Summary: little was really wrong, but little was really right. It was... okay.

We started with the spread sampler where we found quality to be mixed. We generally liked the creamy feta, the tsatsiki, and the eggplant, and we found we roasted red pepper and especially the carrot to be lackluster. The griddled pita was great -- too bad there wasn't nearly enough of it to go with the (not particularly generous) portions of spreads. Just charge me more and throw in more pita, for goodness sake (instead of making me order more later).

We moved on to Jackie's Greek salad, dolmades, pork kebobs with harissa and honey, and mushroom kebobs. I liked the meze more than I liked the kebobs. I thought the dolmades were particularly good -- the hint of coriander worked well. The much vaunted Greek salad was good, the feta topping it was creamy and delicious, and it looked beautiful. For $9 I would have liked a little more of it. The pork kebobs were okay, but the mushroom kebobs were very disappointing. The mushrooms were very dry and not very flavorful.

For our main meal we shared the mixed seafood tagine and the roast rabbit, complemented by the horta (escarole and chard) and the fried garlic potatoes. Everyone agreed that the potatoes were superb and the mixed seafood tagine was also very good -- excellent seafood simply prepared. The horta was okay but not very interesting. Our group was split on the rabbit, with one person really liking it and the rest of us disappointed. I thought the rabbit itself was very dry, but the broth it was in was light and flavorful.

At the behest of one of our party we tried some of their house wine that is apparently made especially for them. Both white and red were drinkable but unremarkable, so I don't have much more to say about the wine. The wine list looked reasonably interesting.

For dessert we shared the doughnuts and the goat's milk pie. Doughnuts were okay and goat's milk pie was wonderful (but again, at $7 a pop it would have been nice to have a little bit more).

We didn't have the service problems that everyone else is talking about, although we did have a very long gap between our meze/kebob course and our main course. The place was way too noisy, as everyone has said.

All in all I thought it was okay, but for the same money we could have had a truly fabulous meal at several other places around town. I'd go along on group expeditions in the future, but otherwise I don't plan on returning any time soon. There are too many better places to eat.

This all makes me feel like an unspeakable yuppy.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I'm seven!

Today is Noelle's birthday. She turns seven. For presents Chris and I gave her a lot of the essentials of childhood: legos, etch-a-sketches (classic and heart-shaped), and, as a concession to her own actual taste, a jewelry-making kit.

My seventh birthday is the first childhood birthday that I have distinct memories of. I remember waking up in the morning and feeling like something really important had happened to me. I waited for the clock to read 7:12 (which I knew was when I was born) and then I did a little song and dance around my room that went:

I'm seven!
Oh yeah, I'm seven!
Seven is really big,
Oh yeah, I'm seven!

Happy birthday, Noelle!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Anything boys can do...

From time to time I read other blogs. One of the other blogs I read is this one:


This morning while I was catching up on some recent entries I happened along the author's post about women's colleges (Monday, Aug 9, 9:05pm).

I've gone back and forth about this over the years. In principle I really oppose single sex education. The world has two sexes, and men and women should be socialized to interact with each other as peers both personally and professionally. On the other hand, the success rate of girls' schools and especially women's colleges speaks for itself: more than half the math/science PhDs awarded to women in the 1990s went to women who had attended one of a handful of elite women's colleges as undergraduates (Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Smith, etc.). And girls studying in single sex schools tend to outperform their female peers in coed schools, especially in math and science.

What such studies often neglect to mention is that women attending elite women's colleges are, well, elite. A better study would compare these women not to women everywhere but to women attending MIT, Princeton, Northwestern, and other elite coed institutions. And when you start considering those numbers, things start looking a lot more balanced. Even girls' schools usually select for many factors other than gender, simply by virtue of the fact that the vast majority of them are private.

However, my real problem with single sex education is not whether or not it is effective -- and it has often been effective -- but rather whether it is a reasonable approach to fixing the problems with coed education simply by herding all the smartest girls and women into their own classrooms. That there is bias in education is not particularly controversial; there are myriad studies showing that even from a very early age girls get less attention from their (often female) teachers than boys do. I wasn't aware of this bias as a learner -- I'm pretty assertive and certainly didn't suffer from lack of attention from my male or female teachers -- but I became aware of it bigtime when I started teaching, where I'd find myself struggling to remember to give as much energy to my (often quieter, less assertive) female students as I instinctively gave to my male students who were more likely to demand my attention.

But it disturbs me that our way of handling the status quo is to calmly accept it and respond by segregating one sex from the other. What kind of a message does it send to boys if they don't get to/have to interact with the brightest, most assertive girls while growing up? What does it mean for us to just accept that in order to give girls a fighting chance at equal achievement we need to isolate them and remove them from coed environments?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Poodle skirts and differential equations

I was talking to Darren just before and he was telling me about this math conference he's going to this week. Because Darren is a mathematician, this is normal Darren behavior.

However, then he told me that as part of this conference there is going to be a sock hop tomorrow night. I'm loving this. Imagine the scene: dozens of youngish but not young math dorks clad in poodle skirts and black leather jackets talking about topology and alegbra, slow dancing two feet apart. What a great gig for the band they hire.

Darren said he's skipping the sock hop. The fact that I view this as the squandered opportunity of the conference may say something about why I'm no longer an academic.

Monday, August 09, 2004

What have you done for me lately?

The NFL has announced a gala event complete with musical extravaganza for opening kickoff:


Astoundingly, they haven't invited Janet Jackson.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Give me an X squared!


I don't know if math should be an Olympic sport, but Puzzle Safari (the puzzle-solving event where answers are locations on the Microsoft campus and participants need to run from location to location to collect hidden stamps) totally should be.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Blue Angels

This afternoon we went to a Blue Angels viewing party and tonight we're going to Ben's party to celebrate his sister's return from Iraq. Festive (and pseudo-military) day. (Started the day with a ten mile run and ran a commando clothes shopping mission post- this afternoon's party, staying on theme.)

The Blue Angels were pretty cool. We watched from the dock outside a coworker's apartment on Lake Washington. I'm wondering how close together the planes are when they fly in formation, and how the pilots are selected. Chris said that he thinks their tours of duty as Blue Angels only last a couple of years -- -- pretty good gig while it lasts, if you're a fighter pilot.

It started me thinking about the military, and what the military gains in terms of PR from having exhibitions like the Blue Angels touring around. Ben's sister, whose return we'll be celebrating tonight, was a private contractor in Iraq (she used to be in the army). They offered her a lot of money to do some highly specialized munitions cataloguing that she'd been trained to do while in the military herself. She lived only a mile or two outside Fallujah and it sounds like for many of her months over there she couldn't even leave the compound where she lived because it wasn't safe to do so.

A performance like the Blue Angels puts most of the media coverage of the war in Iraq in another light. After all, people like fast planes.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Livin on a Prayer

Was everyone but me aware that there is currently a dance cover of "Livin on a Prayer" that is tearing up C89.5 and dance clubs nationwide?

I heard it this morning on my way to work. I can't decide whether I'm more amused or horrified. I called Meredith right away to tell her to go to C89.5's streaming audio feed online, and all she said was, "Oh, that? They've been playing it for weeks. I kind of like it."

I'm always the last to know.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Quincy Carter! (Tim Brown! Oh my!)

The Dallas Cowboys announced today that they cut Quincy Carter:


To which I say: whoa.

I know they were on the fence about him, but dumping him in favor of Vinny Testaverde just doesn't make sense. There must be something else afoot here. Drugs? Crime? Parcells apparently said they couldn't "risk" keeping Carter around, and the whole manner of the transaction was strangely clandestine.


White chocolate Kit Kats

I am developing a soft spot for white chocolate Kit Kats. Does that make me a bad person?

FOX News and polls

This morning when I was stretching after running I was interviewed by FOX News. Their vans were crawling all over Capitol Hill this morning -- another van actually tried to catch me for comments on Broadway when I ran by but I was still running and didn't stop. When they finally got me they asked me all kinds of fair and balanced questions about the presidential election:

"Do you really think John Kerry has the experience necessary to be president?"
"Are you going to vote for our president or for John Kerry?"
"Do you believe that John Kerry has the same potential for leadership as George Bush?"
"With the recent terror alert, are you concerned for your safety?"
"Would you be more concerned for your safety if John Kerry were elected?"

Gotta love that neutral media coverage!

Chris pointed out this website to me:


It's an aggregate summary of a bunch of state polls on the upcoming election and it's updated daily. It's a pretty neat site -- and with the electoral college structured the way it is, it's a lot more relevant than the national polls cited on news networks are.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Alarm clocks and breakfast

I’ve never been one to run with headphones. Putting aside the safety issue for a moment – I’d rather be able to hear traffic coming than a thumping bassline – I just like listening to all the sounds around me on a run: birds, dogs, people I pass, even cars and lawnmowers. I like having all my senses alive to the same experience.

Most weekdays I get up early and run before work. My route varies. Some days I run along or around Lake Union and the Burke-Gilman, not near anything especially residential. But most days I end up putting in my miles around Capitol Hill, the neighborhood where I live, past extravagant houses and apartment buildings filled with art kids. And at 6:30 in the morning these residences all have one thing in common: the chorus of alarm clocks that greets me as I run past.

On my usual morning runs, I hear alarm clocks (more people prefer beeps to radios, in case you were wondering); smell coffee, toast, and occasionally eggs and breakfast meat; and see people walking their dogs and trucks making early morning deliveries. I don’t taste much other than my own toothpaste, and what I feel is chiefly my feet hitting the ground beneath me, and when the winter comes the main thing I’ll see are bedroom and kitchen lights being switched on. Mostly early morning runs are more about hearing and smelling, alarm clocks and breakfast.

Sunday, August 01, 2004


P.S. Noelle's birthday is coming up. I have a few ideas -- I refuse to succumb to the Disney princessification of the rest of her world.

If you liked art, nature, books, bugs, and Disney princesses, and if you were turning seven, what would you want for your birthday?

Odds and ends

Meredith left this morning. This means two things: I'm sad, and we're roasting a chicken for dinner.

Dad, Valerie, and Noelle called me from China this afternoon. I'm really eager for them to get back so I can hear all about the trip in detail better provided by conversations that aren't costing Dad $3/minute. This should be such an amazing experience for Noelle.

Still making my way through Fingersmith, and I'm about halfway done now. It's been a while since I've read a novel that's so story-driven, which made it all the more surprising when someone I know recently decribed it as not story-driven enough. It's true that I have a penchant for character-based fiction, but this has me thinking about the kinds of stories I'm usually reading when I'm reading fiction. It has strengthened my resolve to dig up some of the old chestnuts on my list -- one of which, yes, is Anna Karenina.