Sunday, May 31, 2015

News from Tanzania: Grant Progress

When I was in Tanzania, I spent some time working with the professors at Sokoine University to write a grant to renovate their network and computer lab.  It was successful, and we got $4 million from USAID.  The other day, the department head contacted me to let me know they had finally started on the project. That only took 3 years.  Tanzanian time.  But I'm still happy Dr. Busagala reached out to me to let me know!  Dr. Busagala is AWESOME.  He has a PhD from Japan in robotic something or other, is good with Fedora, an OS I use grudgingly, has a plan and gets things done.  I really enjoyed going over to Sokoine to work with him and and his colleagues.  

Friday, May 29, 2015

Introducing the Adventures of Conan, the Engineer

At work, I have root access to all machines.  I abuse this by annoying one of my colleagues.  There is a feature in linux, whereby one can leave messages for all users on login by editing the message of the day file (motd). I have begun narrating the Epic Adventure of Conan the Engineer entirely through login messages.  Here's what I have so far, and yes, the line spacing looks weird in html because I was writing it to fit my terminal.  

Lo!  Ere the rosy-fingered dawn had wiped the sparkling dew
 from the keyboards, Conan the Engineer was striding
through the boundless plains toward the wine-dark sea in
quest of the God of the Machine, from whom he was resolved
to wrest the secrets of the failure of the dbsync scripts.

It came to pass, as Conan the Engineer strode across the boundless paging files that he came upon a flock of long-running queries grazing upon the system resources.  Ever the opportunist, Conan
paused in his quest to find the God of the Machine in order
to smite the queries. Howsoever, as he brought his poleaxe down
upon the neck of a query, it cried out and cursed him with a great

"May owls nest in your inner joins!
May your perl libraries never compile!
May your hardware never be upgraded!
May your code be lost in merge conflicts!
May all you love wither and die in the bowels of the Jira borg!"

And lo, Conan was sore afraid.

Shaking off his unmanly tremors at the great curse of the long-running
query, he strode on through the boundless paging files for days unending.
At long last, however, even Conan the Engineer grew weary and sank to his
knees upon the mossy sward.  But hark what aromatic smell greeted him!
And zounds, what hot black liquid was this bubbling up to stain the exposed
thews of his mighty calves!  He dipped his massive and calloused axe hand
into the dark trickle and brought it to his lips, for a wise man had once
said unto him "if you can't tell what it is, try licking it."

Lo!  What miraculous elixir was this that brought life to his weary
limbs! The very scent aroused his weary brain with a will to smite! Conan
leaped again to his feet, determined now to find the source of this
wonderful and life giving stream.  Lithe and agile as a gazelle he bounded
forward following after the balmy fragrance even as a bee drawn to a lily,
singleminded and prepared to wreak stinging vengeance upon any in its

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Easter Egg!

There is a reference to Samuel R. Delaney's short story "Time Considered as a Helix of Semiprecious Stones" in the anime series Dantalion no Shoka.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An Adorable Cake in an Adorable Mug

I have this problem where I've moved out on my own and I have little to no kitchenware of my own.  Granted, my darling sister is moving in with her darling kitchenware in about two weeks, but in the meantime, I want to bake.  I want to bake things with whipped cream, but I have no mixer, and I'm not whipping cream by hand.  I want to bake things that involve many steps of preparation, but I have exactly one sauce pan and 3 bowls. So I'm making microwave mug cakes.  This is a recipe I found here and while it is better than most microwave mug cake recipes I've seen in that it prescribes melted butter rather than vegetable oil, cocoa powder is still no substitute for chocolate melted in cream. Nonetheless, while not particularly attractive as a creation, it is in a sheepie mug.  And there's peanut butter.  So there's that.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Caturday Post: In which Scaramouche is a Master of Carpentry

I have a new desk.  Naturally, I had to have help putting it together.  Scaramouche presat upon all the pieces.


He got distracted by his need to jump on his little brother, who was not being particularly helpful with the desk assembly. 

All put together, thanks to Scaramouche!  His little brother is still not being particularly helpful.
 The desk is good for sitting upon, and sat upon it will be.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thank You For Treating Me as a Capable, Rational Adult, Even Though I Present as a Short Cis-Female Who Does Not Drive a Big Truck

I shouldn't have to thank people for treating me like an autonomous, rational human being.  This should be the baseline, not the apex.

But I did it anyway.  Specifically, I thanked two of my (male) colleagues for taking me seriously during my time at the job I just left.  Because one of the diverse ways this town frustrates me to screaming tears is the way people just. won't. believe. me when I say something.  (Most recently, on Wednesday, the lady that I had to tell several times that yes, I really can fit the large boxes I was trying to buy into my small car, I've done it before, yes, really, so please, just sell me the boxes already!)

Ozymandias has some good points on this: On Praiseworthiness.  I think I did the right thing to thank them.  But I'm also angry that I felt it was needed.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Stuff Doesn't Work: Dancing for a Cause Edition

There are some things that just set my teeth on edge, and one of them is charity work done both poorly and in a self-aggrandizing way.  This is why I am personally embarrassed and upset that I participated in a charitable event which was exactly both of those things. Granted I didn't know much about it, but I really should do research.

I participated in an international belly dance flash mob to benefit various women's shelters.  The way it works is supposed to be that someone volunteers to be a group leader for each city and then coordinates donations to one particular shelter via people agreeing to dance.  It's much like those walk/run for the cure things but done by dancers. Everyone learns the same choreography for every participating city, so also there's a "yay community" aspect.  So far, so good.

I didn't know a lot before the actual event, other than the choreography, which I rehearsed just with a friend rather than with the main group.  Not out of any dislike for the main group, but since the Atlanta team leader was actually in the suburbs, and held official rehearsals on Friday evenings at 6pm, and the traffic of Atlanta is such that one does not simply go into or out of the city at 6pm on a Friday, I was not a very active participant.  Nonetheless, I was full of bright eyed optimism when I showed up to dance for a Cause, only to find out that dancing for a Cause meant dancing on concrete in the sun in largely empty parking lots while group members took turns taking photos and videos, which were uploaded promptly to facebook and youtube.  There was one location in which we danced in a car wash parking lot facing a busy road, so I suppose passing motorists might have seen something of the Cause, or would have, had we had any signs to explain what we were doing, which we didn't.

Aargh!  If this were just a "let's celebrate World Belly Dance Day by getting together with friends for a flash dance mob" not having any advertising would be ok.  I'd definitely have been fine with just a bellydance community thing, well, except for the dancing for no one on hot concrete part, that would still have been bad, but that's a separate issue.  However, if we're doing something public for a cause, it should be about the cause.  Not about us.  Without any sort of signage, it's just people dancing.  Also, frankly, I am uncomfortable with dancing at a car wash facing traffic.  I struggle enough with both being a belly dancer and not encouraging a cultural attitude in which dancing is synonymous with sexual objectification of women for profit. 

When we were finished dancing and having lunch, I asked the group leader about next year maybe having signs or something, and she said she'd asked the shelter we were doing this for and they were busy relocating and couldn't provide us with any advertising material.  She went on to add that because they were so busy relocating they couldn't even accept donations right now and she'd be holding onto the money raised until August, when they said they could maybe take something.  Disregarding how excessively fishy that sounds,  the moral is that we did something for a cause without anything to indicate what we were doing and the cause wasn't even interested in us.  But by god there are pictures of us doing things for a cause on facebook, so obviously we're great people.

Maybe I should just give up and start going on about how the misfortunes of others causes me great spiritual growth or something.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thought for the Day

When we need to see things inside our bodies, we can just look.  With technological things rather than cutting stuff open.  Assuming we have access to and the ability to pay for the technological things, of course, but still.  We are living in the future.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Caturday Post: Settling in

Darlings, I have shamefully neglected you due to the vicissitudes of life, however, my dear kittens have found things in their new home that must be sat upon, and proceeded to sit upon them.  Kittens are proactive like that.