Archive for March 2013
Ordered an Americano (with room) from Coffee Emporium at Queen City Square. It was written up in a very patriotic fashion.
Last year, I posted about Harry Methvin, one of my high school English teachers, and his assignment to recite Marc Antony’s eulogy of Julius Ceaser. On March 14, he was inducted into my high school’s hall of fame. Congratulations!
In a restaurant bathroom, I saw this sign, which raised a lot of questions. Is there only one employee at this establishment, or only one who is expected to “wash hands?” If the latter, does he know who he is? Also, how is “washing hands” different from washing hands (see here for what I mean)?
Came across a cool radio program on WNKU. It’s Little Steven’s Underground Garage, hosted by Steven Van Zandt. It’s a need tour of the history of Rock’n’Roll, and associated pop culture. For two hours, he plays some pretty awesome music. I found the podcast version in iTunes, though I haven’t found it elsewhere.
I’d forgotten how nice it is to be outside without a jacket.
Just when it looked like we’d go the whole month of March without getting out to the zoo, we had some of the best weather we’ve had in a while. The zoo also had some things going on for Easter. We caught the tail end of it, when cougars Joseph and Tecumseh were given melons to roll around.
They rolled them around like toys our coalition plays with.
Such handsome cats.
We wanted to see if the ocelittle born New Year’s Eve was out. We couldn’t find her, but did see an ocelot.
I was playing with my camera, trying to use my manual focus in some of the darker enclosures, where it seems to struggle. One result was a decent shot of the fishing cat. They had put some fish in her enclosure to chase after.
I also got a picture of the black-footed cat at the far end of the enclosure.
The other one stood up top and judged me.
U haz no skillz.
Miss Caracal, on the other hand, was posing, and looking gorgeous.
The Snow Leopard Trust was pointing out that snow leopard mating season has been going on. I have no official word, though I did want to check on Renji. She and Nubo, however, were having a cat-nap.
I thought it was birds of a feather that flocked together.
Remember how small he was when we got it?
My wannabe amur tiger loves his toys.
Going to get a bit heavy for a moment. Feel free to skip this post–I’m sure there will be more cats, fountain pens, biking, or something in a moment…
Anyone who follows me on twitter knows I haven’t been having the best of weeks at work.
Truthfully, anyone who has followed me on twitter for a long time knows that I’m often frustrated, enraged, depressed, or otherwise negative about work. There are some things that are generically frustrating (Microsoft Outlook, off-hour pages), that complaining is about things I suspect are universal, and really aren’t what has me chronically unhappy.
There are some things that are unique to the organization I am part of, however, that really get me down. These are the things that keep me up at night, stress-eat, and otherwise feel hopeless. It’s easy to say “I work to live, not live to work,” but, at the same time, the job is what enables life. I also realize that, through a very challenging economy over the last five years or so, I’ve been employed, and making a good living. I’m grateful that I am in such a position, and know that whatever complaints I may have are, in the great scheme of things, trivial.
Still, it’s easy to fall into periods when what’s happening at the office becomes all-consuming, and I fall into the trap of letting my job define who I am. For some people, this is self-actualizing. They can center their lives around their work, and see that as fulfilling, and making a difference in the world.
While there are certainly occupations where that is innately true, for the vast majority of jobs, that’s not going to be the case. You won’t be able to get the rewards–material or self-worth–equivalent to what you put into it. I think the best many of us can hope for is to have a job we find relatively pleasant most of the time, and look to other ways to make our mark on the world.
Azizah, my friend at Gourmet Pens, posted a comment on my last baking post. It came at just the right time, in that it reminded me that regardless of who I have to be from the time I step on the bus in the morning to the time I climb my hill* in the evening, it’s not who I am. Oddly enough, this blog seems to reflect who I am:
- A husband and father (even if posts about them are rare)
- A baker, whose daughter has rarely had store-bought bread at home
- An advocate for wildlife, especially cats
- A rescuer of house cats
- A caretaker of writing instruments, including the knowledge and skills of how to use them
- A cyclist
- A geek–someone who loves things so much, all the details are interesting, and wants to share this enthusiasm.
Looking at these posts, I see the person I am, or at least aspire to be, and the difference I can make in the world, however minute. Since my job is what enables me to take care of my family, take pictures of cats, or any of the other things I love to do in ife, then, really, it’s a bargain.
*the literal hill I live on; not a metaphorical one
Meet Pen Monkey.
I’m not really a fan of monkeys. I came across him in my father’s office, and claimed him. Based on the marking under his foot, he came from Levenger. Like my rocking blotter, they carry don’t it anymore. However, he’s been handy as a memento of my dad, get pens out of the way, or for photographs. You’ve seen him several times. He can hold fountain pens, of course…
1944 Parker Vacumatic
Waterman Expert, also claimed from my father’s desk.
Today, while on an outage call, I discovered he can also hold SmartPhones.
Handy little primate!
Here’s the inspiration for the title.
We were supposed to go to my in-laws for Passover last weekend, but the weather made a trip to Indianapolis unwise. I was on point to make goodies, though, and I decided to proceed. Well, I staffed it out.
My daughter is making a French silk pie with a nut crust, which is also going to be my wife’s birthday “cake.” She did about 85% of the work, relying on my for a few things here and there. she’s becoming quite the baking.
I decided to make some macaroons. Word of advice: if you get recipes off the Internet, print or save a copy, so you’ll still have it. I went to the post which has the recipe, but, at the time, their bandwidth limit was exceeded, so I could get there. Fortunately, it was posted elsewhere, and I remembered the recipe well enough that I could recognize it. It’s not the first time something has happened to an online recipe. In another case, the site simply went away. I had a print-up of the recipe, messed up by flour and water, that allowed me to recreate the dish. Still, I’m going to check my recipe binder to make sure all my favorites are accounted for.
I think this was the prettiest batch I’ve ever made.
Earlier this month, Evernote, a very handy web application, was hacked, forcing them to have all their users reset their passwords. This is far from the first time I’ve found myself in this situation. Currently, I have about eighty sites that have passwords. Managing them can be challenging. Some sites, like GMail, are holding fairly critical data for me, so reducing the risk is important.
Fortunately, two-factor authentication is becoming more common. The notion is that, to access an account, you’d need two things: something you know, and something you have. You use this at an ATM machine: you swipe your card (something you have), then type in your PIN (something you know).
For enterprise environments, RSA makes a key fob that generates numbers based on an algorithm. The server knows how the algorithm is seeded for each key, so it “knows” what number is displayed at a given moment. To get into a system that uses it, you need to type the number on the fob (something you have), along with a PIN that only you know (something you know). However, getting consumers using free cloud services to buy RSA fobs seems unlikely.
Fortunately, most of us have something we have that can serve a similar function: a cell phone. More and more web services are offering two-factor authentication by sending a text message. Type in a number from the text message along with a password achieves a similar level of security. This could be used for access to your site from unauthorized computers (such as a shared computer at the library), validate password resets, or other critical security activities. The advantage is that, even if your password is stolen, the thief would not be able to use it to gain access to your data, as they would also need your phone to validate the request.
Many common sites have started to offer some level of two-factor authentication:
Links go to instructions for setting it up.
I would not be surprised if other sites start to roll it out as well. I would encourage you to start to enable it on sites you use that offer it. It may save your data!
For my personal Internet presence, I make an effort to minimize the direct ties back to me personally. Where I have to use my real name, I lock down the privacy controls, and minimize references to my employer (save, of course, for LinkedIn). However, for publishing my own things, I use a pseudonym, “MrGuilt,” for public forums wherever I can. It’s not airtight–someone spending a few minutes drilling down can likely link the two. However, it does make it take just that much work, keeping someone from typing in a term in Google and making the link.
Not that I suspect many people care that I’m making posts about cats, fountain pens, and baking. However, once in a while, there is something bigger rattling around in my brain. I may write it in my journal, and feel I need to share it with the world, but fear that it might make me look bad to my employer (or to others in the world). Again, I’m OK with my usual readers seeing it, I just don’t want it to be at the top of a Goggle search.
What I really want is a brown paper bag–one where anyone can access it if they choose to, but it would require a trivial bit of extra effort. ROT13 is how it used to be done, back in the days of USENET.* Basically, it is a simple substitution cypher. I know that I can also password protect a post–an interesting solution (many have either done two posts, with one of them being “here’s the password for the other post,” or just have an established standard (“type the date it came up”)). Both options achieve the desired goal.
However, I was wondering, how do others handle this? Do they use one of the methods I describe above? Have a cleaner solution? Simply accept that editorial discretion may preclude some posts?
*Historically, ROT13 was often used for things we now call “NSFW.” Nothing I would post would be obscene, or really NSFW, more that it might cause me embarrassment.
As you can imagine, the Saint Patrick’s Day season is a busy one for an Irish dancer. Last week, my wife danced at the Celtic Lands’ Festival. This weekend was even busier. She had six shows scheduled, though one was canceled due to weather. She did have a performance at the Irish Heritage Center this afternoon, however.
Their auditorium on Saint Patrick’s Day is a difficult place to shoot. With the green shirts and tablecloths, it seriously skews the white balance. Note this unprocessed image from my iPhone.
Their routine set to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” is new this year. To give my wife a chance to see it, I recorded it as video (still getting the hang of using my DSLR in that mode).
All in all, it was a great performance.