Sunday, April 27, 2008


I don't like being an "every detail about my life" blogger (although I enjoy reading some). I usually only like posting when something I consider "eventful" or "interesting" happens, like canyoneering trips or thesis advancements.

Every now and then, however, it's nice to post an overview of what's been going on, more for my own information than anyone else's. It's turned out to be handy to go back to my blog to see when something happened, but for that to be useful, I have to have posted about it.

Last week Child and I visited an old friend of mine, and his wife and new baby. My friend informed me his wife would be cooking chili, so I asked if his wife wouldn't mind setting aside a bowl for Child before she put meat in, assuming it would contain meat. (Child is a vegetarian.) He doubted she would add meat, but assured me a bowl would be set aside if she did.

We get down there, and his wife assures us that there's no meat in the chili..."except for a few tiny bits that were the spaghetti sauce" which she added. That's like telling a Mormon "there's only a little alcohol in the drinks," or telling a Jew that "there's only a little pork in the stew." Believe me, vegetarians are just as serious as any religion.

I think it's just simple misunderstanding of what a vegetarian really is. Reference my earlier post about "vegetarian cookies," and even after my wife tried to explain the difference between a vegan and vegetarian, the clerk refused to believe her. Come on, she IS a vegetarian! She should know what one is!

Anyway, at my friend's house, Child quietly eats chips and cheese, the friends pretend not to notice that she isn't eating the chili (they're smart, they probably immediately realized that even a little meat was apparently un-kosher), and I take seconds to make up for Child.

On a different note, the thesis is going good. I'll be defending in May (did I already post that?), and the Boss wants me to submit a shortened version of the thesis as a journal paper. I'm also working on my resume, and the Boss said that as soon as my second committee member approves the thesis, I can start freelance work again. Yay!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Things are unraveling faster now!

The thesis is almost done. I've got the bulk of the writing done, and have submitted draft -1 or so to the Boss. The thesis defense will probably be in less than a month.

Along with that, I've been getting ready to go back into Job Mode. I've been sending out emails, telling contacts I'll be taking programming jobs, and have been looking into apply for jobs at Google, Amazon, and other smaller companies. I still need to decide exactly where I want to love; Child wants Texas, but I'm not sure I'd like the humidity, heat, and bugs.

A week ago I put together a website for the South Utah Valley Animal Shelter: The previous programmer hadn't done anything with it for two years, and it was only half-completed. Not to mention that the information that WAS there was outdated. I set up the website with Joomla, so the people at the shelter could update the website themselves.

After doing so, and showing them how to do it, I remembered why I didn't like doing that though. Joomla allows the user to update their own website, but it still takes a slight amount of technical savvy. That means it gets passed off to the "young 'un" on the staff, which means the pages end up looking like an email or text message. I might exaggerate slightly, but the pages are still full of misspellings, weird formatting, and other issues that make me wince.

It also makes it difficult to create a portfolio of sites to show other potential clients. The SUVAS site should be okay since I only showed them how to modify the text, not the "look 'n' feel" of the website, but I've done other sites where the owner would take over the website when I was done and completely trash it. Giant purple font, animated gifs dotting the page, messed-up tables, etc.

While I was at the shelter showing the staff how to edit the pages of their site, a man came in to reclaim his dog. It had been brought in when he had been taken to jail the night before, and he wasn't happy about having to pay money to get it out. Not that he wasn't used to it, "This dog's been locked up here before...and up in Salt Lake too...and pretty much anywhere I got caught." The guy was obviously a regular in jail, with no sign of ever changing.

Speaking of which, five of the "garden inmates" (inmates who work in the jail-run acre-wide garden behind the shelter) and their supervisor came in. They wanted some dogs to walk up and down the rows, hoping the scent woulds care off critters who were eating their seeds. We picked out six dogs for them, and I was pleasantly surprised when they actually came back with six dogs as well. With that many dogs in close proximity to each other, all excited about being outside for the first time in weeks, I sort of expected some attrition. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008


At the beginning of the semester, I volunteered to tutor at school. I was paired with a freshman taking the introductory programming clas. He contacted me once and I helped him out, then I didn't hear from him for the rest of the semester.

On Friday, he contacted me again. "I need some help!" he said, and we arranged a time on Saturday to meet.

I quickly realized that he didn't want tutoring, he wanted someone to do his projects for him. During the course of the semester, they had to do about 10 programming projects. The grade was important, but if nothing else they had to complete them to pass the class. This kid had skipped the three last projects, and had to complete them before Tuesday (tomorrow) to pass the class.

I helped him for a couple hours, but it was apparent he wanted me to look over his shoulder and tell him exactly what to do. I finally took my leave, and when he IM'd me again this morning, I politely pointed out that I was supposed to tutor him, not do his projects for them.

This morning:

Him: "Are you there?"

Me: "Yes. How're the projects coming?"

Him: "OK. I just need to do some of those labs I showed you."

There are three labs. Each lab takes a week to complete. They are due tomorrow.

Me: "I have an hour or two free later this afternoon, but I can't just help you code the projects. If you are stuck on a particular concept or question, I can help you with that."

Him: "Well, the problem really is that I have no idea as to where to begin with these labs. They're pretty complicated, and they're due tomorrow."

Then don't you think that ONE DAY before the semester ends is the wrong time to BEGIN them?

I feel bad for him, but I'm not going to sit down and code them for him. If I worked the next 24 hours, I could probably squeak them out myself. Helping him do them? Not a chance, even if I agreed to do it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This, That and The Other

Yesterday was a busy day. Child didn't have to go to work until noon, so I visited the animal shelter that morning. It turned out to be a very busy day, and we were able to do several adoptions. That's always the best part of working at an animal shelter. We also had a Boy Scout and his mother and sister visit for a merit badge, so I got to show them around for that.

At the moment we have three rabbits. They're hard to adopt out, and usually end up being adopted by a...well, raptor rescue. To try to adopt them out faster, I made up a card for them that said, "Long-eared Pomeranians. Guaranteed not to bark!" It seems like 3/4 of everyone who comes in wants a small dog like a Pomeranian or Shih Tzu, and I figure that maybe we'll get some older couple who doesn't see too well. "Goodness, dear, this Pomeranian is the quietest, most well-behaved dog I've ever seen!"

In other news, Pat also told me that someone had come into the shelter and mentioned that they had seen their dog on my website. Another success!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Junk Mail

A little while ago Child became frustrated with all the junk mail we were receiving, so she searched online about how to get rid of it. She filled out some forms to get off the credit card companies' lists, mailed one or two things to various companies to get off their lists, but that didn't handle some of the more infrequent fliers from smaller companies.

This afternoon, we started calling a few of them to see about getting off their lists. We got some interesting responses.

A car dealership told us they used a 3rd-party and gave us their number, but the supervisor I talked to, in an unusual fit of candor for a car salesman, told us that he hated mailed advertisements too and his wife had once spent a year trying to get rid of them. It didn't work--he explained that there were 400 different ways for your address to get on mailing lists, and that companies like RC Willey will sell your address to other companies.

He hastened to add that "We here at Larry Miller Auto have NEVER sold our customer lists to other companies!" ...but apparently they have no qualms about BUYING lists from other companies, since we get their advertisements.

One guy from an ad company asked me, a little patronizingly, if I was "a tree lover or something." Because there's no other reason I might not like having my mailbox stuffed full of advertisements every day. (Ironically, I had worn a tee-shirt the previous day that said, "Save a tree, ask me!")

The worst offender, The Daily Herald, was surprisingly easy. It took talking to three people, but the third person just said, "Yeah, sure, we'll take you off the list." We'll see if they do it...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Choice quotes from a birthday dinner for Child at my parent's house last night:

Brother: "How do you find where the holes are in your ears when you put in earrings?"
Sister: "How do you find where the holes are in your nose when you pick it?"

Brother: "Do you eat fish?"
Child: "Yes, I'm a pisco-lacto-ovo vegetarian."
Brother: "I'm never touching you again."
(Dad: "Why are you touching her to begin with?")

Brother: "Of course it's fake, it's science-fiction! If it wasn't fake, it'd be fiction."

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Few, The Proud, The Trusted

A couple of days ago, I realized that I really had a very short list of people that I implicitly trusted.

Oh, I have lots of friends and many more acquaintances, but (excluding my family) I can probably count on one hand--maybe it would take both--the number of friends that I would trust without question in any situation.

Can anyone say the same of me?