yay for weddings!
Mood: thoughtful
Posted on 2010-01-01 15:42:00
Tags: essay
Words: 108

djedi and I went to a very nice wedding last night. Before we had our ceremony this summer, going to weddings put me in a foul mood - I was happy for the couple but emphasized the point that David and I wouldn't ever have one of our own. (especially the few we went to before we were out as a couple to everyone) So I was quite glad last night that I was able to just focus on being happy for them and happy for us too. One more hangup: gone!

Also, I seem to be on the mend from my cold, which is a nice 2010 present.


willpower is hard work
Mood: calm
Posted on 2009-12-28 15:16:00
Tags: psychology links
Words: 194

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, willpower is a very limited mental resource. Check this out:

In one experiment, led by Baba Shiv at Stanford University, several dozen undergraduates were divided into two groups. One group was given a two-digit number to remember, while the second group was given a seven-digit number. Then they were told to walk down the hall, where they were presented with two different snack options: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad.

Here's where the results get weird. The students with seven digits to remember were nearly twice as likely to choose the cake as students given two digits. The reason, according to Prof. Shiv, is that those extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain—they were a "cognitive load"—making it that much harder to resist a decadent dessert. In other words, willpower is so weak, and the prefrontal cortex is so overtaxed, that all it takes is five extra bits of information before the brain starts to give in to temptation.

Crazy, no? This might explain why I just had like 10 Altoids while concentrating on a problem at work.

1 comment

stuck at work links
Mood: chipper
Posted on 2009-12-21 10:24:00
Tags: links
Words: 189

This is a 70 minute video review of "The Phantom Menace" (some NSFW language). The voice is a little weird, and there are some weird offtopic bits, but overall it's entertaining and pretty spot-on. The bit at the end of Part 1 where he asks people to describe the characters in the original trilogy vs. the prequel is pretty awesome.

'Tis the season for cable company disputes. Here's Time Warner's take on the issue versus Fox's. I find it amusing that they think that setting up websites is going to lead to consumers reading both of them, weighing the facts, and deciding who to be mad at or something. Hint: I get my cable through Time Warner, and if all of a sudden I can't see shows on Fox, I'm going to be mad at Time Warner, regardless of whose "fault" it is. I better be able to watch Lost in February!

The health care bill in the Senate passed a critical test early this morning and it looks like it's going to pass on Christmas Eve. Now to the conference committee!

Heading out to Houston tonight. Happy Christmas!


are the holidays here yet? links
Mood: bored
Posted on 2009-12-17 13:33:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 163

Health care reform - is it going to happen, and is the public option-less bill even worth passing anymore? Nate Silver asks 20 questions for people who answer "no", responds to people who answered them, and explains why he thinks it's still worth passing. Meanwhile, Atul Gawande (the guy who wrote that article about the rising cost of health care in McAllen) says that having lots of pilot projects (like the Senate bill does) is a good way to go and has worked in the past for farming.

For me, the holidays now have an odd association with Mythbusters since we seem to watch them when we're at my folks place a lot. Here's an old interview with the Mythbusters which I found pretty entertaining.

You know those Predator drones the Army is using in Iraq to target insurgents? It turns out the video they transmit is unencrypted(!) and insurgents have been able to intercept it easily.

A computer scientist looks at ICBM security.


my first WebOS app published!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2009-12-16 16:49:00
Tags: palmpre programming
Words: 235

PasswordHash is now officially available on the Palm App Catalog! After some initial hiccups I was able to install it to my Pre and it works just fine. Hopefully my other app will be approved soon...

Speaking of my Pre, I had been having some problems with it lately - it thought that headphones were plugged in to the headphone jack all the time, and so I couldn't listen to music or use the phone except on speakerphone, which got annoying pretty quickly. I tried some internet-suggested remedies that worked for a little while, but this weekend even those stopped working, so I took it in to Sprint to see what they could do.

I dropped my phone off at the nearest Sprint service center, got lunch and returned to have them tell me I'd be shipped a new phone and it would probably arrive the next day. And they let me keep my phone in the meantime (and ship it back when the new phone arrived). Lo and behold, yesterday it arrived, today I took it in to be activated, and it seems to work like a charm. After being careful not to nuke my existing backup (not actually sure if this is a problem anymore, but better safe than sorry!), it transferred over my contacts, apps I had installed, and even bookmarks! So +1 for Palm and Sprint for taking care of the problem.


WebOSJournal reviewed!
Mood: happy
Posted on 2009-12-11 13:26:00
Tags: palmpre programming
Words: 39

So WebOSJournal (my LiveJournal client for the Palm Pre/Pixi) got a nice review. I've submitted it to the Palm App Catalog, and hopefully it'll be up there soonish!

As a bonus link, The Year In Ideas is pretty interesting.


links to keep me awake
Mood: tired
Posted on 2009-12-10 13:32:00
Tags: links
Words: 79

Not two days after my previous post about the Austin commuter rail fiasco, Capital Metro fired their rail contractor. They said it shouldn't affect the schedule - it's scheduled to open early next year. Maybe there's hope?

ABC showed "A Charlie Brown Christmas" this year and cut out parts to show more commercials. The irony, it burns!

Is gay marriage 'inevitable'? - short answer, yes.

Make your own Mondrian painting! Click the squares to change color and drag the lines. Clever!


Mood: tired
Posted on 2009-12-10 10:17:00
Tags: sleep
Words: 123

Some combination of:

- sipping nervously on 2.5 Olive Garden-sized Dr. Peppers
- programming close to bedtime
- sitting awkwardly in my computer chair for a few hours, which (I guess?) hurt my hips so that when I went to lie down on my side it hurt after a few minutes

led to some pretty terrible insomnia. I was tired and tried to get to sleep for (what I later realized was) almost 2 hours before giving up and getting up in the cold. Thank goodness for that Snuggie(TM) that's floating around our living room.

On the plus side, I got some more coding done, but then when I lay down on the couch it _still_ took me a while to get to sleep. Quite unpleasant.


links so I can upgrade to Firefox 3.6 and don't want to lose my open tabs!
Mood: okay
Posted on 2009-12-08 11:42:00
Tags: links
Words: 107

The Austin City Council might push for a November 2010 referendum on expanding passenger rail. This is fairly hilarious to me, since the "existing" passenger rail is over a year and a half late, and they still haven't set a start date on it. I'm a big supporter of passenger rail, but even I'm not sure I'd vote for more after the boondoggle it's become.

8 Great Gifts for Your Data Geek - hmm, I own one of these and at least one is on my Christmas list :-)

Good summary of the hacked climate change emails - yes, some bad things were done, but the evidence is still overwhelming.


thanksgiving pictures
Mood: bouncy
Posted on 2009-12-07 18:02:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 4

can be found here:


Mood: melancholy
Posted on 2009-12-04 11:06:00
Tags: rant
Words: 21

Maaaaybe a little bit jealous of all the people who are on vacation/working from home today. And it's not even snowing!


links for what should be friday
Mood: hyper
Posted on 2009-12-03 15:10:00
Tags: palmpre programming links
Words: 137

Seriously...long week anyone?

I put up WebOSJournal on the PreCentral homebrew gallery. Still plenty of work to be done, of course...

What every programmer should know about memory - really long article (and it's only Part 1!) but I learned a lot. (and remembered a lot from college classes :-) )

Apropos of net neutrality, How Robber Barons hijacked the "Victorian Internet" (i.e. the telegraph system). The short version is that there was no government regulation and Western Union/AP fixed an election and conspired to keep non-AP newspapers out of business. Less government regulation doesn't always equal more open markets!

Drug-Makers Paying Off Competitors To Keep Cheap Generics Off Market - pretty much what the headline says. It sucks, but apparently it's legal.

No one wants America to be the sole global superpower, but no one wants to share the load.


NY same-sex marriage bill defeated, life goes on
Mood: optimistic
Posted on 2009-12-02 14:38:00
Tags: essay gay politics
Words: 244

The New York same-sex marriage bill, which passed the state assembly 88-51, was defeated in the state senate 38-24, which isn't even close. (Anyone who knows anything about NY politics: why is the state senate so against it while the state assembly is so for it? It seems weird to me.)

Between this and the Maine defeat, as @fivethirtyeight tweeted: "But boy, its been a rough couple of months for progressives." Indeed.

Perhaps it's time to change our strategy - it seems like the votes just aren't there in most places for same-sex marriage. Looking at the same-sex marriage map (which I apologize for linking every time I write about this stuff, but it's a good way to see at a glance where we are, and can't a guy self-promote a bit?) same-sex marriage is legal in 4 states (and will be in 5 when New Hampshire's law takes effect in January) and civil unions are available in 5 more, plus DC. I think we should focus on picking off more states where there are no civil unions and trying to push civil unions there - they have fairly broad support, and from a practical perspective there's not much difference, especially since no same-sex marriages are being recognized at the federal level anyway. Maybe Maryland, or Illinois, or Rhode Island, or (heck) New York?

Getting actual rights for gay couples in other states is a lot more important to me than getting their unions called "marriage".


pre-thanksgiving links
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2009-11-25 14:20:00
Tags: links
Words: 58

The Muppets cover Bohemian Rhapsody - excellent!

After some depressing articles about football and head injuries, the co-chairmen of the NFL's committee on brain injuries resigned. They were mostly discrediting studies that showed brain injuries happened a lot, so the fact that they're no longer there means that maybe the NFL is taking the problem more seriously. Here's hoping!

1 comment

health care optimism?
Mood: hopeful
Posted on 2009-11-24 17:17:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 84

Based on the fact that the Senate health care bill barely got to the floor, and the fact that it sounds like 4 Senators (Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, Nelson), were going to vote against it if it contained a public option, I was pessimistic!

But now after reading this article, I'm more optimistic that even if the bill that passes doesn't have a public option, it could still make a difference in health care costs. Also, that article is required reading in the White House!


rethinking the plan
Mood: tired
Posted on 2009-11-24 10:30:00
Tags: palmpre projects programming
Words: 121

I signed up for the Houston Turkey Trot 5K with my family. Unfortunately, it starts at 8 AM (which is very early for me these days) and I'm not in great shape and it's going to be cold, which doesn't do so great on my lungs. Hopefully I survive!

Been working on WebOSJournal (the LiveJournal client for the Palm Pre/Pixi) - it's coming along decently but I'm running into some frustration trying to allow replying to posts/comments. The authorization scheme is tricky and of course you don't get useful feedback. I actually downloaded the LiveJournal source code to try to figure out what I'm doing wrong, but it's hard to find my way around...

Obama kicks off massive science education effort - yay!


no-longer-quite-as-rainy link friday
Mood: chipper
Posted on 2009-11-20 14:59:00
Tags: 23andme gay politics links
Words: 233

I finally took the plunge and ordered a 23andMe kit. I got the kit in the mail last night and spit into the tube (they wanted a lot of spit so it took 5 minutes to do), sealed it up and sent it off this morning. Now the waiting begins...

- The District of Columbia is proposing a same-sex marriage law. (yay!) The Catholic church, upon hearing this, warned that they would stop providing social services for DC if the law passed, despite the fact that they law specifically exempts religious organizations from having to recognize the marriages. They would, however, have to obey city laws preventing discrimination against gays.

- In other church news, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church leaders have signed the "Manhattan Declaration", saying they will not cooperate with laws about abortion or same-sex unions that they don't agree with. Again, every same-sex marriage law that I'm aware of carves out a pretty wide exemption for religious groups, so I'm a bit put out by this. HRC responds along the same lines.

- In other other church news, the Catholic Church has found that gay priests were not a factor in the sex abuse scandal. Who woulda thunk it?

- Gay Marriage & Marijuana: You can't stop either. Why that's good. I agree, although his timetable for 10 years having all states recognize same-sex unions seems a bit optimistic given the current state of affairs.


Test post
Posted on 2009-11-17 22:18:00
Tags: palmpre programming
Words: 5

First post from Palm Pre?


origami dreams
Mood: busy
Posted on 2009-11-13 12:54:00
Tags: origami dreams
Words: 50

After spending so long with the origami units last night, I saw the folds when I closed my eyes, and had a dream that some origami bees were flying around trying to destroy my origami construction. It was weird :-)

Also, they found a "significant" amount of water on the moon!


origami success!...mostly
Mood: accomplished
Posted on 2009-11-13 11:08:00
Tags: origami gay politics links
Words: 139

After a few hours of assembling, here's what I ended up with:

(more pictures behind the link) It's pretty unwieldly...hopefully it will survive on my desk for a little while.


- I've seen this around, but this support for same-sex marriage by age and state is pretty striking. Hopefully the 18-29 crowd will keep their opinion as they age :-)

- A US interstate map drawn like the London tube map. Really, I'm a sucker for anything that looks like a London tube map :-)

- Anyone else use Steepster? It's a neat way to keep track of teas and stuff. I might start recording ones I like...

- Because of some of the issues with Obama/the DNC I mentioned, a DNC donor boycott is being launched by the people at AmericaBlog. I signed up, although I don't know if I'll stick with it.

1 comment

origami adventures!
Mood: cheerful
Music: George Michael - "Hand to Mouth"
Posted on 2009-11-12 10:11:00
Tags: origami
Words: 302

I got a few new origami books and tried to make a few things, all of which ended in failure one way or another. (the most frustrating was trying to make a cute little tetrahedron, for which all the pieces turned out great, but apparently you need to be some sort of origami deity to assemble the 6 measly pieces) That's been disheartening, so I decided to go back to my old standby - using Sonobe units to make things. I've done 12 and 30 unit constructions before, so I wanted to try a 60 unit one.

Tuesday I made 40 units, and yesterday while I was home sick I finished up the latest 20 in front of "The Dark Knight". (still a good movie!) Last night was assembly time. It went surprisingly well at first - it's mostly hexagons and triangles which made it much more stable while putting it together than I had feared. I kept putting it together with the same pattern until I noticed that I was almost out of units, and the structure was nowhere near closed up. Usually this means that edges need to be joined together somehow, but I just couldn't figure it out. Eventually I did a little online research, and lo and behold the way you make the 60 unit structure is fairly different from the 12 and 30. What I was halfway putting together was the 90 unit structure.

So after a bit of deliberation I decided to take the whole thing apart and go for the 90. (I would have left it together while I folded the extra units, but then the extra colors would have been all on one side) I'll take pictures when/if I finish, since judging by the size of the structure I had it's going to be quite big!


home energy usage vs. temperature
Mood: geeky
Posted on 2009-11-09 12:48:00
Tags: math projects
Words: 62

I couldn't sleep last night so I whipped up this analysis of our home energy usage vs. temperature. It turns out that (spoiler!) we use more energy when it's hot outside. But I got to run my first linear regression!

People who know about statistics: feel free to criticize/suggest improvements. (I'm not even sure I was looking at the right R-squared value...)


a lotta links
Mood: chipper
Posted on 2009-11-06 12:11:00
Tags: gay politics links
Words: 146

Washington voters passed Referendum 71 which gives same-sex couples the right to domestic partnerships. So at least that's good news!

A bird with a baguette damaged the Large Hadron Collider - apparently it's not going to delay it going operational later this month, but it does bring to mind the whole fate bringing down the LHC theory. Alternatively, as someone near me at work commented, it sure makes the fears of it destroying the planet seem overblown if a bird with a baguette can damage it :-)

Austin extends COBRA benefits to partners of city employees - apparently Austin is the first city in the US to do so.

Since it's been so rainy, the drought in Texas has gotten much, much better.

Big Ben is on Twitter!

A crazy idea to build a dome over Houston (a la The Simpsons Movie) to protect it from heat and hurricanes.


feeling a little better
Mood: okay
Posted on 2009-11-04 14:06:00
Tags: gay politics
Words: 34

In the meantime, I updated the same-sex marriage map with the results from WA and ME, and added in percentages on votes the public had on same-sex marriage. (I think Mississippi's was the worst)


up yours, Maine
Mood: angry
Posted on 2009-11-04 09:35:00
Tags: rant gay politics
Words: 383

Same-sex marriage lost in Maine 47-53%. Angry profanity-laden rant behind the cut:

That makes the 31st state same-sex marriage has lost a vote in - still looking for our first victory. Here's who I'm mad at, in rough order:

DNC/Obama: The No on 1 campaign asked for DNC funds and didn't get any. Obama didn't lift a finger to help - he campaigned for (now-)former Governor Corzine in New Jersey, and even sent out a special email to people on his email list to vote for him. Maine got a generic "go out and vote" email with no indication of what they should vote on. He couldn't even be bothered to tell people to vote No on 1! Andrew Sullivan makes this point as well, more on the DNC not helping No on 1 in the slightest, more on Obama not helping.

Honestly, if they're not going to support the things I care about, that puts things in a whole new light. I don't support health-care reform because it would help me (because I doubt much would change for me), and if Obama's not going to lift a finger to support my causes, why should I support his? I will probably lay off giving money to the DNC for a while (or at least until I calm down) and give to candidates that support my values.

National Organization for Marriage/the Catholic Church: These were by far the largest contributors to Yes on 1. The Catholic Church gave more than half a million dollars while, at the very same time, closing parishes for lack of funds. NOM gave at least $1.1 million.

Maine voters: Seriously, guys? What the hell?

Governor Baldacci: Not mad at all - he had a change of heart and signed the gay marriage bill, and encouraged his supporters to vote No on 1.

The No on 1 Campaign: Obviously results are what matter, but they seemed to run a good campaign - this was no botched California Proposition 8-type scenario.

Hmm, not as profanity-laden as I had thought. Still, I'm mad.

On the good news front, Washington's domestic partnerships vote is looking good (they vote by mail so it takes a few days to get final numbers), and Annise Parker (an open lesbian) is in a runoff for Houston mayor. But Maine really stings.


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