days go by and still I think of you
Mood: calm
Music: Dave Matthews Band - "Dive In"
Posted on 2009-05-29 10:13:00
Tags: music worldofwarcraft links
Words: 156

Had a nice relaxing week, apart from being sick Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh, and we downed a few new bosses in Ulduar-10 last night (Kologarn and Auriaya), although no loots for me.

Despite being sick most of the week I found some good links:

- Dave Matthews Band has a new album coming out next week, and you can stream the full thing at Pandora. So far it's pretty good!

- This article about health care in the New Yorker was both fascinating and a little depressing. It looks at why McAllen is the most expensive city for health care in the US, and basically the answer is because the culture for doctors there is to try to maximize revenue.

- How an Intern Stole NASA's Moon Rocks

- A rebuttal to those who claim that the new Star Trek movie threw away a bunch of continuity...short version, Star Trek has been throwing away continuity for quite a while now.


in the merry month of may
Mood: distracted
Posted on 2009-05-22 14:12:00
Tags: gay projects links
Words: 155

My same-sex marriage map got some link love from Metafilter (thanks kernelm!) and somethingawful, oddly enough. And twitter, come to think of it. This added up to 225 hits over the past 3 days, which is a lot for me.

I'm not sure why it makes me so excited to see people linking to my stuff - there are no ads on the page, and presumably most people click on it, take a look, think "Neat!" (or "What a piece of crap!") and move on with their day. I guess it's a measure of fame or prominence, however slight.

The government just released which is a collection of parseable data from various government agencies. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of too interesting stuff there yet, but there is a a contest to write a cool app. (the first entrant is FBI Fugitive Concentration!)

The Dallas Cowboy's new stadium has the world's largest HD video screen.


marriage: the gayening
Mood: chatty
Music: Michael Andrews -"Mad World (Alternate Version)"
Posted on 2009-05-20 14:54:00
Tags: gay politics links
Words: 189

The New Hampshire legislature narrowly didn't pass the gay marriage bill (amended as the governor requested), but sent it back to committee so it might come up for a vote again in two weeks. Of course, then who knows if the governor will sign it?

Supposedly the California Prop 8 lawsuit decision will be handed down tomorrow. If it overturns Prop 8 it's possible gay marriage will be legal in California again. Not having followed the proceedings at all I'd bet against it, though.

The Nevada legislature passed a domestic partner bill but the governor has said he'd veto it.

Gay Marriage Slow to Draw an Opposition in N.Y. - good?

All these things are keeping me on my toes updating the same-sex marriage map. Hoping to add a few small features later this week.

Non-gay marriage links:

You know how everyone says the divorce rate is 50%? Apparently that's not true if you look at it as how many people have ever been divorced.

Lost Season 5 recap with crazy crazy theories.

A review of "Glee" which we watched last night. I thought it was kinda (and surprisingly) good!


rumsfeld flashbacks
Mood: okay
Music: "Star Trek" soundtrack
Posted on 2009-05-18 10:41:00
Tags: happiness politics links
Words: 575

Apparently the President's Worldwide Intelligence Updates (prepared by the Pentagon) often had verses from the Bible on the cover, which makes me a little queasy. I agree that, if you're religious, there's nothing wrong with looking to your religion/God for faith and guidance, but this seems more like "Hey, the Bible says this whole war thing is A-OK, carry on!" The accompanying article is full of new information about Rumsfeld, including

The next day, three days after landfall, word of disorder in New Orleans had reached a fever pitch. According to sources familiar with the conversation, DHS secretary Michael Chertoff called Rumsfeld that morning and said, “You’re going to need several thousand troops.”

“Well, I disagree,” said the SecDef. “And I’m going to tell the president we don’t need any more than the National Guard.”

The problem was that the Guard deployment (which would eventually reach 15,000 troops) had not arrived—at least not in sufficient numbers, and not where it needed to be. And though much of the chaos was being overstated by the media, the very suggestion of a state of anarchy was enough to dissuade other relief workers from entering the city. Having only recently come to grips with the roiling disaster, Bush convened a meeting in the Situation Room on Friday morning. According to several who were present, the president was agitated. Turning to the man seated at his immediate left, Bush barked, “Rumsfeld, what the hell is going on there? Are you watching what’s on television? Is that the United States of America or some Third World nation I’m watching? What the hell are you doing?”

Rumsfeld replied by trotting out the ongoing National Guard deployments and suggesting that sending active-duty troops would create “unity of command” issues. Visibly impatient, Bush turned away from Rumsfeld and began to direct his inquiries at Lieutenant General Honoré on the video screen. “From then on, it was a Bush-Honoré dialogue,” remembers another participant. “The president cut Rumsfeld to pieces. I just wish it had happened earlier in the week.”

Another excellent article I read this weekend was What Makes Us Happy? in The Atlantic. (a magazine I consistently enjoy) It looks at a study that started following Harvard students in the 1930s and kept up with them until now, trying to determine what factors were most important to living a happy life. What they found was
Employing mature adaptations was one. The others were education, stable marriage, not smoking, not abusing alcohol, some exercise, and healthy weight. Of the 106 Harvard men who had five or six of these factors in their favor at age 50, half ended up at 80 as what Vaillant called “happy-well” and only 7.5 percent as “sad-sick.” Meanwhile, of the men who had three or fewer of the health factors at age 50, none ended up “happy-well” at 80. Even if they had been in adequate physical shape at 50, the men who had three or fewer protective factors were three times as likely to be dead at 80 as those with four or more factors.
(bolding mine) The "mature adaptations" they mention consist of
altruism, humor, anticipation (looking ahead and planning for future discomfort), suppression (a conscious decision to postpone attention to an impulse or conflict, to be addressed in good time), and sublimation (finding outlets for feelings, like putting aggression into sport, or lust into courtship)
(bolding mine)

One more: here's Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame.


hurried links
Mood: busy
Posted on 2009-05-15 14:34:00
Tags: gay politics links
Words: 198

Is it the end of May yet?

A Roomba's path (by taking a long exposure time picture) is pretty chaotic!

Yes, Star Trek: The Next Generation had a torture episode.

In The Fierce Urgency of Whenever, Andrew Sullivan is pretty pissed Obama hasn't done much for gays yet. I mostly agree, although I'm a bit more patient. It turns out Obama wrote a personal note saying he's "committed to changing our current policy" of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

The governor of New Hampshire says he'll sign the gay marriage bill if religious protections are added, which the legislature has indicated they'll do. Sweet! For the record, I have absolutely no problem with saying religions don't have to recognize gay marriages. (even though, to my understanding, they don't have to even without the wording he wants in the bill) After all these bills go into effect, Rhode Island will be the only state in New England without gay marriage. That is some craziness, folks.

With The 'Gay Tax,' Love Doesn't Come Cheap - why, despite the awesomeness that is states allowing gay marriage, the fact that it's not recognized at a federal level still costs couples a lot of money.


Hello New York friends!
Mood: hopeful
Music: Evanescence - "Lithium"
Posted on 2009-05-13 14:06:00
Tags: gay politics
Words: 88

The New York state assembly passed a gay marriage bill last night, and Governor Paterson has said he'll sign it if it gets to him. Before that happens, it has to pass the state senate, where a gay marriage bill has failed before.

If you could take a minute and write or call your state senator and ask him/her to support the bill (the number is S4401, although I'm sure they'll know what you're talking about!) you could make a difference. And it would make me very happy!


pride and prejudice and zombies and "star trek" and wedding and words
Mood: busy
Posted on 2009-05-11 14:03:00
Tags: movies ljbackup wedding books
Words: 377

In reverse order:

- My bad. I posted to Facebook that my epic jury duty recounting was 9500 words long, which sounded more improbable the more I thought about it. Indeed, my word-counting was counting characters instead of words, so after a little tuneup the statistics show it was only 2228 words long (still my longest post ever). In fact, now I know I write an average of 200 words per entry! And over the life of my LJ (including protected posts which don't show up in the public statistics) I've written 204550 words, or around 126 words a day.

- Wedding stuff is going fine. I sent the invitations out today at lunch!

- "Star Trek" movie = good. We saw it at the Alamo Drafthouse, so I had a Romulan Ale before it even started which made it even better. (also, Kirk's Iowa steak with McCoy's baked beans, while arriving extremely late (the waiter took half off the price) was delicious) The new 4K digital projection thingy was incredibly crisp and I really enjoyed the movie. (talking about seeing it again soonish!)

- I have a long history with "Pride and Prejudice". I was forced to read it in 7th grade and hate hate hated it, didn't understand most of it, and got a "D" or something like that on the test. As such, I never had any desire to watch the A&E miniseries even though my mom and sister(s?) loved it, and I generally went on with my life.

For my birthday, djedi got me Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I started reading it, and awesomeness ensued. The first paragraph is:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. Never was this truth more plain than during the recent attacks at Netherfield Park, in which a household of eighteen was slaughtered and consumed by a horde of the living dead.
There was enough zombie happenings to keep me interested throughout the book, and I even got kind of engaged with the non-zombie plot, which is nothing short of remarkable. Also, there are illustrations!

I'd recommend it (my mom and at least one sister want to borrow it) and am eagerly awaiting Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 2!


I am the law!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2009-05-08 17:03:00
Tags: essay jury
Words: 2228

I recently got called for jury duty and served! My incredibly long story within...

The summons said to be there at 1:30 - parking was terrible to find given I wasn't sure about whether I'd be able to feed the meter (they only go for 2 hours and I was short on change anyway), so I ended up parking 8 blocks away in an expensive garage. That kinda sucked.

As I walked in I had to go through a metal detector/X-ray thingy. The security guard (who looked a lot like Dr. Kelso on Scrubs) told me I should get a man-purse since I had so much crap in my pockets :-)

In the criminal justice center, they had a lot of airport-like screens all over the place listing names, times, and cause numbers. I never did figure out exactly what the deal was - I figured they'd be cases being heard, but for example the court I was in had a list of 10 or so people for that day, and as far as I can tell the court never did anything with them. The cause number included the year - about 80% of them were 08, most of the rest were 07, and there were a few outliers like 94.

26 people had been called for Voir dire - I think all ended up showing up. I was #6, which I figured meant I had a pretty decent chance of getting chosen.

After we lined up and sat down, the judge talked to us for a few minutes about the process, which I was already somewhat familiar with (see previous jury experience). He said the court was misdemeanor court and the case should be done by Friday.

Then the prosecutor got up and started. (interestingly, or perhaps not, both prosecutors and defense attorneys were women, as were the bailiff and court reporter) Her name was Ms. Trumm, and she said she had taught high school before getting a chance to get to law school for free (she made it sound like it just happened out of the blue, and we never heard anything else about it) and ended up wanting to work in the "women & children" (words mine, not hers) department...but she was just starting out so she was doing this instead :-) She was quite young and she seemed a bit nervous. She had a powerpoint presentation that covered a lot of the same stuff as I had seen the last time - if you don't believe in judging people or in the one-witness rule, etc., this isn't the right case for you.

She also said the crime was a DWI, and although they weren't allowed to discuss the facts of the case, it was pretty clear that there was video evidence but no breathalyzer test.

The defense attorney seemed better organized (she also had a powerpoint presentation) and she asked a series of questions that we had to answer on a scale of 1 to 6 (1 = strongly agree, 6 = strongly disagree). Some of the questions were "Do you trust a police officer more than a citizen just because he/she is a police officer?" (hint: the correct answer is no; under the law, you're allowed to take into account the officer's experience and training, but not the fact that he's a police officer) and "The police never make a mistake." Anyway, her partner was writing down all of our numerical answers which was kinda neat.

It was pretty obvious some people near me were going to be disqualified - the woman whose husband is a firefighter (and so sees lots of DWI crashes), the guy who had been in a house that was raided by the Austin Police and then they realized it was a wrong address, etc. I had a feeling from my answers that I would be picked, and lo and behold I was juror #3. The judge dismissed everyone else and the bailiff showed us to the jury room (which was not as awesome as the judge last time had led us to believe :-) ) - it had a table, some chairs, a fridge and sink and a TV with a VCR/DVD player. The judge told us to report here at 9 AM the next morning and instructed us not to talk to anyone about the case.

The next morning, I dropped David off at NI at 8 to make sure I had plenty of time to get downtown and park. This time, I had a parking pass which made things a lot easier - found a spot two blocks away and walked in. Arrived around 8:30 and had some time to chat with the other jurors (who all ended up being pretty nice) and try to not fall asleep.

Then the bailiff brought us in to the court (one of the jurors showed up late so we didn't enter until around 9:30). The judge swore us in and then the opening arguments began. The prosecutor went first (it was neat when she said "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury" and she was totally talking to me!), and she again seemed somewhat nervous, but explaining that we would see a videotape of the defendant clearly intoxicated. "Intoxicated" according to the law means that they've lost "normal" use of their physical or mental faculties as a result of alcohol or a drug or some combination of alcohol and drugs. (or it means a BAC above .08, but that didn't come into play here since the defendant refused a breathalyzer test) She finished up by saying something like "After seeing all the evidence, I think you'll find the defendant not guilty...I mean guilty." The defense's opening argument was more polished, and outlined their plan: the defendant was tired, and not a bright guy who didn't understand the tests that the officer performed that we would see in the video.

The prosecutor called her first (and only) witness, who was the officer who made the stop. Actually, she called the witness, then left the courtroom for a good 90 seconds before returning with the officer. It was somewhat anticlimactic. Anyway, turns out the defendant had run a stop sign and the cop had to slam on the brakes to avoid him, then he did a traffic stop and did the field sobriety test. Luckily, APD has video cameras on all their cop cars so we could see the defendant doing the tests. As it turned out, the defendant only spoke Spanish - the cop spoke Spanish too but there were some translation issues that came up later...

The first test is to follow a pen with your eyes while keeping your head still. The defendant had a big problem with this - he kept saying that he was tired and wasn't used to doing this sort of thing so he kept moving his head (at least according to the police officer - the video was zoomed out enough we couldn't see very clearly). The second test is to walk nine steps forward heel to toe while watching your feet and keeping your arms at your side. This was somewhat bizarre - he clearly was having trouble understanding and took a few steps asking the officer if he was doing it right. Then he did nine steps pretty good and then took nine steps backwards, without turning around. Apparently in Spanish the phrase for "nine steps back" and "nine steps backwards" are pretty much the same, although the officer demonstrated so I'm not sure what the deal was.

The third test was to stand one one leg with the other leg raised six inches off the ground and hold that for thirty seconds (counting "one thousand one, one thousand two..."). Obviously there was a misunderstanding again, because he lifted his leg, counted "one thousand one", then stepped forward, lifted his other leg, and counted "one thousand two" in a Pink Panther-esque walk.

Anyway, we got to watch this in court, as well as a court-appointed transcription/translation to English. At one point, the prosecutor asked a question, the defense attorney objected but the officer answered anyway, which made the judge kinda peeved.

It was interesting to watch how they had to introduce something into evidence: the process was ask the judge to approach, show the evidence to the court reporter, ask the witness to describe what it was, then bring it to the other attorney to see if she had any objections. At one point she did but didn't want to talk about it with us around, so we got led back to the jury room while they hashed things out.

The whole process was pretty interesting: it felt kind of odd that obviously all the lawyers were very prepared and such and their audience was us: six basically random people off the street. I guess that's how the system's supposed to work, though. It was kind of awkward at times - we saw them outside of court once or twice and they didn't say a word to us - in fact, they'd often look away to ensure nothing improper happened :-)

Wording was clearly important to both of them: the prosecutor always used the term "field sobriety test" while the defense almost always said "coordination exercises" or "government test". In fact, the defense called the prosecutor the "government attorney" a few times, which the prosecutor actually pointed out in her closing argument!

The closing arguments were pretty short - interestingly, the prosecutor went first, then the defense, and then the prosecutor again, which the judge justified by saying the state "had the burden of proof", which is of course true but seemed a bit off to me. Then (right around 5:00) we retired to the jury room - the judge said to let them know in 30 minutes or so if they wanted them to order dinner for us.

At this point I had gone back and forth about the case a lot - the defendant had definitely failed some of the sobriety tests, but it did seem possible that he just didn't understand some parts of them, and on some parts he did do pretty well. Of course, he also ran a stop sign. Upon entering the room, I asked who wanted to be the presiding juror (i.e. the foreman/woman) to which there was 5 seconds of silence and the guy next to me said "the first one who says something". So, yes, I did become the presiding juror, which I was kinda excited about.

I wanted to take a straw poll at the beginning, but other people wanted to talk for a bit first, so we went over the evidence and quickly decided we wanted to watch the tape again, so I submitted a request for that to the bailiff. We watched it and talked again and realized we were going to be there for a while so we had them order pizza and soda for us (thanks, Austin taxpayers!) At some point we took a straw poll and the results were: 3 not guilty, 2 (including me) guilty, and 1 undecided.

Pizza came and we ate and chatted some more. The discussion got a little heated at times - the guy next to me, who was the other "guilty" vote, was prone to making inflammatory statements which pissed others off, and the guy next to him had a flair for the dramatic and brought up totally irrelevant points. ("What if he's an illegal immigrant?" Well, we don't know that, and if he is or isn't, so what?)

Eventually I came around and decided that, while he was probably drunk and definitely shouldn't have been driving, there was enough doubt that met the burden of "reasonable", so I switched to "not guilty", and at 7:20 PM the last holdout also changed his mind. (turns out he used to work crazy night shifts and often drove tired) I signed the "not guilty" line of the charge, we filed back into the court, and the judge asked me if we had reached a verdict, to which I replied "we have, your honor" which was awesome :-) He then read the verdict (without asking me if it was correct!) and then thanked us for our service.

He then said that we were free to talk about the case (or not if we didn't want to) and that the lawyers were usually interested in talking to the jury. So I hung around and talked to them, which was pretty cool. They said they usually tried to pick who they thought the presiding juror would be but guessed the guy next to me, although they did say that I seemed to be enjoying the experience (guilty as charged!). We talked about what we discussed in the jury room and why we eventually voted not guilty, although it was a close case. On the way out I chatted with another lawyer who explained that in voir dire, they only get 3 peremptory strikes of potential jurors - all the other strikes have to be "for cause" (i.e. if both sides or at least the judge agrees there's a possible bias).

Anyway, the whole thing was a fun experience, even though I had a ton of work to do, and I definitely hope to do it again some time, even though there were long stretches of boredom and I was tired most of the day. I felt proud to be part of the legal system :-)


flu marches on
Mood: bored
Posted on 2009-05-04 14:51:00
Tags: swineflu links
Words: 133

and apparently Travis County has its first confirmed case! That's exciting, I guess. Keep washing your hands, etc. Here's an article describing how schools decide when to close - it really makes a big difference in the spread of viruses if they close as soon as they see a few cases. Of course, then the virus doesn't spread and people complain about "overhyping" the threat and such...which is true, but if we hadn't taken it as seriously it would have been worse.

Car Warranty Racket Exposed on Today Show - I wonder if these are the jerks that keep calling me? I hate those guys.

Talking Gadget Theater II: The Kindle 2 and iPod Shuffle perform Wrath of Khan - their enunciation is pitch-perfect!

Space-racism is bad: And 17 other not-so-subtle lessons learned from Star Trek

1 comment

Houston Health Department on twitter
Mood: proud
Posted on 2009-05-02 18:34:00
Tags: family swineflu
Words: 25

I just helped my mom set up HoustonHealth on Twitter. Follow her for the latest on swine flu (excuse me, 2009 H1N1 influenza) in Houston!


swine flu ads from the 1970s
Mood: calm
Posted on 2009-04-29 15:57:00
Tags: swineflu
Words: 52

Apparently in the 1976 there was a case of swine flu which got people worried about a pandemic which never happened. It seems like we're beyond that point now, but it's a little reassuring. Anyway, here are a few commercials from those days:

(youtube link because the embedded player is acting up)

1 comment

swine flu
Mood: calm
Posted on 2009-04-27 12:18:00
Tags: family swineflu
Words: 79

If you want to keep informed, there's CDCemergency on Twitter, as well as and (which is memorable but a bit alarmist at this point).

Being a slight hypochondriac, I plan to keep tabs on news but not too closely.

Wash your hands a lot, avoid touching your face with your hands, and stay home if you're sick.

Also, apparently my mom is liveblogging for a local news station tomorrow night, so that's pretty cool :-) - here's the link!


Austin mayoral election
Mood: happy
Posted on 2009-04-26 12:09:00
Tags: essay politics
Words: 247

Yes, it's election season, or something! The Austin city election is May 9, and early voting runs from April 27 (tomorrow) to May 5. Here's a list of early voting locations (.pdf).

The "major" candidates are -

Lee Leffingwell - (Statesman article about him) He's a former airline pilot currently serving on the City Council. He spoke out early against the now-canceled Time Warner b caps. He's been endorsed by many organizations around the city, including the Austin Chronicle and Burnt Orange Report. I think I'm going to vote for Lee.

Brewster McCracken - (Statesman article about him) He's currently serving on the City Council. He drove the Pecan Street Project to modernize the electrical grid in Austin. He's been endorsed by the Austin American-Statesman, and honestly seems like a pretty good candidate. I still might vote for him if I change my mind.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn - (Statesman article about her) Austin elections are officially non-partisan (I believe), but she's held statewide office as a Republican before. Nevertheless, she ran for governor in 2006 as an independent and was the mayor of Austin from 1977-1983.

Other ways to get direct comparisons between the candidates:
- Voters Guide (.pdf) from the League of Women Voters.
- Four questions for Austin's mayoral candidates

Minor candidates - neither one of these guys have held elected office before, as far as I can tell.
- David Buttross
- Josiah Ingalls

I read in the paper this morning that turnout in Austin city election is abysmal, hovering around 10%. VOTE!

1 comment

A pretty picture for a Friday night
Mood: happy
Posted on 2009-04-24 23:16:00
Tags: pretty projects
Words: 59

Created with Pretty Pictures with genotype:

(div-clip (colorperlin 1362710210 278847481 1402125762 (add-wrap (abs (num 0.031681362818044456)) (sub-clip (cos (ccrgb (sin (atan-clip (rd (add-clip (add-wrap x (num 0.578092059228798)) x)))) y (num 0.23646468718646263))) (colorperlin 1502179640 1316738189 454935563 (neg (div-wrap x y)) (num 0.5078184951973896)))) x) (bwperlin 880129745 (abs (add-clip (sin x) (ccrgb y (sub-wrap (cos x) (neg (log-clip (num 0.05318551299931629)))) (num 0.751250719855975)))) y))


this week is over, this week is through!
Mood: groovy
Music: Garbage - "When I Grow Up"
Posted on 2009-04-24 11:19:00
Tags: health projects politics
Words: 60

I updated Pretty Pictures to include perlin noise, as copperwolf suggested, and added a tuning option. The pictures, they are prettier now.

On the tooth front, I only took one Advil yesterday...maaaaaybe it's getting better by itself?

I'm getting awfully tired of reading National Review editorials in my morning Austin American-Statesman, like this one saying torture really isn't so bad.


Seriously, Texas?
Mood: horrified
Posted on 2009-04-23 15:41:00
Tags: politics
Words: 60

From this poll:

QUESTION: Do you think Texas would be better off as an independent nation or as part of the United States of America?


You're telling me that 48% of Republicans in Texas think we'd be better off seceding?


faster pretty pictures
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2009-04-22 11:05:00
Tags: projects programming
Words: 56

Just finished rewriting the backend to Pretty Pictures from Genetic Algorithms in C++ (it used to be in Python). It's easy to forget how much faster C++ can be than Python - I even turned on an option by default to make all images color, which made things unacceptably slow in Python. It's fun to play with!


post-birthday blues
Mood: stressed
Posted on 2009-04-21 13:01:00
Tags: health rant birthday work wedding politics
Words: 297

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes! I had a nice dinner and post-dinner Rock Band session (we're Rock Immortals now!) and caught up a bit with my family. And we're making really good progress on wedding stuff, so that's gotten a lot less stressful. Also, now I'm 27, which is 33, and next year I'll be 28 which is a perfect number! (after that, it's all downhill, I'm sure)

That notwithstanding, things kinda suck right now. Let me run down why, because I'm sure you're all dying to know!

Torture - So when Ex-President Bush said "We don't torture", apparently what he meant was "We don't torture, except when we do". This is not terribly surprising, but it is a little depressing. (we waterboarded one guy 183 times in a month even after he had given up intelligence) I haven't had the heart to read the memos, but I applaud Obama for releasing them.

Work - The last week of work has been the worst week in at least a year. (I wish I had some sort of device where I recorded how work went that day, then I could track the data over time and say definitively how bad last week was!) This week is shaping up to be somewhat better, but it looks like I'm going to be generally stressed for at least another month and a half.

Teeth - As I mentioned, my filled tooth still hurts, and my mom and djedi convinced me to see the dentist again. And they took an X-ray and it looks like I need yet another root canal, to the tune of $1200 out of pocket. I'm going to get a second opinion, which means more work and stress and time away from work, which means more work stress. Argh.

1 comment

Time Warner shelving bandwidth caps!
Mood: impressed
Posted on 2009-04-16 15:54:00
Tags: timewarner
Words: 19

According to this statement! Although it sounds like they're still planning on it at some point in the future.


neat things
Mood: relieved
Posted on 2009-04-16 13:36:00
Tags: links
Words: 39

This giant poster of the 2009 budget is pretty darn awesome. (here's the full image)

Also good: This guide of things to invent if you travel back in time shirt and poster, courtesy of Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics!


a cool toy and some anger
Mood: okay
Posted on 2009-04-15 13:21:00
Tags: rant politics links
Words: 204

Cool toy: This ToneMatrix thingy. Note that if you right-click, you can copy and paste music in. My two quick compositions:

The scale is a pentatonic one (do, re, mi, so, la) which means that basically any combination of notes sounds good. The lack of dissonance gets a little...creepy? after a while, but it's fun to play with. There's actually a real instrument called the tenori-on that does something similar, and an iPhone version. (as well as another iPhone version by Brian Eno that looks even cooler)

Now. Today is Tax Day, and some conservative-types are holding tea parties to protest government spending. (and presumably the deficit?) Let me just say this - if you disliked Bush's expansion of government spending (specifically the Iraq war, Medicare expansion, etc.) and you're protesting, at least you're consistent. If you just hate Obama and everything he stands for, well at least you're being honest. But if you cheerleaded everything Bush did and started worrying about government spending and the deficit on January 20th, then you're not being serious. If you have no suggestions for what you want to cut, you're not being serious. If you favor tax cuts and lower deficits, you're really really deluding yourself.

1 comment

marriage map: now with flashing!
Mood: happy
Posted on 2009-04-11 00:04:00
Tags: gay projects
Words: 31

It's true! You can click on the legend to make states that have that status blink.

Note to self: using fractional RGB values makes things silently not work. Don't do that.


Stuff I've been following: Time Warner, gay stuff, dentist
Mood: busy
Posted on 2009-04-10 10:03:00
Tags: health activism gay links
Words: 480

Time Warner

After my somewhat indignant email, I called Time Warner Austin customer service (800-418-8848) to express my displeasure. Had to wait on hold for around 10 minutes and when it went through, I just talked for a few sentences. It wasn't particularly eloquent, but I said what I wanted to say, namely that if they did this tiered bandwidth cap thing I was going to leave. I could hear the rep not taking me very seriously, but oh well.

More information: destoyerj found this article showing just how expensive the plans will be per GB (very). Here's Time Warner's latest statement - basically they're increasing the caps (slightly), adding a 1 GB cap tier (the only plan, I believe, that's cheaper than the current one), and delaying the start of the trials in Austin and San Antonio until October. And here's a kinda long response to the letter, point by point.

Since apparently a house just across Metric has AT&T U-Verse but we can't get it here yet (grumble grumble), I'm hoping it's available before October. I'd really like to switch away for cable as well, but AT&T doesn't have CableCards which would make our TiVo very sad.

Gay stuff

With last week's Supreme Court ruling in Iowa and this week's dramatic governor's override to allow same-sex marriage in Vermont, it's been a pretty good 10 days or so. Unsurprisingly, there has been some negative reaction.

Here's a ad from the National Organization for Marriage. Storm clouds aside, the three stories that are told are:
- A California doctor cannot refuse to treat a lesbian based on religious belief. Cry me a river.
- A New Jersey church group had a pavilion that was open to the general public for events but refused access for civil union ceremonies. Here I kinda sympathize with the church group - although it's kind of a dick mode, I think they should be allowed to deny people the use of their pavilion. Of course, this isn't a huge infringement on their's just a pavilion.
- A Massachusetts parent complaining that the public schools teach her child about same-sex couples. Well, she certainly has the right to disagree at home, but not teaching something in school (that happens to be the law in their state) because somewhat might object is just the sort of political correctness that conservatives are always complaining about.

Less importantly, the National Review came out with a truly homophobic editorial. Andrew Sullivan does the breakdown.


My tooth still hurts from the filling I had done last week. Why?? Is this normal? I'm tired of this crap and think I might switch dentists.

Finally, some links

Actually, just one link, but it's a good one: The Road to Area 51, featuring actual interviews with people who worked there talking about what they worked on. (some programs were recently declassified) The truth is out there!


Email to Time Warner re bandwidth caps
Mood: irritated
Posted on 2009-04-08 11:13:00
Tags: activism timewarner
Words: 226

As a followup to Time Warner's proposed bandwidth caps, I sent the following email to, and encourage you to do the same:

To whom it may concern:

My name is Gregory Stoll and I'm a current Time Warner Cable customer in Austin, TX. I've heard that Time Warner is planning on imposing a tier-based bandwidth allocation system in Austin and I am very unhappy about this.

The maximum cap, 40 GB a month, is far too low to be reasonable. Even watching a couple of TV shows from or movies from Netflix online will put me dangerously close to the cap. Even the proposed "super-tier" of 100 GB a month (source: ), while somewhat more reasonable, pales in comparison to Comcast's 250 GB a month cap (source: ).

I've had Time Warner Cable for cable service and internet service as long as I've been in Austin, through multiple moves, but if these changes go through, I will be forced to switch to AT&T U-Verse or Grande Communications GForce high-speed internet service.

Thank you for your time.

It's not a great email, but it'll do. If you care about these bandwidth caps, take a minute and send a copy (although you should probably edit the personal details :-) ) to

I plan on calling Austin customer service (800-418-8848) tonight and saying basically the same thing.


same-sex marriage legal in vermont!
Mood: ecstatic
Posted on 2009-04-07 10:03:00
Tags: gay politics
Words: 35

This just in - the House passed the override vote 100-49, which is exactly what was needed. Vermont is the first state to allow same-sex marriage without a court order.

I have a map to update!


Go earlier/later

This backup was done by LJBackup.