Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Traffic Light Update

Wondrous day!

There's a traffic light at the intersection of Tremont and West Newton where the 'walk' signal has never worked as long as I've been going by there (three years or so). I'd push the button sometimes, as a sort of ritualistic gesture, like rubbing a statue's toes for luck or something, but I long ago learned not to expect any result.

But today, without any outward signs of change in the light, the box with the 'walk' signal, or the pole with the button...somehow, the signal works! That little lighted walking person silhouette is displayed!

I was nearly too stunned to actually cross the street.

I salute the Boston Transportation Department for making this repair. I'd make some sarcastic remark about how it's good to see city maintenance done in a timely fashion, but honestly, it's not as if I ever reported that the light was broken, so maybe no one else did either. 'Walk' signals are more a suggestion than a rule in Boston anyway, so maybe no one ever missed it enough to call it in, and I suppose it's entirely possible they didn't even know about it until yesterday.

It's not exactly a lesson in the importance of civic participation, because I don't know that someone finally reported it and that's why it got fixed (although that's a touching story), but it's not exactly a lesson in the inability of a vast bureaucracy to fix a small pedestrian safety issue, either, because I don't know that they would have known it was broken (although that's an exasperating story).

So I guess in the end, it's a story with a very unsatisfactory lack of closure. Sorry about that.

The main thing is, I was excited out of all proportion to the meaning of the event when I saw that little walking person figure. And if something made me happy, that's good enough, right?

Of course right.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Moderate Yum

If anyone wonders how I'm feeling these days, a short answer would be, "tired and hungry." The lack of uninterrupted sleep, plus the need to produce sustenance for a rapidly growing small creature, means I am frequently yawning and wanting a snack.

I have formed a theory of desk drawer snackables that says that the food I keep around my office should fit into a nice middle ground: it needs to be stuff I like, because I don't want to hate eating it, but it can't be stuff I really like, because then it won't last.

For example, I got a giant 4-pound bag of raw almonds. I like almonds raw, but I love them roasted (with or without salt). So I got the raw ones, because when I'm hungry I'll enjoy eating them, but I won't enjoy eating them so much that I'll eat the entire bag in a week.

Because I wouldn't put that past myself. I really love roasted nuts.

I also had a quest going for a while, trying to find that perfect Clif Bar flavor that I liked enough to eat without gagging, but not enough to chow down like candy. I'm not sure I ever got it, and I sort of went off Clif Bars at some point, but at the moment the Odwalla Food Bar, Chocowalla flavor, is doing pretty well for me.

It's chocolatey enough that I like it all right and moderately enjoy eating it, but not so chocolatey that it might as well be a Hershey bar, which I would like very much and would eat by the carton.

Any hot tips about similarly good but not too good snacks are welcome. They should probably be accompanied by a sample of the item suggested...you know, just so I can test it out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mystery Solved?

I've often idly wondered why babies and little kids have such long, long eyelashes, and on reflection I think this is the answer:

It's not actually that they have super-long lashes, it's more than they have regular-length lashes that look super-long on those little faces. It's a perspective thing, in short.

So no need to be jealous of that kid's gorgeous long eyelashes. Be jealous of his tiny face instead. Your eyelashes would be just as impressive if your face were smaller.

That's my beauty tip of the day: shrink your face for dramatically longer-looking eyelashes!

On further reflection, it's probably easier to just use some mascara. Really, people, no need to complicate things. Makeup exists, just use it if you're that concerned about your eyelashes.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Always Explain Your Code

I'm having problems with my knitted code.

I'm trying to make a 9"x9" square, so of course an important thing is to have the initial set of stitches come out to be something that's 9 inches long. I have a pattern which specifies the use of a certain number of stitches to achieve this, but people don't knit exactly alike--some pull the yarn tighter, some leave it looser--and I personally never get the right size by using the specified number.

Generally I have to add more, but how many more depends on the pattern.

This square has a repeating pattern, so you can add a certain number of stitches to get another instance of the design, but the number of stitches per pattern-iteration is 14, which is a lot. I'm only about 4 stitches (and half an inch) short of 9 inches, and when I added 14 stitches it was 10 inches, easy.

The annoying thing is that you always have to knit several rows before you have enough of the representative fabric to get an accurate measurement. You have to run the code for a while before you can tell what it's doing, we might say.

This is probably fascinating to exactly no people, but here's the thing I should have learned from practicing coding, but didn't: comments!

I've knitted this square before, so I must have solved the problem somehow. I should have written a note on what I did. Presumably added some number of non-pattern stitches to the edges, but how many? I'll have to knit it again (4th time's the charm?) to find out.

Or possibly just give up in irritation and try some other square. Which I also will not know how many stitches to use for, but at least it'll be a change of scenery. You get tired of knitting the same first 6 rows over and over.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

To The Internet Television!

This is the world we live in:

I got an email from Netflix letting me know, just in case we might be interested, that they've added the 4th season of Breaking Bad to their streaming video lineup.

In fact, we are interested. As they no doubt know considering we watched all the previous seasons this way.

Then we can immediately turn on the TV, and the PlayStation, which plays games that look like movies and also transfers video through the internet at our whim.

So we live in this world in which a company knows what we want, tells us when it's available, and we can be looking at it two minutes later, in between playing video games.

Yeah, it's weird. Convenient, though!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I'm going to have to start writing blog posts during my lunch break or something, because lately I just don't seem to have the mental energy to even contemplate it once I get home after work, scrounge some food, and get the baby to bed.

Another thing I don't have the mental energy for is freaking out about cockroaches, which we find we have living in our bathroom. (Just the bathroom so far, so far as we know. But that's just where they've been seen, so who knows where they get off to when we're not looking.)

Once upon a time this might have had me all skin-crawlingly grossed out, but now I just kind of thought "what do you know, a cockroach." Who has the strength for more, in this sticky summer weather, and with how busy we all are? After a long day, I'd rather go sit on the couch than muster up a sense of horror at our squalid living conditions.

Squalor? Yeah, fine. The internet still works though, right?

I mean, I tried to squash it, in a cursory way, but it escaped behind the sink and I couldn't be bothered to run right out in the middle of the night to purchase some deadly, deadly toxic spray and take care of the situation.

Maybe later, cockroach.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hey, No One, Look at This

Now if it were my job to teach medical students about reading papers, as opposed to just finding them, I would suggest this detailed explanation on Scientopia about assessing the reported results of randomized controlled trials.

As it is, I'll just nod thoughtfully to myself.