Thursday, February 05, 2015

Reviving the "25 Things About Me" Meme

It's probably the ultimate in navel-gazing, but what the hell. I responded to the meme in early 2009, I've added some additional comments [[in double brackets]] in early 2015, just after my 58th birthday.

  1. My parents met at Middlebury College in about 1950. Dad was a history major, Mom was an English major and I've always been interested in both history and English (though I went on to be an English major, too). They had relatives who were into genealogy, so I know I've had ancestors in New England from both sides of my family since 1642.
  2. I'm the oldest of four children - two girls/two boys. As was more common in the '50s and '60s, my mother had four children in seven years.
  3. I learned how to read when I was 5, mostly because I spent weeks in the hospital and at home suffering from nephritis. I was hyperactive and was one of the few girls on Ritalin in 1962.
  4. I was one of the tallest kids in kindergarten with one of the biggest voices so I played Santa Claus in the Christmas pagent. "Ho Ho Ho."
  5. My father spent most of his career as Director of Placement for Worcester Polytechnic Institute and my mother was a free lance writer who went on to work for WPI's Alumni Journal. Dad was active in local theater groups (including playing Mr. Gibbs in Our Town the week I graduated from high school) and Mom was sometimes sang in a church choir.
  6. We rarely traveled out of New England while I was growing up (with 4 kids, it was a little tricky), but in 1968, we made a big cross country trip with our grandmother completely by train since my mother wouldn't fly. We went to Chicago, Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, Anaheim, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Vancouver and Montreal. Ironically, a landslide hit the train in the Canadian Rockies and killed one passenger.
  7. In the '70s, West Boylston Jr.-Sr. High was a small school with an odd configuration - grades 8-12. The eighth graders were not supposed to join the senior high clubs, but I showed up at Drama Club anyway and wasn't tossed out. There may still exist a black and white tape of my adaptation of "Repent Harlequin, Said the TickTockMan" that I wrote and starred in for a Drama Class in about 1974.
  8. I touched my first computer keyboard nearly 35 years ago. It was an early Wang that our school got to teach students computer programming. Paul Yankowskas was also in the computer class, where we learned how to program "Hello World" in BASIC.
  9. During high school, I was in Central District Choir three times and Massachusetts All-State once. I made a touring choir (Concordia Youth Chorale) in 1974 and spent three weeks touring Germany, Austria and Italy, with a lunch in Switzerland. This trip made me love international travel and lager beer.
  10. While my parents strongly encouraged me to go to Middlebury, I wanted to go to a college in a city out of New England but in the northeast. After spending years researching colleges, I narrowed it down to Case Western (Cleveland) and Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh). I visited both colleges a few weeks before graduation and picked CMU because I liked Pittsburgh much more than Cleveland.
  11. I met Jim Mann at a science fiction club meeting on campus two weeks to the day that I arrived. While we became fast friends, we didn't start to date until the following February. The rest, as they say, is history.
  12. When Jim and I got married in Massachusetts on May 22, 1977, it was 96 degrees! We had a simple ceremony with an informal reception at an estate on the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
  13. I made the University of Pittsburgh College Bowl Trivia Team, at a time when College Bowl wasn't televised but was an interscholastic competition. We placed second in a regional competition. While I later did well playing trivia in bars, I've taken the Jeopardy test twice and failed both times.
  14. Leslie was due Election Day 1980, so I got an absentee ballot...which I never needed to file since she wound up being nearly three weeks early. Her first trip outside was so I could go vote. I have voted in every federal election since 1976.
  15. When we moved up to Massachusetts in 1982, a huge number of the members of NESFA, the local science fiction club, worked for Digital Equipment Corporation. I was interested in going to work for a computer company, and, eventually, got a job with Stratus Computer (thanks, Kurt Baty!). I worked for Stratus in a number of jobs for nearly ten years; Jim later worked there for about eight years as a technical writer.
  16. I've had an E-mail address since 1983, owned a PC since 1988 and been active on the Internet since 1988. At Stratus, I created a departmental intranet in 1986, in an effort to help track forms, training information and other information about publication production.
  17. I learned HTML in 1994 and created the first Hugo/Nebula site in HTML (AwardWeb) that October. I went on to run Women Leaders online for a few years, and then took over Dead People Server, a site I've been curating since 1997.
  18. I burned out after working for about three years at ANSYS (which included an insane schedule to convert documents to XML in advance of our then-current publishing software failing at the end of 1999), and went back to finish my long-delayed college degree at Pitt in 2000. I graduated with honors in April 2001.
  19. I'm enough of a movie fan that 2009 marks the 40th year I both predicted Oscar winners and will be watching the show. In 2004, I actually watched the Oscars from a ballroom in Hollywood along with 1,000 rowdy Lord of the Rings fans. About 20 members of the cast and crew of LOTR visited our party later than night with their Oscars.
  20. Our daughter had no first cousins until she was 23 years old; now she she has 4.
  21. While most of my family have been longtime Republicans, my mother's cousin Alice was a Democratic legislator in Vermont who used to commute to Montpelier with Howard Dean in his pick-up truck. Politically, I take after Alice's side of the family (at least after 1975 or so).
  22. While I can't say "I was nominated for a Hugo," I can say "A book I edited was nominated for a Hugo" since William Tenn's "Dancing Naked" was nominated for a Non-Fiction Hugo in 2005. Since Phil was unable to go to Worldcon in Scotland, I was his designated acceptor. It was an honor to be a designated acceptor! ;->
  23. I worked for Obama, voted for him (only the 3rd time I voted for a winning president), and attended his Inauguration (1.5 miles away from the Capitol, but what the hell).
  24. My movie geekdom probably reached its peak in 2008 when I was an extra on "She's Out of My League," and I started the fan site "The Road Rumors and News." Both movies are due out in 2009. [[Since then, I've been on about 30 different movie/TV sets.]]
  25. [[We've been able to take some big trips since 2009, and have gone to southeastern Australia, Alaska, England, Ireland, Wales and Canada (twice).]]

Monday, November 03, 2014

Why To Vote in the Mid-Terms

It's simple - anyone who tells you "it's not worth voting since all politicians are the same" is lying!

Are the Democrats perfect? Well, no. But the Democrats:

So I will vote for the party who cares more about supporting the people than what the Koch Brothers and ALEC tell them to do - I will vote for Democrats. I used to vote Republican regularly, but, over the years, the Republicans have become the party of the rich and cares little about this country as a whole. And that's very sad.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Don't Stay In a Relationship When Someone Beats You

I have always known about abused women because, as early as in high school, I knew girls who were beaten up by their boyfriends. As much as I wanted a boyfriend, I swore I would never be in a relationship where a man beat me.

While my parents were argumentative, I never saw either parent ever lay a hand each other. And the same is true of Jim and me - we certainly argue (especially when we were younger) but we don't beat one another.

People need to expect to be in relationships that include mutual respect. If it includes beating, the person needs to leave.

Now, I certainly understand why women, in particular might stay - status, financial issues, if there are kids involved...but that goes back to needing to have a positive self-image, which, sadly, many women don't have. And I'm sorry if this comes off as being too judgmental about women like Janay [Ray Lewis's fiance now wife]...but I'd rather work in WalMART (and I despise WalMART) than be in a relationship where a man treated me badly.

But, the fact is, women are trained, particularly by many religious, to be subservient to men. That leaves men thinking that they have the right to abuse women, that they have ownership.

Enough already.

So how to we raise our children to know:

  • You don't beat people
  • You don't let yourself be beaten
  • You don't stay in a relationship where you are beaten

?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What City Has the Most Bridges and Why Is This Fact Unfindable on the Web?

I am a trivia fanatic. I grew up glued to College Bowl, Jeopardy and almost memorizing the '70s version of the Guinness Books of World Records.

When I was younger and had a better memory, it was easy to memorize trivial facts because they are facts. Tom Hanks won the Best Actor Oscar for Forrest Gump the year after winning one for Philadelphia. Easy. The Union beat the Confederacy in the Civil War. Clearly a fact though some people might still argue that particular one.

I do a little work for a company that gives tours of Pittsburgh. I know one trivial fact about Pittsburgh we always said was "Pittsburgh has the second most bridges in the world after Venice." Makes sense. Both are cities with rivers/canals and loads of bridges that go over them. I visited Venice in 1974, and saw many, many tiny bridges that were walkways over narrow canals all over town. The next year, I moved to Pittsburgh to go to college and saw a very different landscape - bridges over much wider rivers, and bridges that went between the many ridges and hills in the area.

But yesterday I was talking to a woman from Hamburg, Germany who was insistent that Hamburg had the most number of bridges of any city in the world. I really don't know anything about Hamburg, so I tried to look it up online...And found it was really hard. Because the first "fact" about "most bridges in a city" was from ask.com - and it was completely wrong. Ask.com claims that Pittsburgh has the most bridges of any city - more than Venice, even - 446. Venice only has 409. So Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice.

But, after digging a little more, I found that Hamburg has at least 2300 bridges. Maybe it's a geographically huge city, because that's a lot of bridges.

So vis a vis bridges, Hamburg was #1, Pittsburgh was #2 and Venice was #3.

But then someone said "What about Amsterdam?" so I looked - and Amsterdam has 1281 bridges.

So that means ask.com is at least doubly-wrong about the number of bridges; Hamburg is #1, Amsterdam is #2, Pittsburgh is #3 and Venice is #4.

Ask.com has no obvious place to send corrections.


And I am curious about this, so if you know about a city that has at least 400 bridges and a way online to verify this fact, send it to me and I'll keep a running tally here.

Cities with the Most Bridges

last updated 2/18/2014

Hamburg, Germany: 2,300
Amsterdam, Netherlands: 1,281
New York, New York, USA: 788
Pittsburgh, PA, USA: 446
Venice, Italy: 409
. . . Seattle, WA, USA: 149
. . . Cities that probably have loads of bridges but I can't find a specific number:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Live in Southcentral PA & Know a Person with a Dark-Colored Ford Ranger XLT Pickup with Recent Damage?

Just read of a tragic gun murder in Pennsylvania, yet another example of crazy people having access to guns.

If you live in southcentral Pennsylvania, northcentral Maryland or northeastern West Virginia, and you know someone with a dark colored Ford Ranger XLT pickup with damage on the driver's side from ramming another car on 1/5, you may know a murderer.

CNN's coverage of this story.

Please share this information around if you live in the region - you may know someone who'd murder a random motorist, and who may be connected to one or two other shootings in the region over the last few months. You can help find the murderer of Timothy Davison if you share the CNN story with others, and if you be on the lookout for a dark colored Ford Ranger XLT pickup.

Of course, if you do know a gun owner who owns this kind of truck, talk to the cops. Don't try to be a hero or, for that matter, accuse an innocent person of a murder.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering the Newtown Kids on the First Anniversary of Their Murders

  • The 1st anniversary after the #newtown murders - remember the kids shot that day, as the NRA-owned Congress does not care - WE DO! #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Emilie Parker who would've been 7 on 5/12, wanted to be Hermionie Granger for her birthday. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Charlotte Bacon, in whose memory a Kindness Award was started. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Jesse Lewis who wrote "Nurturing Healing Love" on a chalkboard at home before he was murdered. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering the rambunctious Noah Pozner whose twin sister was in another class. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering red-headed Daniel Barden whose dad taught him Jingle Bells on the piano on his last morning. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Olivia Engel, who was a Daisy Girl Scout. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Josephine Gay, who loved the water and whose parents set up a fund for autistic children. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Dylan Hockley whose parents included a reading of Goodnight Moon at his memorial service. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Madeleine Hsu who loved dogs and wearing pink. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Catherine Hubbard who loved animals. Her parents asked for donations to an animal center. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Chase Kowalski who loved sports & played baseball. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Ana Marquez-Greene, who sang via video during her funeral. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering James Mattioli who always loved to sing. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Grace McDonnell who loved the beach. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Jack Pinto who was buried in a NY Giants jersey. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Caroline Previdi whose favorite charity was The Toy Chest at her church. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Jessica Rekos who wanted cowboy boots for Christmas. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Avielle Richman whose Dad had been blogging about her adventures in 2012. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Jonathan Wheeler who wanted to be a paleontologist. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Allison Wyatt, an artistic girl who shared with strangers. #WeAreNewtown
  • We should never forget the children of #newtown, particularly on the anniversary of their murders. Write your representative - better gun laws save lives. #WeAreNewtown

I have remembered the educators who tried to protect the children on Dead People Server.


Never forget that these were the senators who cared more about the NRA's opinion of them than the 90% of the public who wants better background checks. Here are the Twitter accounts of these senators:

@SenAlexander @KellyAyotte @SenJohnBarrasso @MaxBaucus @SenatorBegich

@RoyBlunt @JohnBoozeman @SenatorBurr @SaxbyChambliss @SenDanCoates

@TomCoburn @JeffFlake @SenThadCochran @SenBobCorker @JohnCornyn

@MikeCrapo @SenTedCruz @SenatorEnzi @SenMikeLee @SenatorFischer

@GrahamBlog @ChuckGrassley @SenOrrinHatch @jiminhofe

@SenatorHeitkamp @SenDeanHeller @SenJohnHoeven @SenatorIsakson

@Mike_Johanns @SenRonJohnson @McConnellPress @JerryMoran

@lisamurkowski @SenRandPaul @robportman @SenMarkPryor @SenatorRisch

@SenPatRoberts @marcorubio @SenatorTimScott @SenatorSessions

@SenShelbyPress @SenJohnThune @DavidVitter @SenatorWicker

Friday, December 13, 2013

Twitter Hashtag - #FirstThingIBoughtOnline

Started a Twitter hashtag in honor of this most commercial of seasons: #FirstThingIBoughtOnline: 3-year old cheddar cheese @CabotCoop 12/1994 What's the first thing you bought online? Stop by Twitter, use the hashtag and write about it!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Facebook Was Broken for Me Today (10/21/2013)

When I wake up, I check my mail, Facebook and Twitter. All was well this morning. Ran some errands and was back around 9am. Everything else was fine...except that I could not add comments to any Facebook page. Earlier, some of the pages also looked wrong, but that problem has since gone away. Very annoying. So if you're looking for me on Facebook, I guess you won't find me there today.


By about 10:30, the problem went away as mysteriously as it came. Other people have reported similar problems on Facebook today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Never Forget: These Senators Voted for the United States to Default on Its Debts

As you consider who to vote for in future elections, remember these Senators voted for the United States to default on its debts.

@TomCoburn @JohnCornyn @MikeCrapo @SenTedCruz @SenatorEnzi
@ChuckGrassley @SenDeanHeller @SenRonJohnson @SenMikeLee
@SenRandPaul @SenatorRisch @SenPatRoberts @marcorubio
@SenatorTimScott @SenatorSessions @SenShelbyPress
@SenToomey @DavidVitter @SenatorWicker

Oh, and even though everyone knew there would be a vote last night, Inhofe did not vote at all, though he was reported to be sick.

Interesting but not surprising that the overwhelming number of Senators voting "No" (for default) represent former slave states.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thinking About Convention Codes of Conduct

In the "old days" (about 1976 or so), there was an informal Fannish Code of Conduct:

Do Good
Do No Harm
Throw a Good Room Party

At last night's Confluence meeting, we had a brief discussion about developing a code of conduct for Confluence and I said I'd help develop one.

Ideally, I'd like it to be what we had in the '70s - something extremely short, to just remind people to be adults.

There have been some harassment issues at Confluence. They haven't been quite as ugly as at other cons, but I know they have happened. People have the right to attend a con and if they feel unsafe, the con com should be told and the harasser should have his (or her) membership pulled.

Boskone's Code of Conduct gets pretty much to the point (and was vetted by at least one if not two lawyers):

http://www.nesfa.org/boskone/codeofconduct.html

I think some cons have codes of conduct that go on a bit long (even if I do agree with most of its points):

http://techdays.org/2013/03/code-of-conduct/

Both John Scalzi

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/07/02/my-new-convention-harassment-policy/

and Mary Robinette Kowal

http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/on-sexual-harassment-at-conventions-elise-matheson-speaks-out/

have written at length about Con Behavior/Codes of Conduct.

It would be nice if our Code of Conduct could be something simple as:

Don't be a jagoff
A jagoff is a person who harasses others, feels entitled to make sexual advances, tries to make others feel uncomfortable. If someone tells you "No" or "Go Away" and you don't go away, you're a jagoff. If your behavior continues and is reported to a con com member, we can pull your badge and tell you to "Go Away."
So, don't be a jagoff, be an adult.

For folks from outside the Pittsburgh area, common definitions for jagoff.