Megnut

Archive for January 2002

Information display at the museum

Mountain GorillaWhile in NY I was nearly attacked by an enraged mountain gorilla, oh wait, no...while in NY I visited the American Museum of Natural History, where I spent many wonderful hours viewing all kinds of exhibits that brought me back to my childhood. I can't get enough of those habitat displays filled with stuffed animals arranged in action-like stances, posed against richly-painted backdrops of their native landscape.

Something that I observed at the time but failed to capture with my camera was the way information is displayed next to the exibits, and how it's changed over time. At the older exibits, like the habitats I mentioned above, a simple paragraph of text beneath or to the side of the window explained the contents. "The Mountain Gorilla blah blah blah..." Very clean and straight-foward, almost what you'd expect from a text book. But upstairs on the fourth floor, home of the dinosaurs and primative mammels, it was very different, for that floor had recently been renovated—the information displays had a very modern, multimedia feel to them. There were underlines and arrows directing one's eye to various bits of text, and certain words were written in a larger font, often emphasized with bold or italic.

Gone were the simple paragraphs in favor of "hipper" layouts that forced the eye to track across a wide plexiglass-type sheet to take in all the information. (Why oh why didn't I take a picture of this?) More colors were used, more fonts, more visual aids, and yet, I found it much hard to read than the simple text presented on the first floor. While it certainly looked cooler, I'm not sure it did the job of presenting information any better. In fact, it might have been worse. But the dinosaurs were very cool.

On a totally different, and far more ridiculous note: Free Winona t-shirts for sale. But why does she look like Jackie O? Or the woman on an English Beat t-shirt? The answer to some of life's mysteries can never be known.

Megway in USAToday

USAToday Hot Site While I was out of town, the Megway was recognized by USA Today as a "Hot Site" in their USATODAY.com Web Guide. We're all very excited here at Megway headquarters.

Vegetable Stock

Ingredients

olive oil
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 onion
1 leek (white part and some of green)
2 cloves of garlic
fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
8 cups water

Here is New York photos

September 11 was, of course, all around me and in my thoughts frequently during my trip to NYC last week. I heard many moving stories about people's experiences during that day (most of whom were in Manhattan when it happened) and I visited Ground Zero and looked at plywood barricades scrawled with messages that stretched blocks. But our visit (by happenstance) to the Here is New York exhibit on Prince Street had the most impact on me.

Subtitled "A Democracy of Photographs," Here is New York is an exhibit of photos taken by amateurs and professionals alike, displayed anonymously in a room. Take a few moments and browse the gallery; the collection of images is beyond impressive, beyond words really. I am haunted by this image of a woman standing in her doorway.

Search terms on the site

Now that the search has been up for a little while, aren't you curious to know what the most popular terms are? Alas, they're not that interesting: "sex", "megway", and "jason" lead the pack. Sex? Have I ever talked about sex on this site? Probably not in the way the searchers were hoping -- megnut just isn't that kind of site, and I'm just not that kind of girl!

McSweeney's fun

From McSweeney's Warnings Affixed to Laboratory Doors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: If you accidentally flushed something up the condenser of the rotavap or some of your compound somehow sublimes on the condenser... Also includes the words "bump trap" and "unnecessary purification challenge."

Visiting the new Prada store

While in NYC, I also visited the new Prada store designed by Rem Koolhaus and I was very disappointed. I had decided that no matter what the price of the items, I would try something on, just to experience the dressing rooms with the "butt view" display screens. But there was nothing, and I mean nothing, that even looked cool to me. In Vegas I'd seen a beautiful little black dress at the Prada store at the Bellagio, so I thought maybe something like that would be ideal. But this store was filled with ridiculous, horrible, peasant-style blouses and $4,200 pants with fabric flowers attached to them. The only thing I tried on was a pair of black, fur-lined, snowboarding gloves, but that didn't necessitate a trip to the dressing room.

Oh, the space was cool and all that, but the vibe and the fashion was just too-too for me, as in "I'm too smart (and poor) to spend tootally too much money on this absurd clothing." It's a shame, I want to like Prada, I really do. But I don't. (Except some of the shoes, I do like some of the shoes.)

A useful TiVo feature

This would be a good TiVo feature: a warning asking you to confirm a channel change if you're watching live TV on delay. TiVo allows you to pause as you watch TV (like when you need to go to the bathroom and you're watching a football game, say the AFC Championship Game). If you pause enough, you sometimes get "behind" the actual live game. Now it's not the same as having it recorded, because it's only temporary and there's a buffer max (you can't get more than 30 minutes behind the "live" action). Unfortunately, if you change channels (like when the cat climbs on your lap, so you try and move him off of it and onto the sofa, whereby you accidentally place him on the remote control, and his enormous paw happens to hit the channel "up" button on the remote) while watching not-live TV, you lose whatever's in this buffer and there's no way to recover it.

TiVo should give you a warning along the lines of, "Hey! You know you're not watching live TV here. You're behind. Do you really want to change the channel? Because you can't get back to this point if you do, and that means you'll *miss* the Steeler's field goal attempt, which I think you might be interested in seeing, only because New England is going to block it and run it back for a touchdown. If you change the channel now (perhaps by accident), and even if you come back really really fast, you'll just jump ahead seven minutes to the current action. Oh, you'll see the score is 21-3, but you won't know why. Now, tell me the truth: Do you really want to change the channel?" Yeah, I think that would be a good TiVo feature.

Playing with the Blogger API

I whiped up a little interface to the Blogger API this evening that allows you to post to megnut there along the side (see where it says, "Experimenting"). It may or may not work, since it was working when I first started playing with it and now Blogger refuses to FTP the file to this server. Anyway, try it out. The goal here (as explained also on the posting page) is to allow megnut readers to share content. I could have/should have implemented comments but for a variety of reasons haven't done that yet. So this is my alternative.

Of course there are a couple of caveats: only five posts will ever appear at a time, and I reserve the right to delete anything that's inappropriate. Also, HTML won't work, but I'm not doing any client or server-side checking for it. It will just barf behind the scenes on the XML-RPC call and your post won't appear. Consider yourself warned. Aside from that, it should, in theory, work. Let me know what you think.

Update: It simply does not seem to be publishing to the site, though I'm setting the publish param to true. If you have any ideas as to why, I'd appreciate it. I'm giving up for tonight and going to bed. Perhaps it will fix itself tomorrow.

Still playing with the Blogger API

Praise be to Aaron who suggested I try 1 or 0 rather than true or false in my request and it works! (The Blogger docs say "true" but it's obviously false since that behavior was spotty and unpredictable.) Now we're cooking!! I wrote up how I did it in case you want to do it too.

Alas, the API is still not "publishing," it's only "posting." Many people have tried it out but it's only appearing along the right because I went into Blogger and manually published as I was setting up the archives. Yes, now there are archives to all this so you can catch up if you miss anything. Drat! I really wanted this to work. Now I feel all pouty!

It seems other folks have had similar experiences with their TiVos like I mentioned on Monday. I posted my suggestion to the TiVo forum; if you have a TiVo and would like to see a similar feature implemented, go voice your support.

Thirty years old

Meg's diaper pins

When I saw my parents in Vegas a few weeks ago, my mom gave me a wonderful present: silver engraved diaper pins, mine, which were actually used to secure my cloth diapers when I was a baby. By the date on one you can see that 30 years ago today I was born. 30 years seems like a long time, much longer than I feel I've been alive. But then when I think about it I seem to have so many years of memories, like how I remember seeing Grease and Star Wars in the theatres, and how I loved those days during the Blizzard of '77 when I had nothing to do but play in the snowdrifts in front of the house. And I can think back to the 80's, to Billy Joel's Glass Houses and Madonna's Borderline, to dissecting frogs in science class and horrible memories of seventh grade boys, to high school and a Spanish class trip to Mexico and the bus rides after soccer games singing Doug E. Fresh's La Di Da Di on the way home. Somehow so many of those memories seem fresher than the 90's, which lack distinction and blur into a haze of rowing and reading in college, then working and working and working.

What freaks me out the most is how clearly I remember nearly all this stuff. Five years ago? Seems as clear to me as last week. Heck, I remember what I did on certain weekends in 10th grade. That was 1986! And all the sudden, I'm 30. People keep telling me it's great, that it's better than one's 20's and all that. But I'm not feeling quite up to 30 yet, mostly because it seems so old and I feel so young.

Aren't people supposed to be married when they're 30? Aren't they supposed to have kids? Or a job? Or own a house? Aren't they supposed to be grown up? I don't feel grown up. I don't know, I think there's been a mistake somewhere along the way, an accounting error of sorts. I can't possibly be 30. There must be a typo on my diaper pins, surely I'm not a day over 25.

Yahoo! maps is a bit confused

I rely on Yahoo! Maps frequently and it's a very useful service, rarely if ever wrong. So I was really surprised today when I got a totally useless result. The address "Ord, San Francisco CA" yields driving directions to ORD, or Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in Illinois, 2142.8 miles away. But if I add "St" to the address, transforming the obscure (to Yahoo!) "Ord, San Francisco CA" address to "Ord St, San Francisco CA" I get the directions I'm looking for. Ord Street is only 2.7 miles away, a distance that's more achievable today in all this rain. Seems like there's a mistake in the "Get Directions" logic since I'm obviously not looking for driving directions to O'Hare. If I were, I'd have entered "Ord, Chicago IL." In this situation, the "San Francisco CA" part of the entry should be more heavily weighted than the "Ord." Or a simple "St" should be appended if necessary.

Speaking of Yahoo! Maps, they have one of my favorite disclaimers on the web, "When using any driving directions or map, it's a good idea to do a reality check..." Do a reality check? The incongruity of a formal disclaimer to the slangish expression "reality check" just makes me giggle. Good thing I confirmed my reality consisted of a desire to travel less than three miles in my own city, not travel half-way across the country, via car, to an airport.

Thanks to all who've written with birthday wishes, I appreciate it. You'll be happy to know I was treated to a delicious sushi dinner and am now not nearly as morose about turning 30 as I was pre-hamachi nigiri.

Today's the Big Day

Go Nebraska!

Today's the Big Day and I'm working very diligently so this afternoon I can head to a party to watch the game. If my dream from last night (I swear I'm not making this up) comes true, it should be a good game. I dreamt Nebraska was up 40-19 with 7:17 left in the 3rd quarter. Unfortunately my dream didn't carry the final score, but my hopes are high. GO HUSKERS!

Trains in Cali

I've always thought we could do with a high-speed rail system here in California, so imagine my joy when I found this on Nick's site: The California High Speed Rail Authority ("Moving Californians Into the Future"). Though they don't have a high speed rail to Vegas, or to Tahoe, it's a start. I hope it gets built, though it will be something like 20 years before it's done. Still...20 years is better than no years.

And while they're at it, they should do something to improve the current ride up to Tahoe. Here's an article about a great idea: taking the train up for the weekend to go skiing. Alas it takes six hour or seven hours, one way, and is over $100. Plus the trip is often delayed. But it sounds so pleasant. I'd be more inclined to head up there via train (if it took three hours and cost $50/rt). Maybe someday.

Search on megnut.com

I added a "search" to the site on the right there (yes, eons after everyone else has already done it. We don't make trends around here, we follow them, way way after the fact...) Anyway, I did it because I couldn't find content I knew I'd written, and Google wasn't any use. They don't seem to be indexing my archives and rather than figure out why (well I know why, but rather than change how I archive), I just added the easy-to-use and free Atomz search. Voila! Search away, my friends, search away.

Now that the Five Days of Huskers Mourning have passed, I'm ready to resume posting. Actually, I wasn't in mourning, and there's no five days of mourning or anything like that for the Huskers, like they used to have years ago when people were widowed (first mourning, etc.) I had a zillion deadlines (or two) which needed to be met and prevented me from focusing any energy on ye olde megnute.

Megnut Marketing and Telecommunications Bill

I would like to propose the "Megnut Marketing and Telecommunications Bill of 2002" for consideration by the United States Congress:

Section 1: It shall be illegal for telemarketers to call outside the hours of 9-5 local time for the number they are dialing, Monday through Friday. If they call outside the designated hours, they will be fined $1,000 for each violation, 50% of which goes to the victim.

Section 2: It shall be illegal for financial companies (like credit card companies) to label envelopes with formal-looking warnings like, "Requires Immediate Attention" or "Signature Required" when in actuality the envelop contains some stupid credit card offer and requires no attention at all on the part of the addressee. This section can be summed up: It shall be illegal to make junk mail look like real mail.

I'm sure this bill requires additional sections that escape me now, but this is a start.

Also, I'm going to start referring to ATM's as "automatic T machines" from now on. You should too.

The Christmas tree

We took down the Christmas tree today and I kept thinking, "we could keep it up a little longer. It still appears fresh, and it smells so good and looks so pretty." And then it dawned on me: I have the potential to turn into one of those crazy women that keep the Christmas tree up until July, or worse yet, all year. I'm sure it will happen gradually, first I'll keep it 'till the end of January, the next year, February. Then one Christmas, it will be August and I'll be watering the tree and turning on its lights. And probably feeding my fifty cats too, because I think I have that tendency as well...

Off to NYC

I'm off to NYC tomorrow for a few days of visiting with friends, some family, and some work-type folks. I'm looking forward to stretching my brain and seeing the sights, and I'm hoping for some snow while we're there as well. I'm going to try and update from the road, since it isn't as much a vacation as a relocation (albeit temporarily).

The Christmas tree

A thought occurred to me today as I closed a pop-up ad window and a new one sprung up behind it saying something like, "Don't close that window just yet" before I closed it too. Can you imagine if your TV, upon having its channel changed away from a commercial, went back to that same station, and the ad said something like, "don't go away just yet!" Rude beyond all belief, but that's what happens every day with this unwanted in the first place pop-ups that spawn generations of pop-up children.

Hello from NYC

So far so good here in NYC. The weather is cold, which I was looking forward to but have decided now that I was crazy to look forward to cold, and the gloves I've brought are not very warm. Snow is predicted for this evening, which I'm looking forward to (and I may later decide I was crazy to look forward to snow as well, especially if it really dumps 6".) Lots of neat sights seen and people talked to and a wonderful bed at a very nice hotel slept in, so two thumbs up. I have lots more to discuss but not now, not yet.

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