Sunday, October 24, 2004

Book sale virgin

My friend Irene wanted to buy some childrens book for her niece. So, I suggested last month that she get them from the annual public library sales at nominal cost. In particular, that she might be interest in the one given by the library that I go to frequently. Since I've done this every year there, I know the layout and the organization of the books. With the benefit of experience, I briefed her this morning before leaving on the tactics involved. I figured that since her primary interest is childrens books, I'd just point her in that direction while I go off on my usual route. Fifteen minutes later, after I was done, I found her only half way though the childrens section. As I met up with her, she started describing the book she was holding at the time. Realizing what was happening, I told her that she had been using up valuable time perusing, that this is not a Barnes and Nobles experience, that she need to make a select or reject decision of a book within 30 seconds, erroring on selection. Otherwise, she would have no hope of going though them all. Besides, there were just too many people around to do what she was doing comfortably.

In the end, she got what she wanted. We even went to another libary sale nearby. However, after two hours of this, she was burnt out from the experience. But, I'm sure that by this time next year, she'll be an old pro.

Cognitive Dissonance

I wasn't surprised when I read about this. After all, we all have a tendency to believe what we want to believe:
Divide seen in voter knowledge
By Alan Wirzbicki, Globe Correspondent | October 22, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Supporters of President Bush are less knowledgeable about the president's foreign policy positions and are more likely to be mistaken about factual issues in world affairs than voters who back John F. Kerry, a survey released yesterday indicated.

A large majority of self-identified Bush voters polled believe Saddam Hussein provided "substantial support" to Al Qaeda, and 47 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the US invasion. Among the president's supporters, 57 percent queried think international public opinion favors Bush's reelection, and 51 percent believe that most Islamic countries support "US-led efforts to fight terrorism."

No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, the Sept. 11 Commission found no evidence of substantial Iraqi support for Al Qaeda, and international public opinion polls have shown widespread opposition to Bush's reelection.

In contrast, among Kerry supporters polled only 26 percent think Iraq had such weapons, 30 percent say Iraq was linked to Al Qaeda, and 1 percent said foreign public opinion favors Bush.

The polls results, said Steven Kull, the head of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which conducted the survey, showed that Americans are so polarized two weeks before the election that many lack even a common understanding of the facts.


Observatory Night

I'm normally very punctual when attending events. But tonight I decided to be just on time:
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge sponsors free programs for the general public on the third Thursday of every month throughout the year. The "Observatory Nights" feature a nontechnical lecture and telescopic observing from the observatory roof if weather permits. The lectures are intended for high school age and older audiences but children are also welcome. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 7:30 pm and programs begin at 8:00 pm. Parking is available.
I figured, how popular can A Stroll Through The Sun's Neighborhood be, especially on such an overcast night. I should have gotten a clue when I arrived at 7:55pm to a practically full parking lot. The disappointment, to be turned away even before I got to the door because the Auditorium was already full. Well, this won't happen again next time.

Eyes glazed over

It was quite a difference experience with tonight's Boston Linux and Unix user group meeting. I was really looking forward to hearing from Jim Gettys, one of the original designers of X Window:
The X Window System, Version 11, is the standard window system on Linux and UNIX systems. X11, designed in 1987, was state of the art at that time. From its inception, X has been a network transparent window system in which X client applications can run on any machine in a network using an X server running on any display. While there have been some significant extensions to X over its history (e.g. OpenGL support), X's design lay fallow over much of the 1990's. With the increasing interest in open source systems, it was no longer sufficient for modern applications and a significant overhaul is now well underway.
After an hour trying to follow the presentation, my eyes glazed over how technical the information was. My personal discomfort won over the wish to be polite. I left.

Soft side of Process Improvement

The topic of tonight's SPIN meeting was Saying No: How to Say No to Power, a presentation by Rick Brenner. As a subscriber and reader of his weekly newsletter Point Lookout, I knew it would be worthwhile. And what made the meeting even more enjoyable was seeing Johanna Rothman again as she facilitated the Hiring Initiative Forum - Interviewing Skills from the Employer's Perspective - How to gauge how well someone will function if you hire them.

Only in my dreams

And it was, only a dream. In it, we were fellow travellers and met as strangers. There was an instant mutual attraction. Thoughout the whole interaction, not a word was spoken. And suddenly, she was in my embrace. Then I woke up. But I still felt the sensation of her fingers between mine. Too late, I'm back in this world.

Lilith Fair, Vol. 2

Lilith Fair, Vol. 2Normally, I go in sequence. The reason for Volume 2 before Volume 1 this time is due to one song on the album, Sway. Sway by Bic Runga was the song sung by Carrie Niziolek of the Resonance, an a cappella group during the Greater Boston Invitational Songfest at MIT recently. I was so enchanted by her performance that it piqued my interest to hear it sung by the original artist. In ther version her, I was surprise at how different they sounded. If I hadn't paid attention, I would think they were two different songs. I'm now even more curious to hear the original version. As for the other songs on this album, they were a nice and varied mix. I like them all except for the one by Queen Latifah.
1 Fire on Babylon Sinead OConnor 7:28
2 Never Know Angelique Kidjo 4:51

3 Life Queen Latifah 5:27
4 Island Heather Nova 5:09
5 New Thing Now Shawn Colvin 3:45
6 Angel Sarah McLachlan ... 5:58
7 Down by the Sea Morcheeba 5:19
8 I Do Lisa Loeb 3:44
9 Sway Bic Runga 3:14
10 In the Ghetto Natalie Merchant 4:12
11 Miles from Our Home Cowboy Junkies 4:19
12 Meathook Tracy Bonham 3:13
13 Elmo Holly McNarland 5:41
14 Trampoline Wild Strawberries 3:52