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Deneb's Journal
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Date:2007-09-13 21:15
Subject:Sysadmin, I note, was not anywhere on the list
Security:Public

So, for this truly breaking-out-all-over meme, I'll post just down to where my actual job appears on the list, at 22. However, my #1 is a very likely potential aspect of many jobs in my field, and one of my favorite parts.

Meme instructions:

1. Go to www.careercruising.com
2. Put in Username: nycareers - Password: landmark
3. Take the 'Career Matchmaker' questions at the upper left corner
4. Post the top 10 results.

I think I must have scored high on obsessive-compulsiveness...Collapse )

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Date:2007-03-05 19:25
Subject:Pink Foam in Search of a Name
Security:Public

After many years of delay, I'm finally beginning my first model train layout. In order to actually get started rather than overwhelmed, I scaled back my plans and expectations. I looked at my realistic space resources. I explored track plans from the internet, concentrating on ones that were made up of track pieces I already own, mostly. I realized that starting with a flat layout is ok, there's plenty to do even there. (Besides, it's geographically appropriate for my chosen setting.)

I'm using Kato unitrack, which works remarkably well despite being snap track. I'm hitting a middle ground between prototype realism and total fantasy. I'm modeling central New York state (say, Onandaga county or so) in the 1970s/1980s. Rural/small town area near the other great east-west lines of the Thruway and the Erie Canal. I will use trains, buildings, and other models appropriate to that place and time, but the town will be imaginary. Right now, I'm working on coming up with a name for a town that sounds like a small upstate town, but isn't the name of any real place. Lots of my rolling stock is Conrail, or Conrail's predecessor roads. I've got a great building kit that I'll be able to turn into a fabulous half-abandoned industrial building that's long past its prime. The main street of the town will look like it once had good times, but is now rather shabby. Yes, I'm reliving my childhood in 1:160 scale.

Actual work began with a trip to Home Depot (with much help from nathanw) to pick up a 3'x6' of plywood and extruded foam, which are my benchwork materials. I used Liquid Nails of the appropriate formulation to attach two layers of 1.5" foam to the plywood board. This gives me plenty of depth available for digging out streams or ponds later on. I used sculptamold to smooth the gap between pieces of foam, and globbed some water-based polyurethane around the edges of the plywood to keep it from shedding splinters so much.


Once all that dried, I gave the foam a base of "earth undercoat" paint. It doesn't adhere well. I'll need more paint than I had on me to really hide the pink. But it looks less like a pink lunar surface, and more like a normal wasteland. After that, I brought it upstairs to the office, where its table legs are two sturdy old computers. I've started to set down the track temporarily so I can think about where the structures will go and draw some outlines before glueing it down.





Let's see where this leads, eh?

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Date:2007-02-11 14:44
Subject:consumerism
Security:Public

I'm contemplating buying a digital camera. I would say "a new digital camera", but it's been so long since I bought my first one (and a while since I lost it, too), that it feels like the first time.

After contemplation (and one rave review from a co-worker), I am eyeing the Canon Powershot SD 700 IS. After research on dpreview.com, I feel torn between it and the Fuji Finepix F30. Almost entirely because of dpreview's comparison pictures, and the Fuji's notably low-noise high ISO results. I'm still leaning towards the Canon, since I like having more optical zoom, the capabilities in macro mode seem to be better, and IS sounds lovely for a shaky-handed person like myself who often likes to take pictures through the windows of moving vehicles.

At this point, I'm seeking personal experiences with either camera that might inform my decision. Anyone? If you have some other model you must recommend over both of those, I'm open to hearing about it. Know that my level of photogeekery is very low, and simple and small are two of my biggest considerations. Use of SD is good (which is a strike against the Fuji).

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Date:2006-11-15 00:00
Subject:temporarily nonable-bodied
Security:Public

So this weekend my back fought with piles of carpets at Building 19, and the carpets won. I started out just sore, and progressed by Monday to full-fledged impaired mobility. I can walk, but only in a slow, hobbling manner. On Monday, I discovered that if you walk slowly for no apparent reason, people will shove you and push you and do the body language equivalent of growling at you. So on Tuesday, I got out my cane.

I have this cane from the first time my back went wonky (almost six years ago? yikes), and I've always held onto it just in case. In addition to providing me with a visual cue that says "I'm not walking like this for no reason, people", it also gives me handhold to lean on when my back spasms. This prevents me from feeling like I'm about to fall over for a split-second, which therefore prevents me from gasping horribly, which scares people.

Commuting to work today with the cane was a real eye-opener. My findings, in short:
In the morning rush hour, the cane worked great. People refrained from pushing me, occasionally even stepped out of my way, and even said "excuse me". In the afternoon rush hour, it made no difference at all. People zoomed around me. It took three stops worth of travel before anyone offered me a seat on the T, even when I was wincing in pain every time the train jerked. It was especially good that someone offered me a seat at that point, because someone else had just shoved me aside with their arm in order to get at the handrail.

I have also have a whole new loathing for revolving doors. Ever tried to hobble and push a sticky revolving door at the same time? At least most (but not all!) revolving doors have a non-revolving door next to them.

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Date:2006-08-29 20:30
Subject:
Security:Public

I just dropped my master's project off at the print shop to be clad in the official red thesis binding.

I just finished grad school.

*falls over*

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Date:2006-01-25 20:16
Subject:Amazon has made me sad
Security:Public

Remember when "Usually ships within 24 hours" used to actually mean "will really very likely ship within 24 hours"? My past three or four amazon orders have all been composed of items with that tag, and none of them has shipped (shipped, not arrived!) in fewer than three business days. Since shipment started taking more time a few years back, this means that no amazon order ever arrives with that almost unnatural speed of yore.

I miss that.

Since my recent orders have all been academically motivated, this makes me double sad.

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Date:2006-01-01 17:28
Subject:What do you do with a silken tofu? (yay-ee-oo-de-lay-ee...)
Security:Public

I have one pound of silken tofu. I want to cause something interesting to happen by putting it in a mixer with some other things. Currently, I'm looking at some white wine vinegar, dash of olive oil, some mustard, and some cloves of garlic (a recipe I found online). But I thought I'd ask if anyone else has particular experiences with silken tofu to share.

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Date:2005-09-17 22:23
Subject:
Security:Public

It's that time again.

RP681 - Regional Planning Studio II (The Revenge of the Group Project)
RP645 - Growth Management (Wherein we decide whether or not to be rabid New Urbanists)
RP691E - People and the Environment (Because I didn't have enough 691X classes on my transcript already - what's with that?)
CEE695A - Transportation Seminar (All hail the weekly lecture series class format)

My studio project (for which I have a really good team - I am very relieved) involves updating the Open Space & Recreation Plan for the town of Hadley, MA. Yes, Hadley. As in, "Hadley downloaded a virus from the Internet. Hadley" in those old commercials (Well, not really). As in route 9 and the massive commercial strip. As in cows cows cows everywhere else. As in major SJC decision involving phased growth bylaws last year. The so-called asparagus capital of the world. I'm tickled pink. I think Hadley is a fascinating puzzle of a town.

Almost all available daytime hours not spent in class are spent at my internship in the Town of Amherst Planning Department. A fascinating side benefit of this job is that I get advance details of any restaurant planning to open up in town, when they come by for their ZBA special permit. Do you have any idea what "Scandinavian fast food" might be? I don't. But we might have some sometime soon.

Speaking of Valley food, have all my Valley expat friends heard that Pinnochio's had a bad fire and is closed for the indefinite future? Also, my first impressions of the brand new "Crazy Noodles" (must be uttered in best these-prices-are-insane! tv ad voice) on Main Street are good. My bowl of pad thai was decently tasty (although relatively low on salt and oil), and the size of my head. And now I can get Thai iced coffee and iced tea downtown. Danger, Will Robinson.

I am much less sanity-challenged than last September. Much. I'm getting the hang of this school thing, more or less.

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Date:2005-05-19 19:37
Subject:The post I never thought I'd make
Security:Public

I've made my largest purchase of my entire life, overcome 11 years of being absolutely terrified, and acquired a very large dependant.Collapse )

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Date:2005-04-24 20:07
Subject:Progress
Security:Public

I just put gas in a car for the very first time, ever. I am irrationally proud.

This weekend has been step 1 in my quest to re-learn to drive, after an 11 year hiatus, since our local bus service stops during the summer months. I rented a car on Saturday morning, and did some driving around town both today and yesterday. Altogether, about 100 miles, including one highway on-ramp (the scariest thing of all, as far as I'm concerned).

It has been entirely not awful. It's still not easy, and I still was scared spitless on the highway on-ramp, but I made it.

Step 2, sometime in the next few weeks: Buy a car. Get insurance. Ye gods. I can't believe I'm doing this. I'm not sure if I'm more afraid of never getting any better, and being terrified of driving forever, or actually getting used to it, and becoming One Of Them. Being a non-driver has been such a big part of my life for so long now.

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Date:2005-01-30 19:39
Subject:Grad Student Metamorphosis, Stage 2
Security:Public

Although I already think I may be insane for doing so, I'm going to attempt four classes this semester, even though one of them is a studio:


  • CE-ENGIN 510: Public Transportation Systems

  • REGIONPL 643: Economic Development Issues in Planning...

    ...or Social and Economic Policy Analysis. Depending on which part of the computer you ask. Personally, I'm calling it "Superquant".

  • REGIONPL 675: Regional Planning Studio I

  • REGIONPL 691E: Geographic Information Systems



The last three are things I really can't wiggle out of, but how could I possibly not take Public Transportation Systems? It isn't offered very often, and I just can't miss it. Not taking that class would negate my entire purpose in going to grad school in the first place, in a way. It all started with the trains. I must follow the trains. But Studio is a monster of a class, and even an extra credit hour. It's a sort of professional practicum. We'll be doing actual contracted projects for towns across Massachusetts. I've been assigned to a group working with the town of Gill, to help determine what they should do with a 12 acre plot of land that the town has acquired.

Speaking of trains, Nathan was kind enough to take me to the annual Railroad Hobby Show at the Big E grounds. I bought a few books (some of which would have come in very handy during my history class last semester), gawked at some amazing layouts, and Nathan graciously failed to die of boredom.

I have high hopes for this semester. The first week of classes went by without any nervous breakdown on my part. The living room is much cleaner and has a couch in it. The days will be getting longer, rather than shorter. All of my professors seem very good. Most of these classes are more about math and computers, which are stronger areas for me than paper-writing. I got a new assistantship, which is already going well, even if it is as amorphous as the last one. And I've started to get used to living here, even if I still pine for Cambridge.

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Date:2004-10-01 22:01
Subject:My First Conference in my New Life (tm)
Security:Public

I am so entranced with this website that I feel the need to share:

http://www.epodunk.com/

It crunches census and other data up, down, and sideways, producing community profiles for places of all sizes, and many deeply interesting or entertaining rankings. Which state has the most mobile homes? How many people take public transportation to work in Honolulu? What are the top ten college towns, or the top ten places to be a 55-year-old lesbian? I could pore over this site for days.

I picked it up at the APA New England Planning Conference in Springfield today, which I attended on the cheap as a student volunteer (Here's your name tag, sir!). Ah, the grad school life.

Most serendipitous and bizarre moment: One presenter, a Connecticut planner, was talking about how much he loves the Google images search engine. As an aside, he said that he had used it to try to look for a picture of a particular McDonald's restaurant, but failed. "Does anyone happen to have any pictures of the McDonald's in Lewiston, New York?" I just about fell off my chair. I told him it was my hometown, we swapped email addresses, and I promised to find him some pictures. At the very least, I can probably ask my parents to take some, and perhaps even bring them when they visit me next weekend.

And now, I'm going to pass out, because I woke up at five this morning in order to get to Springfield in time for my volunteer shift.

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Date:2004-09-26 13:14
Subject:Metamorphosis
Security:Public

Although the dust continues to settle, I have become a grad student. I've had a few weeks of classes now, dropped one of them under the realization of the staggering workload, and I'm almost able to picture getting the hang of things. Deciding to drop a class was a scary and desperate decision. It will take me longer to finish my program now, but I truly felt like I wouldn't have made it a month otherwise. My study skills are rusty to nonexistent, my reading speed is molasses and all four classes involved intensive reading and writing. It's better to go a bit slower than to crash and burn so soon. I'm going to worry about the logistics of this "taking longer" later. And if you know me, you know that convincing myself to not worry about something now is hugely difficult.

That said, I'm still worried about burning. A question to any current or former students: How do you handle the fact that there's always much more to be done? I'm falling into the pattern I remember from my undergraduate years where I either feel guilty during any non-homework activity, or I throw myself into denial and avoid my work a bit too much.

I also have a life outside of school, and right now it consists of continuing to set up my great little house with Nathan. I really enjoy that, and I wish I could concentrate on it without feeling like I shouldn't be. I want to enjoy living in this beautiful area, without being awash with anxiety constantly about my schoolwork. Anxiety saps the pleasure out of all the best and simplest things, including eating and sleeping. The situation has improved over the month, so I can only hope that it continues to do so.

I learned one thing as an undergrad. If someone asks me if I have time to volunteer to run a restaurant? I'll say NO.

My classes, when I take a breath and notice, are interesting and the readings are fascinating. I'm still plagued with doubts that I'll be able to do the "real work", as we get further into the semester and into projects. Several second-year students have assured me that everyone feels this way.

My classes, by the way:


  • RP651 Planning History and Theory

  • RP656 Judicial Planning Law

  • RP693S Planning for Multiple Publics


I also have a research assistantship which is very much like an additional class. I'm helping a professor research a book about the economic development of New England mill towns.

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Date:2004-07-09 20:41
Subject:
Security:Public

I've given notice at work, which makes my new life direction both finalized and public.

I'm jumping off the cliff, and going back to school. I'll be starting in September at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in the Masters of Regional Planning program.

I very much want to see people before I leave town. I'll try to arrange social gatherings both spontaneously and in advance. Locals, let me know if you have thoughts on this! I'll have even more free time after August 6th, which is my last day at work.

I'll be moving sometime around September 1st, everyone's favorite moving day. I'm looking for advice about moving truck rentals. Specifically, how is Budget? I have fairly clear impressions of U-Haul and Penske. If any of my Valley or ex-Valley friends have advice about apartment hunting, that would be wonderful as well.

Yes, I'm very excited. I'm also worried about moving, of course, since moving always worries me. But that doesn't take away from how great I think this is going to be.

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Date:2004-04-27 17:28
Subject:"When I was driving once I saw this painted on a bridge..."
Security:Public

So, as some of you may know, the rail (now bike trail) bridge over the Connecticut River between Hadley and Northampton, Massachusetts, does actually have "I don't want the world. I just want your half." painted on it. A little part of me likes to believe that the bridge actually came first, and was the inspiration for the lyric, although I'm sure this is unlikely. Even if the causation is the other way, it's still fun to see, and I got to see it again this past weekend.

I was further amused to note that the bridge also now bears "All your base are belong to us" in much the same manner.

In our hearts, I'm sure the TMBG reference will outlive it.

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Date:2004-02-23 23:01
Subject:This is a worthy meme
Security:Public

iTunes, full library, random, first 15 songs:

The Collection Of Marie Claire        Daniel Lanois         For The Beauty Of Wynona
Deadbeat Club                                B-52's                   Cosmic Thing
The Cheescake Truck                      King Missile           Mystical Shit
My Fathers Eyes                             Eric Clapton    
Near Wild Heaven                          R.E.M.                   Out Of Time
Last Night Of The World                Bruce Cockburn      Anything Anytime Anywhere
Come Home                                   James                     Fleadh - Ten Years Of Rock
Every Time We Say Goodbye          Annie Lennox        Prelude To A Kiss Soundtrack
First Cool Hive                              Moby                     Everything Is Wrong
Eyes Without A Face                      Billy Idol
Beddy-Bye, Beddy Bye
   Over Grand-Ma's Bridge              Gong Li                    Shanghai Triad Soundtrack
El Condor Pasa (If I Could)            Simon & Garfunkel    Greatest Hits
Fall At Your Feet                           Jennifer Kimball        Veering From The Wave
Life In A Northern Town               Dream Academy
We Do What We're Told
   (Milgram's 37)                           Peter Gabriel              So

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Date:2003-07-29 21:27
Subject:New housemate
Security:Public

There's a lovely new addition to my home today.

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