Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Clearly, Everyone is NOT New Hampshire

Oh those crazy Presidential Primaries! And let's not forget the even crazier political parties!!

It's become a pissing contest of the highest proportion.

The states are jockeying for earlier primaries and the national committees are threatening to only allow half of their delegates to the national convention if they move their primaries ahead of the February 5th golden starting line. So the state's are flexing their electoral college muscles and swing state value, calling the threats empty.

Florida is even using double negatives!!!

“I am confident that the Republican National Committee or any eventual nominee will not allow the voices of Florida voters not to be heard,” he said. “Florida is too important a state as it relates electing to the next president.”

Oh, WHATEVER. Your Governor's brother can't run again. Everyone KNOWS Gore won the 2000 election and that your citizens are incapable of using the simplest of balloting systems.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire has maturely accepted the fact that they may be penalized for following their constitutional amendment that requires them to have the first presidential primary in the nation. The Democratic party has made an exception for NH and SC recognizing that they historically have early primaries while the Republican party appears to be incapable of making exceptions for special circumstances. How very Neoconservative AND Christian of them!


No one seems to have figured out that all this jockeying for early primaries is going to give the later primaries more power.


With so many early primaries, there won't be a clear winner until the later primaries hit.

Think about it.

With so many primaries to focus on candidates are cherry picking the states they'll concentrate on. Many candidates are choosing not to even participate in all the state primaries.

In a normal primary season, the candidates run all out in the early primaries and several have dropped out by the time Super Tuesday comes around. With the field culled, candidates running low on funds, the leader(s) have effectively been chosen by the late primaries.

Now with all the early primaries and candidates selecting where they are (in effect) running, there could be several "leaders" coming out of Not-so-Super Tuesday and it will be up to the final primaries and those states will have the honor of hosting the BIG primaries that decide the elections. If we don't have too many media relayed self destructions, we could actually go into conventions without the candidates chosen.

In that case, Michigan and Florida could be very right. The importance of their delegates will depend on who the party leadership wants to get the nomination and who holds their delegates.

But let's hope not. I really hate it when Florida is right.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What makes me happy...

Have I mentioned that I grow orchids? It's one of those eccentric hobbies that seem to be the providence of solitary men with truly odd personalities like James Jesus Angleton, the legendary counter intelligence agent in the early days of the CIA, codename, MOTHER.

I cannot claim to be that odd or paranoid, but perhaps it is because I am drawn in by the beauty of the flower and not the intrinsic challenge of it, that makes me different from other orchid enthusiasts. I was, after all, drawn into the world of orchid growing by two individuals, or perhaps, entities, that were positive influences in my life during some of the worst years of my life. One was my therapist ~ who could possibly fall into the eccentric orchid grower whose interest involves the challenge ~ and the other was a local orchid grower who had nine greenhouses full of orchids and supplied the local botanical garden with a conservatory wing full of orchids. Between the two of them I received an education on phalaenopses and dendrobiums and other more exotic plants ~ the whys and hows of the spiking; the sizes of the blooms; the ways in which the orchids evolve within their surroundings; the fact that orchids are not the fussy, needy plants we are led to believe ~ in fact, benign neglect can sometimes be the best care. Many people kill them with too much attention.

Today I found this photo, from the Kew Gardens Orchid Festival. It's a hybrid of Baldan's Kaleidoscope, my favorite phal. Another orchid grower once told me that redheads have an affinity for Baldan's and vice verse ~ a rather interesting thought. I have no idea.

Yes definitely a bird, looking for an orchid with feathers now...

But when one of my orchids spikes and blooms with these amazing flowers. That's what makes me happy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Those Low Grades in College May Haunt Your Job Search

A young applicant’s G.P.A. is the best single predictor of job performance in the first few years of employment.

This is from an article published in the New York Times on December 31, 2006. [see link above]

Oddly not, April 1, 2007.

As I approach my 15 year college reunion, let me offer a few random thoughts on this...




In the last fifteen years I don't remember ANYONE asking about my college GPA. I think graduate school may have wanted the transcript, but that was it. And you know honestly, the fact the I GRADUATED from such an ACADEMICALLY CHALLENGING college was more than enough.

Here's the real truth: Once you get a graduate degree, no one even wants to see your undergraduate transcript. They just want to see proof of your highest degree.

Now if I were a bit less honest and didn't believe that with complete certainty that I would get caught, I would take advantage of this and make my undergraduate years a bit more interesting... I'm sure four years in Palo Alto would have been more fun than the four I spent in Baltimore (seriously, who gets mugged in Palo Alto???), but I'm just not going to go there. (And seriously, who would actually question it? Like I've ever interviewed with an actual Stanford graduate???? Like I've ever even interviewed with a Hopkins grad??? PLEASE!)

But this is what I love about the article. The guy who is the great authority on GPA predicting job performance hires for such industry giants as the Home Shopping Network, Ticketmaster and!!! Remind me again, are those Fortune 100 or Fortune 500? And they employ highly skilled, really intelligent individuals to do things like.... okay, I'm drawing a blank on the very important services they provide without which our nation would crumble... Right, over priced tickets, sub quality products for shut-ins and shopaholics with credit cards, TVs and telephones and, of course, dating opportunities for computer geeks, potential stalkers and xenophobes (present company included ~ xenophobe, if you must know). What would we do without them?

Meanwhile, those Fortune 500 companies will probably continue hiring using the tried and true standards they've used for centuries. Nepotism never hurt, even Jane Austen recognized that one. And a perfect GPA from some crappy college isn't going to even get you in the door, honey, because the big boys choose who to recruit. They go directly to the schools from which they want their staff to come.

Why do you think you hear about students at Brown protesting the CIA recruiters on campus but you never hear about students at West Podunk Community College doing the same? Is it because the students at WPCC are less organized, liberal and politically aware? Quite possibly. But more likely, it's because the CIA isn't recruiting at WPCC since, among other reasons, they don't have a programs in applied mathematics (or as the cool kids call it "apple math") or advances languages.

And as far as the ridiculous [RIDICULOUS] notion that there is some correlation between intelligence and GPA ~ first let me suggest that everyone involved in this article had excellent GPAs but could never quite test their way into MENSA ~ now that my juvenile jibing has satisfied, wait, who am I kidding? These people are frickin' morons!!!

Albert Einstein failed math. Kurt Vonnegut failed college English. Obliviously these grades reflect their lack of intellect. Get over yourselves! Once you're too old for your parents to post your report card on the fridge, it no longer matters.

"Truth #147: No one really cares about your GPA."

I had that postcard posted on my door throughout most of college. While my roommate attended offices hours, had TAs and professors read drafts of papers, kissed asses and collected copies of other students' notes all in a grand effort to make sure her B+ or A- would be an A, I quietly lost respect for her. In my land of ultra-integrity, she had crossed the line of "earning" those grades. In fact, she was taking up vital resources (the time and energy of the TAs and professors, the goodwill of other students) that should have be allocated to students who were really struggling with the course material, not that the culture of the university would ever allow someone to make that admission ~ the shame would be far too great.

So, in my mind, the great GPAs began to take on a completely different meaning. Not one of the student who has superior understanding, does superior work and shows superior skill, but of the student who works the system, kisses the asses and plays the game. None of those things were worthy of reward in my mind. They demonstrated a lack of character, an almost sociopathic narcissism. And those few people who did receive their GPA based on superior skills and work were completely lacking in social skills or the ability to interact with other people, mostly since they had spent the past four years in the underground library to compete against the students who were working the system.

Any way you look at it you lose.

Let's return then to reality. We'll all admit something to ourselves and to God ~ I never did want to work for Ticketmaster, the Home Shopping Network or And as my uncle Billy (who graduated last in his electrical engineering program at Cornell, and who I should mention has made a killing in the stock market,) once told me, the guy with the highest GPA and the guy with the lowest GPA walk away with the exact same diploma. (This is best NOT to consider when selecting a physician...)


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How I know, with almost absolute certainty, the we're not living in The Sims

So there's some philosopher at Oxford that has posited, perhaps for the sake of argument, that our entire world could be just a simulation under the control of a single individual playing a game. And there are others, who perhaps having seen the Matrix movies (Matrices, anyone?) too many time, think it is possible that the world down the rabbit hole is the real one.

Here's how I know that the real world is actually real.

There was a time when I had a bit of a Sims obsession. I still plan to return to it once my desktop computer is up and running, because it is a rather fun obsession.

Anyway, to get back on point, this is not so much about the Sims as it is about people who play the Sims.

If you've ever spent much time on the forums, you'll find there are a few different types of players.

There are those that play to decorate and beautify the world. They create new architectural features, furniture, landscapes, clothing, houses, objects, skin/makeup/hair. They are artists and they look to perfect the world in which their Sims inhabit. Many don't even play the game, they create dream worlds.

Others perverse the game. I don't mean this as a judgement call. They interbreed to create alien races. They create the least human-like Sims they can and make a society a new creatures.

Then there are the code writers who try to advance the game. They create objects with special powers ~ coffee that allows individuals to no longer need sleep, toys that potty train toddlers or puppies, books that give faster skill points, paintings that make friends, plants that care for themselves, new careers, telescopes that prevent or guarantee alien abductions...

And last, but certainly not least, there are the pranksters. And let's be honest, a large proportion of them work for Maxis. When I first got Sims2, I remember getting the option to "stare at the sky" when I click outside with one of my Sims and wondered why on earth I would want to do that. A few days later when reading in one of the forums, I found out why. Once in a while when you have a Sim "stare at the sky", a satellite drops out of the sky and kills him/her. Maxis thinks of everything! And the Sims has always been filled with such goodies!

Where else does Death actually show up to collect and individual, sometimes stopping to use the bathroom or help himself to a cup of espresso or to listen to a loved one plead for the life of the recently deceased? Want to play chess with Death? It happens. Have an ex you want to torment? Just put him or her in the game and have at it. I have yet to meet a prankster who hasn't pulled the disappearing diving board and stairs pool trick. No Sim can resist a swim, then you pause the game and remove the escape route and, voila, drowning Sim. And after Death leaves, you can sell their ashes for cash, or let them haunt your remaining Sims for continued entertainment.

I once starved a police officer in one of my Sim homes because I couldn't find another way to get him to leave. He was just stuck. The rest of the family went about their regular activities and he just hung out. Since it wasn't his house, he couldn't actually do any cooking, so he died of benign neglect. I had hoped when he got hungry enough he would go home. That didn't stop me from selling his urn. The family was a little strapped for cash with the new baby.

I've heard of player creating 'death rooms' for getting rid of the more irritating nannies, people creating entire haunted towns.

And Sims is very much unlike real life ~ you rarely get pregnant if you're not trying, teens can't even have sex, and at least someone always knows how strongly each individual feels about one another.

So, until ladders start mysteriously disappearing from pools, books make people more athletic, men start giving birth to alien babies, unwanted pregnancies dissipate and teen pregnancies disappear altogether (and my ex-boyfriend gets killed by a falling satellite), I'm going to stick with my assertion that we're not living in The Sims!

Friday, August 03, 2007

BIG Bodies of Water

It's strange having grown up on the East Coast. You believe you know what it's like to live near a large body of water. It's the Atlantic Ocean for god's sake. It's huge! The gravitational force of another planet actually controls it's tides, huge.

You actually believe that living near this body of water is a vital part of your existence. You can't imagine not living on a coast. It's like the distance from the great tides somehow affects you.

You live with a constant calculation of distance to the water. Under two hours is acceptable. Anything more, questionable.

But it's not like you're planning an escape. Like there's a submarine off shore.

It's just a strange superstition you developed because you grew up in a county with a coast.

And well, the West Coast, it just completely messes with your sense of direction. The water shouldn't be to the West. When you're traveling North the water should be to the right, South to the left, otherwise you're just lost.


Then somehow you wind up in the center of the country. No oceans.

That's when you meet the big bodies of water of American myth and legend ~ the Great Mississippi, the Mighty Colorado - true waterways, unlike the Connecticut or the James. While the other water powers hurricanes and Nor'easters, these are of the waters of floods and droughts. They bisect the country, the continental divide. Other rivers run East and West of them, literally.

But it's not until they swallow people up that you remember how mighty they actually are. Somehow the fact they you don't need a 747 to cross them diminishes their danger. Don't be fooled.

We thought we could tame them. With damns and canals and such. Silly us. We are the Sigfried and Roy to the river's Bengal tiger; it plays along when it feels like it, but when push comes to shove, it will go for the jugular every time.

I lived here for over a year before realizing that Lake Travis, Town Lake were all the Colorado River. I mean, I knew they weren't actual lakes, I just didn't know it was the Colorado.

I cross that river every day. Twice in fact. Until the bridge in Minnesota collapsed, it didn't even occur to me how amazing that is.

So how does my former self survive thoousands of miles from the Atlantic? I go back and stick my feet in every year. But I don't think it matters so much when you really don't like the beach.