Archive for the ‘rants’ Category


20 August 2012

I spend a lot of time on Twitter, mostly reading what science teachers and science-y people have to say. A few days ago Jennifer Ouelette (@JenLucPiquant on Twitter) linked to a post about things happening in the atheist/skeptic community, which I am not a part of and don’t follow. I read it anyway, and I got really annoyed. Not only are some people jerks and trolls on the internet behind the safety of a pseudonym, but there are apparently also a**holes in real life as well. For no good reason, a woman known as Surly Amy was harassed at a conference and some people actually went so far as to try to harm her business.

The issue? Apparently sexual harassment occurs at conferences and women who speak up about it deserve to be harassed even more.


I immediately went to Surly Amy’s Etsy store and bought a necklace.

In case you can’t read it, it says “LEARN Something New Every Day.” which of course is one of my major ways I try to live my life.

I also wrote Surly Amy a note of support in the “message to seller” that you can write in when you buy things through Etsy, so she would know why I decided to buy this necklace. So, now I think you should check out Surly-Ramics here and on Etsy and maybe buy something for the science nerd/gamer/atheist/skeptic/Unitarian Universalist (yes, she does chalice jewelry!) in your life! Great gifts at a decent price! Also, you can follow Amy on Twitter (@SurlyAmy) and read her blog posts.


Learning while listening Part 1

29 May 2010

I am a long-time NPR listener.  I’ve been listening since 1989, or thereabouts.  I was hooked in college.  I love Morning Edition (and I still miss Bob Edwards) and All Things Considered.  On the weekends I used to fret every time I missed Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.  I was annoyed that This American Life was always on after I went to bed or during church, as is the case with On The Media.  I have learned a lot from Marketplace and Car Talk.  I’ve had plenty of those “driveway moments” when I have to stay in the car and listen to the end of a compelling story.  One of those moments prompted me to purchase a cassette tape of the story: Remorse: the 14 Stories of Eric Morse.  It came on a tape paired with Ghetto Life 101 on the other side.  These two stories are from 1993 and 1994, so if you missed them I highly recommend them (click the links to get to the websites where you can listen).

In the past couple of years I discovered RadioLab, and my husband introduced me to Planet Money.  My favorite RadioLab so far has an interview with Brian Greene, famous from his books The Elegant Universe (available also as a NOVA DVD) and The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality.  My favorite Planet Money…well, I have several.

The thing is, I discovered RadioLab not on the radio, but as a podcast.  (Mom, you know what podcasts are, right?)  And Planet Money IS a podcast.  It is only occasionally actually on the radio, and when it is it is embedded in another show, either in This American Life which is where Planet Money originated, or in All Things Considered.  Through podcasts, I can also listen to This American Life and On the Media and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me whenever I want to, and not just when they are broadcast on my local NPR station (which yes, I do still pledge to).

Anyway, the point of all this is actually so I can talk about Planet Money, which I think you should listen to.  Planet Money has two podcasts per week, available on iTunes or you can listen at their blog site.  They investigate all sorts of issues related to economics and finance, making a point of making the economic news clear and understandable for people who have never studied this stuff.  They translate the lingo and use simple examples to explain complex issues, such as using a $100 dollhouse to explain toxic assets.  Then the Planet Money team, all the people involved in making the show, put together $1000 of their own money to buy a real toxic asset, and you can follow it’s “death” on their blog site.

It helps, in my opinion, that they have really smart people on the Planet Money team.  One (the son of a college roommate of a friend of mine’s father), has a PhD in Physics from Harvard.  All are seasoned journalists who believe in delivering the truth to the public.  They explore a wide variety of economic topics, including copyright protection; the economy of Haiti; creating, marketing, and selling a great t-shirt; and how hedge funds such as Magnetar and Goldman-Sachs bet against their clients’ investments in mortgage-backed securities and profited hugely while their clients lost large sums of money.

That whole Goldman-Sachs thing was ridiculous.  It makes me wonder if any of these hedge-fund managers have a conscience.  I was glad to understand what was going on, but depressed by how horrible these people were to their own clients, fellow human beings.  I don’t consider myself a Christian, but there are a number of things Jesus said to do that I try to do in my life, like loving my neighbor.  I kindof think Jesus would have overturned the tables on Goldman-Sachs like he did to the moneylenders in the Temple, if only he had the opportunity.  And while Jesus said we should forgive, I find it very hard to forgive people who deliberately set out to screw the people who have hired them to manage their money well.

Anyway.  The point is, you should listen to Planet Money.  I like to download the podcast and listen while I am busy doing something else, like driving someplace, walking, cleaning up, washing dishes, etc.  Give it a listen, and tell me what you think!


3 February 2010

Dummy…that would be me.

I did one of those things that you aren’t supposed to do in physics, which is drop a kilogram on your foot from the lab table.  It is the argument for why you should never wear open-toed shoes in physics lab.  Which doesn’t really make sense unless your concern is really to avoid spraying blood all over, since most shoes won’t actually protect you from injury:

I think I may have a broken toe.  Though I am intrigued by the unusual green color on the toenail on the “second little piggy,” I am also excited by the deep purple of the “third little piggy’s” bruise.

Aren’t you glad you read my blog?  You totally needed to see that photo.

My students were very excited to see me hop up and down and yell.  Quite the diversion.  Sigh.  I had actually taped the kilogram onto a WHEELED cart.  Then set it down on the table in an orientation that allowed it to roll right off the table onto my foot.  Aaarrgh!

Hell for hypochondriacs

27 October 2009

H1N1About five times a day, I am convinced I am finally coming down with the “swine flu.”  That’s it, on the right.  The symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.  I cough several times a day.  I have post-nasal drip, which sometimes results in a sore throat.  I get chilled easily.  I am often fatigued.  I get headaches.  Different parts of my body ache at various times.  Happily, I rarely feel fevered.

There were five students absent from class first period today.  There were six absent from third period.  Third period already had one confirmed (i.e. actually tested) case, and one student has now been out for seven days.

For the first time ever, I am keeping a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer on my classroom desk.  Teacher desks are some of the most microbially-rich workplace surfaces anywhere. I make sure the tissue box in the classroom is NOT on the teacher desk.

Yesterday I sent a kid to the nurse’s office at the beginning of sixth period.  He never returned, and was absent today.

We had Physics Olympics last weekend, and we were supposed to have a coaches’ meeting tonight.  But we had to postpone it because too many of the coaches were sick.

I’m STILL not sick yet.  But if I catch myself convinced for the 6th or 7th time in a day that I am finally coming down with it, I think I probably forgot to take my anxiety meds that morning.  This pandemic is hell on hypochondriacs like me.  The anticipation is killing me!

“Angry Blog Post”

29 September 2009


I was driving home after a long, boring, mandatory meeting, and for some reason I was getting more and more tense.  I don’t know why.  I know I was getting a pain right over my right eyeball, the car behind me playing loud bass was LOUD, and I was heading toward homemade macaroni and cheese that I was going to make myself, despite the lateness of the hour.  I love macaroni and cheese, it is my ultimate comfort food, and I make it just the way I like it, of course.

I opened the door to find my wonderful husband waiting for me on the sofa, reading a biography of President Truman.  He said to me

“We have no gas.”

Let me take you back to July.  Late July.  We had a flyer stuffed in our door saying that work was going to happen starting in July to replace the gas main on our street.  No problem, it’s July.  On the designated date, our street got marked up with bright spray paint.  Nothing else happened.

OK, now it is September.  They start the work.  We deal with interesting parking, occasional street closings, dust, large machines parked on the street, big yellow pipes.  I’m very happy we did not have the workers’ porta-potty in front of our house.  That was at the far end of the block.

Today was the day they turned off the gas from the old main.  They came around to turn on the gas from the new main, but go figure, we were at WORK.  We had a nice little notice on our door with a 24-hour phone number that nobody answers.  My wonderful wonderful husband is trying to rearrange his schedule so he can be home tomorrow to call the gas company and then wait around for them to show up, since they have to have access to the house to turn on the gas and make sure that all the pilot lights work and the house doesn’t fill with gas.

Meanwhile, we have no oven, no stove.  No hot water heater, no clothes dryer.

No macaroni and cheese!


And I had to type this entire blog post twice because my computer froze up right after I typed it the first time!


List of complaints

10 August 2009

Today I feel like if I can just get past the annoyances and grumpy-causing things, I can go be productive.  So I am getting these off my chest:

1.  Seasonal allergies.  sniff. ker-choo!  sniff.  blubber into tissue.  AAGH!  This is WITH daily claritin!  The neti pot helps, but it feels like it takes forever to dump the whole pot of water through my nostrils, so I don’t do it every day.  I think today I will do neti, though!

2. The skylights are leaking again.  Well, one of them is, and only when it rains REALLY HARD like it did yesterday morning, but still, damn.  We just had that fixed a couple of years ago.

3. It is finally hot and humid like summer usually is, but I have been spoiled by the pleasant temperatures of the previous two months and the humidity makes me feel blah.  Plus we are using the AC a lot more, which is using a lot of energy.

4. It’s already August and I haven’t finished all the things I want to get done before school starts!  Though I will try to remember to post later this week about all my accomplishments of the summer, and then you and I can all be impressed.

5. Before you say “but school doesn’t start until September” let me explain that I am going on vacation with family next week and then I have teacher inservice (meetings, trainings, getting classrooms set up, making seating charts, reading IEP‘s, rearranging seating charts so the kids who are supposed to sit up front are in the right place, finding misplaced items, waiting for computer software updates) for a week and kids will show up on Monday, August 31.  So really I have one week left to get a lot of stuff done.

6. When I was cleaning Buzz’s litterbox this morning one of those creepy cave crickets got on my chin, and I felt it tickle and I thought it was just my hair and when I used the back of my wrist to push the hair aside I CRUSHED THE CRICKET AGAINST MY NECK!  EEEEEEEWWWWWWW!  (We have cave crickets in the basement and garage.  They are silent, and because of mental defects they jump TOWARD a disturbance, creeping me out when they do it to me!)

7. I really need to get my hair cut but my wonderful hairdresser QUIT her job to pursue an entirely different career, so I need to find a new salon and a hairdresser who can give me the cut I want.  I hate finding a new hairdresser!  But I haven’t had my hair cut since May and I am getting annoyed with it, so I really need to do it!

OK, that is enough complaining!  Time to get stuff done!

Food for grumpy

7 May 2009

Hi, I’m back.

Grumpy is me.  This is my dinner.


Today was one of 6 days this century when the date is written (here in the US) as three consecutive odd numbers.  05/07/09.  So, it was an “odd day.”  It was unusual for me in several respects.

Since Monday, I’ve been dizzy and I can hear myself blinking.  It’s probably because I didn’t bother getting a new prescription for Lexapro and I ran out of it last week.  But it sure is odd!  I can only hear the blinking when it is quiet enough in the room, and then it is a faint “tsst” corresponding to the electrical impulses in the muscles that move when I blink.  In retrospect, I think my doctor might have warned me not to stop taking my meds abruptly.  But when I quit taking Zoloft over 10 years ago I had no symptoms, and I was clueless that this might happen.

I was supposed to be in a focus group this evening, and I stayed at school late so I could drive straight there from school without having a useless 20 minutes at home.  On the drive, I ran over an “S hook” and punctured a tire.  Rear passenger side.  It stayed inflated long enough for me to pull into a parking lot, and deflated spectacularly when I pulled the hook out.  The hook isn’t even sharp!  Pressure = force over area, indeed.  But it was late enough that after I finished replacing the flat with the emergency spare and made it to a garage, the garages were either closed or had enough work to take them through to closing.  One offered to take the tire and patch it first thing in the morning, but for some reason garages never open as early as I go to work.  I WOULD have left the car, but having made a doctor appointment for tomorrow (the dizziness is getting pretty annoying, actually) that requires me to leave work early means that getting a ride from another teacher doesn’t work.  So I will drive to school and back tomorrow on the emergency spare, which I am not happy about, but whatever.

Since I had planned to be in the focus group all evening and they were supposed to feed me and pay me $75, we hadn’t planned on dinner tonight.  My wonderful, comforting husband (after I called him about my change of plans) had put on the rice cooker, since rice is very comforting.  But I got home HUNGRY and the rice wasn’t done.  So I  opened the fridge.

Oh, fortune!

I found the remainder of a can of white beans (left over from the Cinco de Mayo quesadillas I made Tuesday), the remainder of a jar of artichoke hearts (the rest had gone into pasta, and I think a pizza too), a packet of baby carrots (courtesy of Keiko’s visit weeks ago and still hiding in the fridge), some old but still crispy celery, part of a vidalia onion, and part of a bag of spinach (I think most of it was in the lasagne we had on Sunday).  Pile it all in a bowl, chopped into small pieces (the beans are small enough already).  Add parsley, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and STIR.

Grumpy had dinner, and didn’t share.

I’m feeling less grumpy now, and I think it is past time for bed already.

More Verizon wackiness

20 March 2009

The depths of Verizon’s awfulness keep getting deeper, the longer I live to learn about them. I swear, I don’t go looking for this stuff. Check out this lovely check written to verizon by xkcd’s Randall Munroe, then listen to some of the phone call that inspired it. It’s a long call, so I don’t recommend listening to the whole thing.

New & Improved!

1 January 2009

New and Improved, originally uploaded by TeaWithBuzz.

The “New & Improved!” box on the right contains one ounce less cereal than the box on the left. It also contains 3% less of my “daily whole grain needs” (down to 87% from 90%) and correspondingly contains 42g of whole grains compared to the 45g in the left hand box.

Now, if 45g is 90%, then 42g OUGHT to be 84%, if we use math.

Shredded Oats are still my favorite breakfast cereal, but I do question the use of the adjective “improved” in this case. Maybe it tastes better? I can’t tell.

UPDATE:  I have discovered the improvement!  The new smaller box actually fits on the shelf in the cupboard!  The old box only fit if I jammed it in on a slant.


19 October 2008

So here I am, in my nice home office, with my nice bright light and my nice computer and my comfortable chair and my pile of work, and a teleconference for my online course coming up in about an hour.  And the grandchildren of the people next door are running around outdoors, in the dark, mind you, screaming.

Obviously, they must be playing some sort of game.  I’m sure they are having a lot of fun, and I’m not some crochety 80-year-old.  It just makes me wish I had some bagpipes and knew how to use them. Still, I’d rather live where I am or even in the city, as opposed to out in the middle of nowhere.

My news?

I’m still behind on schoolwork, planning for the big Physics Olympics meet that my school is hosting next Saturday, still have mucous in my sinuses from my second cold of the month, hoping to stay caught up on my online course, and hoping I can find the time to put together my props for Halloween.  Only one more weekend left before Halloween.

The Physics Teachers’ Demo Night went very well on Friday, and as usual I learned a lot, including what happens when you shine a green laser on something fluorescent and all the cool apps you can get for an iPod Touch, which has a built-in 3-axis accelerometer.  Accelerometers are useful because they can tell you if you crash your car, by deploying an airbag, but in the iPod Touch the main point is to know which way is down.  That way you can view your video right side up no matter how you are holding it, I guess.  But people have written little programs that take advantage of the accelerometer that turn your iPod Touch into a bubble level, or you can check the acceleration and braking performance of your car, or you can take it on a roller coaster and collect acceleration data (how many g’s did we feel in that dip?  Is the shoulder harness really necessary in the circle?) and then you can e-mail the data to yourself if you are in a WiFi area.  Now that is fantastic!  In physics classes we can get a 3-axis accelerometer which is housed in a black plastic box thicker than an iPod Touch and which has a long cable to attach it to another plastic box which is an interface that allows the data from the accelerometer to go to a computer and be displayed on the screen.  Now all that can be in one small package for a mere $300.  Not that we could ever get away with buying a class set of iPod Touches for school use.

Despite all I do, I found a few minutes to experiment with some photos I took and I played with the coloring, the “sharpness,” the contrast, etc, which you can do in iPhoto.  Here are two versions of a photo I took of the various squashes and guords that I made into a fall table decoration.  I actually kindof like the black and white version slightly better.  What do you think?

These are two photos that I took with different camera settings, within a few seconds of each other of the same edge of a wall.  They are so different!

Ah, a few minutes of typing and the screaming outdoors has stopped.  Time to get some work done!