Category Archives: Tales

The Presentation

I gave the short presentation I’d been dreading this afternoon. Anyone who knows me knows that I have no problem talking to people… even to groups of people at a time. Only when I’m standing up in front of a room with all eyes fixed forward do I entirely lose my nerve; however, today I think I did well. I crammed a lot into roughly 15-20 minutes, but I think I gave everyone a rough idea what we have available, and where to go to find more information and help if they need it.

Next time I think I need a bit more in the way of notes — rather than just bringing up the bullet points and coming up with information on the fly. I also think I could tweak the order of things a bit. I kept telling people about a certain topic, but then saying “I’ll explain that in a minute” when I should have just included it all in what I was talking about.

For those who are curious, today’s presentation was an orientation for our new users (postdocs, graduate students, and undergrads). It’s the first time, I think, that we’ve ever had them all in one room for this particular talk. In the past postdocs have just gotten the info they needed as it came up. We would have an orientation for the grad students, but our part was mostly “here’s the e-mail address you send help requests to” and a pointer to our documentation. Since we had everyone new in the same room for a change, I went all out and came up with a short Keynote presentation to give folks an overview of everything we offer within the department, as well as more insight into how things are configured.

Talking to some of our new users after the orientation, I got a number of thanks for presenting it and letting them know about things they might never have heard about otherwise. I was stoked that the feedback was so positive, and I hope this really helps people with their future work in the department. I hung out with a couple of the postdocs and our grad students after the talk and we talked about all sorts of random stuff, from artificial intelligence to the best places for lunch and ice cream around Princeton and even about the best places to grocery shop on a budget. In all, I think today was a very successful day, and I’m really looking forward to giving this talk again next year.


It’s a galaxy. She also happens to be my kitten. I adopted her in August after she was abandoned by her mother outside the building at work. We first spotted the kittens and their mother around June. We started to leave food out for them and gradually we saw them more often, though they still ran away if a human got too close. A couple months later we started seeing the kittens alone, without mom. We continued to leave food out for them and made our presence known more often. Gradually, over time, we were able to get close without causing them to run away.

At that point we decided to try and catch them. The first one caught was, if memory serves, a female called Cosmo (though she got another name when her adoptive ‘parents’ too her home). If I recall correctly, she was adopted by a person in another department. Next up was Lily, named after Lily Potter. She went home with Margot, the library assistant.

Finally came the day when we saw Andromeda outside by the door. Margot and I went outside and gradually coaxed her out of the bushes. She let us grab her and hold her without putting up much of a fight. I think she’d reached the stage where she was curious about everything, so we brought her inside and put her in a cage in a vacant office until I could arrange a visit to the vet. I wanted to have her checked out before I brought her home for the first time. She took to using a litter box fairly well; although we did discover she didn’t like the pine pellet litter.

She checked out fine at the vet and got her first round of shots. Then I took her home. She spent the first day or so huddled up in the bathroom. She seemed very nervous; though when I sat in the bathroom she crawled up to me to cuddle. Gradually she got used to living in my apartment and seems to have finally grown fond of living with me. She’s also grown in general. When I took her to the vet for the first time she weighed just over three pounds. In fact, she used to be small enough to walk around my neck and shoulders with ease. At the last vet visit a few weeks ago, she was over five pounds, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s over six by now. She’s also a bit too big to stand on my shoulders now, though she doesn’t mind being worn as a scarf.

Andromeda is a hyperactive monster, and I wouldn’t have her any other way. She’s also a cuddle bug and loves to snuggle up in my lap or on the couch next to me when I get home from work. She goes absolutely ballistic about her mouse toys. I can throw it for her and she’ll chase after it and bring it right back to me. I’m glad I got her when I did as I fear if we’d been later, it would have been too late to ‘mold’ her into a good house pet. You can see a few pictures of her over in the sidebar on the right, the full gallery can be found on my Flickr account.

As a side note, I was very hesitant to get a cat. The primary reason is that I’m allergic to cats. Thankfully, modern medicine has made that less of an issue. The other reason was responsibility. It was a big step for me to be responsible for another life, but I’ve progressed nicely. I’m looking forward to spending many years with Andromeda (named by one of our faculty, but I liked the name so I stuck with it — I call her Rommie for short after the Andromeda Ascendant; yes I’m a sci-fi geek). I think she made a wonderful addition to my life.

Changes Gallore!

If you actually visited my old site previously, you might have noticed things have changed. Last year I started an effort to consolidate my myriad of websites into one WordPress blog. Well, I never actually finished, but I’ve reached the point where I’m almost willing to throw out what I haven’t already moved.

My reasoning is that I have entirely too much random stuff in my life to keep me busy these days. Thus, I have no time to maintain all this crap (and let’s not beat around the bush — it *is* crap that has no meaning to anyone but me and perhaps a few friends). So, I’m going to make this live. I’ve got everything I care about either imported or linked to for the time being.

I think I’m going to kill off MessyDesks. That was a funny idea back when I created it, but it hasn’t been touched in over six years, and I don’t think it will be in the foreseeable future. I also intend to eventually move my gallery over to either Flickr or Picasa at some point. I’ve moved this blog over to so I don’t have to worry about maintaining the software. You might wonder why bother with wordpress at all? Well, as you saw on my previous websites, I am not a web designer by any stretch of the imagination. While I’ve done some stuff in Dreamweaver and had it look presentable, I’d much rather worry about the content. A CMS, such as WordPress, lets me forget about the site management aspect and worry about throwing my guts out there for you to laugh at (or with!).

So here it is. This is me. I intend to make a few more posts to bring folks up to date with my life. If you’re really that fascinated with me, stay tuned!

That sounded like an accident…

Ok, so I’m visiting Keith to see the kitten he adopted, and in the late evening we’re watching tv and hear tires screech and a loud bang! “That sounded like an accident in the parking lot,” I said. But we knew that it was a bit loud to be car vs. car and would probably not have made the building shake like it did. We walk out onto his balcony and there’s this VW, over the curb and touching the building right at the entrance to the apartment. We ran downstairs to discover that his front door was jammed shut. The car had hit the facia of the building to the side of the door, which moved the framework around the door such that the latch in the doorknob was unable to clear the frame. We were stuck.

To top it all off, my car was parked in the spot right next to the one the driver of the VW was attempting to park in. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but the rear driver side corner of the car was resting on the front passenger side of my car. I wanted to go down and take a look, but I was stuck (and I wasn’t about to jump for it). I called the police since the driver’s husband didn’t seem particular interested in calling. While waiting, this idiot gets in the car and starts to back up! Uh, fucktard, don’t move your car until I can get my car out of the way so that you don’t do any more damage to it! I yelled at the guy to wait until the police got here because a) I didn’t want him doing any more damage to my car and b) I wanted the police to see things the way they were.

A South Brunswick police office showed up around 10 minutes later (I had called their main number and not 911 as no one was injured so they didn’t dispatch it as an emergency). After he got the rundown of the situation he asked if it was OK to move my car so they could move the VW out of the way. I tossed him my keys (yeah, I’m very trusting) and he moved my car. From what I could see from the balcony, it looked like there wasn’t any major damage to my car. The VW on the other hand had quite a bit more damage. It’s hood was dented downward a bit, the front fascia was cracked, sidemarker was shattered, and a cooling line (or maybe the radiator itself) was punctured and was leaking coolant. To play it safe, the officer radioed for a township inspector to come out before anyone tried to force the door open, just in case there was structural damage.

So, Keith and I were standing there, waiting for the inspector to show, all the while the officer is going over the usual paperwork that’s involved in an accident. The story from the person driving the VW was that she was attempting to park the vehicle and her foot slipped off the brake right onto the gas pedal. The officer left me a copy of the report number for pickup and issued a citation to the lady for careless driving. While we were waiting the property manager showed up, as did the maintenance guy. When the officer had finished his report he left, leaving us to wait for the inspector to show around 15 minutes later. He took a look and gave the ok for forcing the door open as most of the damage was in the fascia of the building and some of the framing around the door (but nothing that apparently was load bearing).

Once I was finally able to get outside I walked over to my car to get a better look at the damage. The most obvious issue was the edge of the bumper popped a little lose as a clip came out. There was a small dent in sheetmetal, scrapes in the paint, and several abrasions in my headlight/sidemarker assembly. Overall, not much damage, but to say I’m fucking pissed doesn’t quite cover it as I haven’t even had the car for four months. Oh well, I’ll deal with the insurance company on Monday and work to get it fixed (on their dime) as soon as possible. As for the building, the property maintenance guy was able to beat the frame into submission enough to “secure” the door with a new lock (had to destroy the old one to get it open). That will hopefully get a better fix during the week, as that’s going to require some framing and reattaching the brickwork back to the front of the building.
I’ll also try and post some pictures sooner or later.