Instant Indoor Garden

I've just concluded my adventure of getting a seed-starting area set up at my house. It's something I've been meaning to do for a while, but I think the combination of missing the crops at Elkhorn Ranch as spring approaches, paying an arm and a leg for a few withered basil leaves at the grocery the other day, and seeing Hopi's setup inspired me into action. A few hours at my local home improvement superstore, a few hours putting up the table and equipment, and a bit of cursing later, I'm ready to get my garden going. (I have issues with instant gratification - I could have bought the equipment tonight, gone to bed at a reasonable hour, and installed it tomorrow, but no...) Now there's just that whole "not murdering the plants" part to worry about.

A Short History of Nearly Everything

I'm having a really great time right now reading/listening to Bill Bryson's book A Short History of Nearly Everything. The book itself is very intriguing - a lively and engaging narrative of how our universe came to be and where it is now, the sciences and people who have explored those questions for so long, and the amazing oddities and subtleties about how our world works. It's a little geeky, but definitely written for non-geeks who want the Big Picture in the biggest sense of the word.
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Vienna Teng's Waking Hour

I'd like to sing the praises of artist Vienna Teng. Not only is her music outstanding (more on that in a moment), but her story is quite interesting as well, at least to me. Teng studied Computer Science at Stanford University, and then worked as a software engineer at Cisco Systems in San Francisco. As a fellow geek, I have to admire that part alone. But then Teng quit her tech job to prepare for the independent release of her debut album, Waking Hour, which is a really wonderful mix of striking lyrics, piano ballads, and Teng's clear, beautiful voice. Think Tori Amos without the drama and screeching. The track "Soon Love Soon" is my current favorite, but as I keep exploring the album, I'm always finding new kinds of musical beauty. Since the release of WH, she's been on Letterman, CNN, NPR, and toured with Shawn Colvin, and seems to have quite a growing fan base. Whether or not you appreciate the tech-head-turned-singer story that might inspire geeks everywhere, consider checking out Teng's work (available for download through the iTunes Music Store).

Big Corporate Tops Small and Local

I'm usually very much in favor of using local vendors, service providers, etc. instead of big corporate versions whenever possible and reasonable. Current cultural trends make that a challenge. But I've recently had an experience where the branch of a big corporate bank impressed me much more than that of the local bank that I would usually like to celebrate on that basis alone.
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Gas Pump Buffer Overflow

Random rant: In 1970, Intel produced a memory chip, the first, capable of storing 1 kilobyte of data - a couple of paragraphs of text or so. Today, one can obtain memory chips that store many gigabytes of data - enough to hold entire movies, encyclopedias, and more - for mere hundreds of dollars. So, why is it that when I finish pumping gas at a gas station and hit the "RECEIPT YES" button, the piece of crap machine can't store that one simple keystroke in its input buffer long enough that it doesn't have to ask me 5 seconds later, "RECEIPT? (YES/NO)". It can remember a credit card number, do complex fuel tax calculations, and even tell me about the latest sugar-coated crap I can buy inside, but not that I pressed that button a few seconds ago. It's a scary, scary world we live in, folks. Bah!