Amy (old posts, page 17)

System Administrator Appreciation Day

July 27 is System Administrator Appreciation Day, so in honour of my brother (who is no longer administering sys, but did for a long time to the detriment of his own mental health and love of humanity), my friends Jeff, Woody (both also ex-sysamins) and Jason (who I believe does anything for money, provided there are Macs involved), and of course my own home sysadmin Blake, go and buy your sysadmin a fancy coffee (or a beer).

Daily Deck Update 10

Get it?  Agate?  Get it? A Gate! No longer just a pretty stone, we now have a gate to keep out whatever’s been pooing in our yard. (Assuming it isn’t one of the girls. Or a raccoon. Or someone’s cat. Or something that could squeeze through the gap in the bottom. But still, it’s got to be less likely to continue, right?)
The Shed. Our garbage shed! It’s a bit larger than I thought it would be which I think is partially due to the sloped roof, which is mandatory in places that get as much snow as we sometimes do, and partially because… Well, I don’t know why else it might be so big. Maybe just because that was the scale of the space it had to take up.
Screen! And an old-new screen door. This should get some air moving through the house without my having to worry too much about finding a hornet in my bed (again!) And when the screen on the front gets installed, it should be even sweeter.

Daily Deck Update 8

Stairs! It’s getting close... The planters are done, and the garbage bin (which seems larger than I thought it would be) is framed in.
Stonehenge.  Kinda. A closer-up view of one of the planters, along with the base to the umbrella for the patio table, and the gas hookup for the barbeque.
Stairs! And the inside of the garbage bin, with obligatory cat.
Okay, so the comments were a little weak today, I’m recovering from a severe arm wound, cut me some slack.

Yet More Books

Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide by Barbara Coloroso. Like so many of us, Coloroso has been doing a sort of independent study of genocide and she came up with the rather surprising, at first glance, theory that genocide is bullying writ large. I was pretty skeptical at first but she sold me on her idea; she has done a lot of thinking about bullying and she has her trademark bulleted lists on the topic all figured out, and she manages to map them to genocide quite convincingly. I'll probably check out her book on bullying, and also a few of the books she refers to on genocide. A few of them were on my list before but I chickened out; maybe this time I will have the guts to actually read them.

Outbreak: Plagues that Changed History by Bryn Barnard is actually a picture book which I grabbed from the kids' section because I'm all about plagues and gruesome diseases. However, it's written at what seems to me to be a very advanced level. It is a fantastic book; each chapter discusses one plague and its effect on society, and the illustrations (also by the author) are lush.

I didn't actually read The Assault on Reason by Al Gore because I had it out of the library and I had to take it back before I got more than a couple of chapters in. However, I was pleasantly surprised; in the chapters I read he got into why people are so compelled by television, so it seems like he's really getting into the very roots of why American politics is so screwed up. I have put myself on the hold list again (I am number 249 of 267) and I look forward to having another crack at this book. Sometime in 2008.

More Books I Have Read This Year

Okay, Cordelia is napping and Delphine is busy with Charlie and Lola and I am for once not too tired to move, so allow me to type a list of all the books I have read but not yet posted about, and perhaps even discuss one or two.

Books About Technical Stuff

Making the Most of Kitchens by Gilly Love. I read this before the reno when we were still trying to figure out what we were going to do. It wasn't really all that useful because I had pretty much made all the big decisions, and we didn't have that much flexibility in terms of layout anyway. However, if I hadn't thought about what kind of countertop I wanted or whether wood floors were a good idea, this book might have come in useful. It had lots of pictures of different kitchens for decorating inspiration.

The fact that it was an English book was a little weird at times; she tries to talk you into refrigerating things. Now there's an idea!

The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams is a very useful overview for non-designers who none-the-less find themselves having to design or judge the design of letters, newsletters, logos, business cards, posters, banners, and so on. If, like me, you know what you like but you don't know why, or (worse) you know what you don't like but don't know how to fix it, this book is a must-read.

Williams breaks design down into four simple principles (contrast, repetition, proximity, and alignment) and then explains how to apply them to make your documents more attractive and powerful while never overlooking the most important thing, communication.

If I'm ever in a position where I have to create documents I will definitely have a copy of this book on my shelf.

Vegetable Gardening From Planting to Picking: The Complete Guide to Creating a Bountiful Garden by Fern Marshall Bradley and Jane Courtier and some other, slightly thinner but equally useful vegetable gardning book which I read rather belatedly this June and July. My garden is doing, frankly, rather dismally. I just brought a foot long zucchini home from my friend Tanya's garden, while my zucchini plant has one little three-inch fruit on it. Honestly, who can't grow a zucchini? But according to these books I should have spent a lot more time and effort preparing the earth before planting, and I definitely need to water, fertilize and weed more. Maybe at all. Yes, there isn't really anything I did right this year, but the lovely thing about gardening is you can always try again next year.

The books cover everything from planning your garden (another thing I didn't really do) to harvesting and preserving your crops, as well as giving specific growing and harvesting instructions for a variety of fruit and vegetables. The only problem I had was that the books were written for all of North America, so I had to selectively ignore advice about things like okra and peanuts which will never grow in good old Zone 5. I wonder if there's a good Ontario vegetable gardening book. (I bet the library would know!)

Books for Fun

The Rabbi's Girls by Johanna Hurwitz. I picked this up off the young adult rack at the library because I am interested in juvenile literature with Jewish content, if only to know what to steer the girls towards when they get older and want some context about their own personal history. This is a novel about a family that moves around the US midwest (? I think, I can't exactly remember) as their rabbi father is shunted from community to community (parish? I'm sure that's not the word!) It was a nice light read, I can't complain.

Does Anything Eat Wasps? And 101 Other Questions by New Scientist. This is a collection of questions and answers from New Scientist's Last Word page (okay, I'm making that up, I can't remember the name of their last page) where people send in their perplexing sciency questions and other people take a stab at answering them. This was the first book I read after we came up for air after the reno, and it was a nice easy way to get back into using my brain again. There's plenty of interesting stuff in here, but of course my favourite thing was the question about why some people sound better than others when they sing.

Okay, I only have three books to go, but Delphine would like me to play with her so off I go! Maybe Blake will hurt himself again and post about it.

Daily Deck Update 7

Stairs! The facing went on! Apparently we got fewer long planks than we needed, so Cory couldn’t finish the deck itself, so instead he put on the facing, and started building the frames for the planters. Hey, I just noticed the big long stair at the front. Neat!
Stonehenge.  Kinda. And another shot of the side stairs, with facing.

Daily Deck Update 6

Stairs! Finally, a set of stairs! I can’t tell you how excited I am about those, although I am a little curious as to why that first step is twice as long as the second… Maybe the ground moved up. Yeah, that's what I'll go with.
Stonehenge.  Kinda. This line of stones brought to you by Cordelia. It’s nice to see that she can create order as well as chaos.
A window to nowhere. And finally, a bonus picture for Andrew. Yes, that was a window you saw under our deck. I’m not sure how we’ll get light into the basement now. Perhaps with electricity. (I’m also not sure what is going to happen to the edge of the deck, so we just might still get some light from the edges.

Daily Deck Update 5

Il Pleut.It’s raining, with thunderstorms even, and so nothing’s going to happen to the deck today. Perhaps tomorrow.
(Oh, and the weather department doesn't keep historical pages active, so by the time you click on the little cloud, it might say something completely different.)

Daily Deck Update 4

Halfway done.Wow, is that ever going quickly. At least, far quicker than I would have been able to do it. The last quarter of the last board in the big group on the right isn't screwed down yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

Still to do, the stairs, the planters, and the garbage bin. We might not be getting a barbeque until the end of the summer, because a friend of the family is downsizing, and might give us her’s, but either way, I plan on having a party when the deck is done, with beer and margaritas and some sort of munchie thing. And of course you’re all invited! I’ll start planning it after the deck is actually done, and post details when they’re finalized.