Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


I didn’t vote on Tuesday

November 10, 2006

One of my main goals as a new father, aside from teaching my son how to pipet accurately and all that, is to avoid withdrawing into my little world of lab experiments, diaper changes, and road races, with minimal connection to people and issues outside of this sphere.

That’s the goal, yet the withdrawal is already underway. This week, I was so preoccupied with work stuff and home stuff that I forgot to vote.

I can forgive myself for this; in fact, I already have. But I need to do better in the future.


A third of a century

August 5, 2006

On September 17th, I will turn 33 and 1/3 years old — exactly one third of a century. This strikes me as a milestone worth celebrating, but how should I mark the occasion? Make a third of a birthday cake? Run 33.33 miles? The latter is not feasible, since I’ll be racing the Twin Cities Marathon on October 1st, but perhaps I could run 33.33 laps around a track, or 33.33 minutes at race pace, or something like that. Or maybe I should borrow an old record player and put on some LPs (rotation speed: 33 1/3 rpm) released in 1973, the year I was born. I own “Piano Man” by Billy Joel and “Fantasy” by Carole King, for starters….

Does anyone out there have any other fun, numerically relevant activities to suggest?


List of things to do … eventually

July 11, 2006

Blogging is definitely a guilty pleasure, at least for me.

There are so many noble and/or practical ways I could be spending my time right now. For example, I could be

1. Researching the causes of and solutions to global warming.

2. Rearranging the junk in our basement to make room for an office.

3. Recording the song I wrote for my friend Do for his birthday. (Which was in FEBRUARY.)

Instead, I’m flexing my typing muscles, because that’s more fun. And I’ll probably make the same choice again tomorrow, rather than, say,

4. Reading the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in King County.

5. Reading either Running at the Speed of Life or How to Date in a Post-Dating World, both written by friends.

6. Reading a book on pregnancy and childbirth. (Yes, Liz is carrying a few extra pounds these days.)

Occasionally, an unselfish choice and a fun choice are one and the same. Last Thursday, Liz and I went to Diane’s “How to Date” book reading at Barnes & Noble, where we gave her our support and also had a few laughs at the expense of the other attendees, such as the woman who wanted to know why she gets so few dates in comparison to one of her friends, or the guy who insisted that there is one and only one “true love” out there for each of us.

Too often, however, entertainment value trumps substance, and options like

7. Learning matrix algebra.

8. Writing a Letter to the Editor.

9. Calling my grandmother.

get neglected.

So what’s the point of listing tasks that I’ve been ignoring? I guess I just wanted to document the pangs of guilt that I feel from time to time. I’ve been told that I have enough guilt to be a pretty decent Catholic, although I don’t have much inclination to pray, attend Mass, etc.

Then again, I could skip those rituals and then feel guilty about that, too.


How to monitor blogs

June 22, 2006

Do you keep track of other people’s blogs by bookmarking them all and then visiting each one daily to see if they’ve been updated that day? That’s what I did until this past Tuesday, when I finally admitted that this system is only practical if the total number of blogs you read is less than, say, five. I’m now using a news aggregator, also known as a feed reader, and am much happier because of it. I mention all this in case any readers of this blog are even farther behind the times than I am and have yet to discover the joys of news aggregators. This post is for you, you clueless Luddites! Turn off your record players and pay attention!

In brief, a news aggregator monitors your “playlist” of blogs, checking them for updates and notifying you when new content has been posted. Some aggregators are web-based, while others are downloadable programs that are launched from your hard drive. If you use a web-based aggregator, you simply log onto the aggregator website, which then displays and/or offers links to new blog entries that have been published since your last login.

The aggregator I currently use and recommend is [updated on 8-8-09] NewsGator, although Google Reader also looks decent. To get started, you just create an account by providing a username/email address, password, etc. Then you tell the aggregator which blogs you want to subscribe to. The only tricky part here is that you can’t always enter the blog’s “home page” address (e.g.,; you may need to specify the address of the blog’s feed (e.g., A feed is a specially coded version of the blog that allows it to be exported to aggregators. Many blogs have little RSS or XML buttons (RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, which is written in XML, a coding language similar to HTML) that, if clicked upon, will show you the feed’s address. However, if all you know is the address of the main blog page (e.g.,, the news aggregator can usually figure out the feed address for you.

What if you only follow one or two blogs that aren’t updated very often? In that situation, you might want to sign up at, which will email you when new content is posted to those blogs.

I hope this tidbit is helpful. If so, pass it on!<