MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
Visit me at my new blog, MsGeek.Org v3.0

Heard the Word of Blog?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Math is a wonderful thing
Math is a really cool thing
So, get off your "ath," let's do some math
Math, math, math, math, math

-- Dewey Finn, School of Rock

With those immortal words, I bring the news that I am still passing Math 113!!! I can't freakin' believe it. Actually when all the ancillary quizzes get factored in, and if I keep this pace up with the Final Exam, I will come out of this class with a B.

I think a great deal of credit needs to go to two people: my husband Richie, and my Prof, Mary Hito. The rest of the "Math Army" I acquired during these three semesters have also contributed, from Jimmy, the guy Woodbury got to tutor me, the tutors in the Math Lab and in the Learning Center, Karmia from Plastic.Com, etc.

I also think that I've found that my problem all these years hasn't been Mathematics, but Arithmetic. The Algebra stuff I've been doing this semester has been Mathematically rich, but also Arithmetically simple. I'm sure things will get more hairy once the Arithmetical complexity starts to get pumped up.

I'm in good company with this set of unique challenges. Not only Einstein, but also Poincare had trouble with Arithmetic. Both were undeniably superstars with Math.

I think I also know what I want to study when I get done with my BA in Psychology. I want to try to find ways to teach Math better, and to do the important work of finding ways to lower affective filter in the Mathematics classroom so that Math learning can actually take place. If the Affective Filter is up, you can't teach and the kid can't learn. Simple as that.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Suddenly we're cut off. We can't hail our friends across the globe and say, "It's a beautiful day in the cyberhood."
--Mr. O'Neill, "Cafe Disaffecto" Daria episode 104

I'm sitting here soaking up the free 802.11b bandwidth here at LAVC, but cursing how many ports they've blocked. I suppose it's a really good idea to block ports like the ones that Windows worms use, but it's annoying I can't do AIM or IRC or anything like that. And AIM Express on the AOL IM website won't work either with Mozilla 1.7.3, FireFox 1.0, or Konqueror 3.3.1. Never mind that it says it will work with Mozilla 1.4. Stupid braindead site!

I brought the ThinkPad with me because I wanted to show Doc Rosow some software I have installed on the Dark Side of my HD. (bwahahaha!) Turns out that I wound up getting an opportunity to hip someone to Linux. I won't connect this machine to wireless bandwidth on the Windows 2K side of the hard drive, so I'm on with Linux and happy. This poor gal has a Dell Latitude (good thing it isn't an Inspiron!) and has an install of Windows XP that she can't get Administrator access on. I showed her my install of Linux and she was amazed. Yes, Linux comes with a full-fledged office suite, a bunch of cute games, and all the Internet stuff you can use. No, it doesn't cost you a dime.

Hopefully she'll keep in touch with me and I will convert her to the Penguin side of the Force. Resistance is futile...wait, I'm mixing my Sci-Fi metaphors here...drat.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

OK, Jan: you got me. I have to post this, not just for your sake, but also for Chad and Chris and Ben and Paperpusher and Kara and Shelby and Heather and everyone else who used to haunt #daria+ all those years.

If there is at least one person in your life who you consider a close friend, and who you would not have met without being part of an online fandom, post this sentence in your journal.

Sarcasm. It's a great way to deal. You guys all taught me that. Goddess bless you.

Elephants in the living room: why and how the Bush administration has fucked us up.

This is absolutely worth reading. I discovered it on Slashdot but it's actually been floating around at Kuro5hin for a bit. The author had the guts to post it on both the Free Republic and Democratic Underground...I admire that.

The thesis is scary. Basically W's fiscal irresponsibility and other geopolitical/economic issues are combining in what looks like a perfect storm headed the US economy's way. I urge you to read the essay, wherever you choose to. Then hang on, because it seems the worst is yet to come.

Thank you, Coryoth/Jedidiah, for writing this.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Reasons to be thankful, part 1...
(apologies to the late great Ian Dury)

OK, let's just start out by invoking that American Armed Forces turn of phrase: TARFU. Things Are Really Fouled (standing in for another word which I'm sure you can guess) Up.

Bush stole another election, and this time there is no way to figure out whether or not he stole it.

Thinking that he could get away with it, due to our sterling example of Democracy in action, Viktor Yanukovich of Ukraine stole an election of his own. Somehow Colin Powell protesting the results seems a little, um, disingenuous.

Here in California, we have had a year of Ah-nold, who has proven to be a worse leader than Grey Davis. Has he solved the budget crisis? Nope. Has he fulfilled his promise to protect the environment? The picture is unclear at best. It seems like what the Governator is best at is pushing California as a tourist destination and a food exporter to the Japanese. Oh yeah, he's also pretty damn good at ducking those pesky allegations of being a serial groper.

In spite of all this bad news, there's still a lot of things I can be thankful for.

1.) I'm thankful for my chance to go back to school. I'm a bit in trouble at present with the Math, but otherwise I seem to be doing just fine. Will I make it back onto the Dean's list for this semester? Probably unlikely. But am I doing better than I thought I would? Yes. I have a lot of good people at Los Angeles Valley College to be thankful for. Prof. Mary Hito especially, but people like Dr. LaVergne Rosow who I studied with last semester in Education 203 but whom I continue to work with and pitch in to help this semester. I plan to be a part of things in Spring as well. Other good teachers I have had this time around include Prof. Whiting in Physical Science 1, Prof. Moore in Linguistics 1, and yes, even Prof. Allen in Sociology 22. Yeah I've butted heads with her politically but otherwise I think she's cool.

2.) I'm thankful that I seem to be making an impression on the kid I read to every week for Koreh LA. He proudly showed me the library card he insisted his mother take him to get. He's not a perfect reader by a longshot, but he seems to be a lot more motivated than his teachers realize. He just seems to be bored with the pabulum that LA Unified shovels in front of their students. Open Court Reading sucks. Maybe it's better than the old SRA readers from when I was going to school, but it's pretty damn bad.

3.) I'm thankful for the companionship, love, and support of my husband Richie.

4.) I'm thankful for a whole group of great friends, both here in LA, in Santa Barbara, and in places more far flung than that.

5.) I'm thankful for my family...yeah, not a hell of a lot left of them, but the ones who remain are cool.

6.) I'm grateful to Ms. Sylvia Rodriguez and Mr. Frank Gonzalez at the Woodbury/LAVC Connections Center for being incredibly supportive of me, even when Woodbury University wasn't my first-choice school. Now that it increasingly looks like that's where I'm headed after I leave LAVC, their support has been very appreciated.

I think that just having one day to encourage gratitude for one's advantages in life is pretty lame. I really don't celebrate Thanksgiving on Turkey Day...instead I spend a little time remembering how many Indigenous Americans got the shaft from us Euro-Americans. Every day should be a day to count one's "blessings" and be happy for what you've got in life. Gratitude is something that often escapes us in our daily hustle and bustle. It has nothing to do with religion. Just take some time out and think about what you're grateful for. That gives you a little perspective with which to face your day.

Oh yeah...I'm grateful for whomever takes the time out to read my blog. I have no illusions about how many there are. Whoever you are...thanks.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Math 113 test took me 3 hours to finish(!), but Prof. Hito was more than happy to oblige me the extra time. I also felt a lot less stoopid afterwards than the last time I took a math test. I think I might have done OK.

It's weird...I don't think that DSP&S has really helped me much since I found out I qualify for their services. The priority class registration is nice, but I'm not sure whether taking tests through their proctoring service is any better than just doing it in class. I'm going to take my Physical Science final through them but I think I might just take my Math 113 final the same way I took this test.

Oh yeah...I might still have a prayer of pulling out Math 112 with a C. Please Goddess please Goddess please...

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Counting down to that Math 113 test on I ready? I don't know. I know some of what I need to know but not everything.

After that I can sort of wind down...I have other assignments for other classes, I took a Phys Sci 1 test yesterday, but it's like the Math crap is always the toughest. The level of anxiety isn't as bad as it has been, but it's pretty high.

I wish there was some way to "get" Math and have fun with it. Some people actually do find it fun. I don't know if I will ever find it fun. Ever.

My husband Richie actually finds it somewhat fun. "That boy ain't right" as Hank Hill would say.

Oh yeah...I have to talk with Prof. Castillo about the fate of Math 112. I was told by Frank from Woodbury not to sweat's not a transferrable course and I have so many damn units I can absorb a single F. sir, I don't like it. :-(

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Richie Hass weighs in on current events...share and enjoy the music, sorry that the files aren't tagged right. Stupid SoundForge won't edit ID tags, at least not the version I have.

These files are ok to share. I am 99.9% sure that the song he's parodying is well within the public domain. Julia Ward Howe is a' mouldering in the grave.

The Battle Hymn Of The Repugnant, MP3 version.
The Battle Hymn Of The Repugnant, Ogg Vorbis version.

You got it here first...I haven't even gotten to putting the link up on Richie's website.

If you want more Richie Hass music, get it at

Now I gotta get back to these frickin' papers. Aargggh!

Edited 10:30...the clicky link is now on Richie's site too. W00t.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Looking up from all my schoolwork for a brief second to post here...I think there's a link you need to look at:

Free States vs. Slave States, Blue States vs. Red States.

The link says it all. Who said the South wouldn't rise again?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Today is likely the last of the Dean's List receptions I will attend. Considering the fact that I have two (count 'em!) math classes which will receive final grades this semester (one being the incomplete I took on Math 112 which is right now in danger of spiralling down into The City of F) and that I have classes which I would hope I'd get an A on but I'm likely to get only a B, it's not bloody likely I will be getting my President's List honor and pin.

It was good to see Jimmy, the Woodbury Connections student who tutored me over the summer, get his President's List pin. He's now at Woodbury busting his ass in their rigorous Architecture program. Woodbury's gotten a really outstanding reputation as an Architecture school. They aren't as well known for their Psychology program, but that's OK.

I've got tons of work on my back, I'm still trying to get over this damn cold. Actually Math 113 is looking like a bright spot in my schedule, if you believe that. I thought I'd just squeak by with a C, but right now I have a solid B. I could blow it next week, because there's another high-stakes test coming. I really don't do well in math tests. I don't test well, period, but math...ugh. However, it's not as insurmountable-seeming as it once was. :-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Kerry: down but not out.

Unlike Al Gore, who basically retired from public life after Bush stole his first election, John Kerry is not going to go out quietly. He kept his Senate seat, and he vows to give Bush as much hell from the Loyal Opposition side of the Senate as he can.

Let us remember: the Republicans do not have filibuster-proof majorities in either house. The GOP might be forced to moderate their most extreme policy ideas under threat of gridlock. Hopefully the Dems will hang tough. Bush might have won this one technically fairly, but we can make his second term a nightmare. And there's always 2006 to look forward to: hopefully the GOP gerrymanders will be struck down in the courts in time for the Dems to take back Congress.

I want to point out that there are a couple of new icons on the right side of my blog. One is an affiliate link for NoSweat.Com, which is an outlet for Union-made casual wear. Yes, it's a little bit more expensive than the Chinese Slave Labor-made crap you can get at Wally*World, but the fact that it's made by labor who are at least paid a living wage for their work should make you consider buying your next t-shirts through them. And if you do t-shirts for your band or your organization, you should seriously consider making your buys through them.

The other icon is for a Yahoo!Group called "takebackamerica." This is a group for those who want to keep politically involved now that the election is over. Things are kind of slow now but it should pick up.

Anyway, this fight isn't over. Not by a long shot. Think good thoughts for our boys and girls who are going through hell in Falluja right now. And don't give up. Kerry isn't.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Just a little note to let y'all know I'm still alive. However, now I've got that fsckn cold that Richie had. I'm fighting valiantly against it, but my head feels like it's filled with cotton.

Gotta get back to cranking on the Math stuff. I delayed the next Math 112 makeup test, but it's coming tomorrow. And the second test for Math 113 is coming 11/18.

There's also stuff I need to do for Soc 22 (Sociology of Women) and Linguistics 1. The Lx 1 extra credit project I'm working on is going to have to wait until after the Math 113 test, since it entails my Math 113 Prof Mary Hito. She is from Peru and of Japanese descent, and has an interesting story I want to tell about growing up, acquiring her first language (Spanish), learning English (her L2) and about how she fell in love with Math, of all things.

Peru is home to the third-largest Nikkei (those of Japanese descent living outside Japan) communities next to Brazil and the United States. Alberto Fujimori is not an unusual case. The story of Peru's Nikkei community is a fascinating one...the Peruvian government actually collaborated with the US in extraditing Peruvian citizens of Japanese descent to the US Internment Camps during WWII. There were also a series of anti-Nikkei riots in Lima and other cities in 1940. Most Peruanos of Japanese descent are descended by a small group of Japanese emigres who came to Peru to work in agriculture. There were less than 1,000 of these Nikkei, but from their numbers came the vast majority of Peruanos with Japanese ancestry.

The more I dig, the more interesting it gets.

Anyway, on Thursday they are holding the Dean's Reception for those who made it onto the Dean's list in Spring 2004. I think this might be the last one I participate in, alas. The two Math classes I am trying to finish, (only Math 112 is in jeopardy there) and the other classes which are more difficult than I had thought they would be, are conspiring to press my limitations. Which in turn makes me more susceptible to colds. Aarrgghhhh....

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Now that the election is over, it's back to sillier pursuits:

You Are a Snarky Blogger!

You've got a razor sharp wit that bloggers are secretly scared of.
And that's why they read your posts as often as they can!

Snarky? Moi?

We did it.

My ThinkPad is 100% functional now. And by 100% I really mean it. I think that somehow sound under Linux sounds better than sound under Windows...perhaps it's the fact that getting it to work was such a struggle that finally having sound working is a very sweet victory.

I am now running Kernel 2.6.9, which has gotten rid of a lot of the problems that earlier kernels have had. APM power manglement is in full effect. We "slept" this system and then woke it back up. No tries at burning CDs yet, but it will play back DVDs, including encrypted ones, although you have to tell mplayer to drop frames to keep in sync. Now once we get a DVD player running on the Windows side that is aware of the hardware assistance available from the NeoMagic chipset, it should play DVDs happily.

I'm going to be leaving here with the happy feeling that this machine is now fully functional from the Linux side. Sound was the last piece to fall into place. I mean, I am grateful for what the 4front guys did with the old install, but it sure feels better to have sound working with 100% Free/Open Source Software tools. XMMS is a lovely program but 4front is really not serving the community by holding back some of their improvements to OSS that are only available in the payware version. In typical Linux fashion, the incomplete OSS was superceded by the 100% Free ALSA system. Typical "route around damage" behavior.

Anyway, we're winding things down now. I think a nice sleep would do me some good, even though I am excited and I also had caffeine a little later than I should have tonight.

What more can I say but w00t.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Santa Barbara. I really wish it was a lot closer to where I live because taking a 2 hour train ride, while pleasant, eats time. It also eats money. $26.02 is cheap for round trip train fare on Amtrak to SB and back, and in the Summer high season and on holidays it's more like $40. Still, it adds up.

I'm blogging here from SBLUG's booth here at the Computer Fair. This is not the biggest show LA Computer Fair runs (that's Pomona in all its monstrous splendor) but it's one of the friendliest ones. And besides, it's in Santa Barbara.

I am very lucky to have some really cool friends here. Three out of the four blogs of friends I have linked on the right-hand side of the page are from the Santa Barbara contingent. I keep in touch with them through IRC and AIM but I'd rather I could just drop in on them and hang out.

I'm not sure if the sound difficulties will be ironed out by the end of my visit. This laptop (which I'm actually typing this on) is pretty much all working except for the sound problem. It was dead easy to get the wireless card running here. I'm pretty much set with both wired and wireless connectivity. Burning is only contingent on downloading a few files from Debian's repositories. Burning on the Windows side, on the other hand, requires buying some software...ouch.

Overwhelmingly, the advantages of Linux outweigh the extra effort of eking them out. One day I will cease to be a Linux padawan and be a full-fledged Linux Jedi. That will be cool.

Friday, November 05, 2004

41 years old. Whoa.

This feels so surreal. I don't really feel my age, and since I'm currently in College I now have a much younger "peer group" to relate to.

Going to Santa Barbara on the 3:30pm train. That will get me there about 5:30-5:45-6-ish or so. The SB geek contingent have surprises planned. Should be fun. Anything to get my mind off of goddamn George W. Bush and goddamn Ah-nold. What do I think about the latter and his typical jock "loser" comment of yesterday? Click the pretty link here. (Warning: audio file Not Safe For Work)

Anyway...I'll try to make this a happy one.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I had to put up a link to this sums up a lot of the ugliness that drove Bush to a second term.

"Are there any queers in the audience here? Get 'em up against the wall..."

-- Lyric from Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

From the "Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out" department:

Apparently John Ashcroft, our current Attorney General, will not be a part of Dubya Part 2: The Sequel. Apparently facing health problems and "exhausted" from the job, the widely-hated Ashcroft is reportedly going to retire either before January 20th or immediately after.

It is unknown what his plans are after vacating his post. Hopefully they include being far away from any position of power over Americans.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The fat lady has sung. According to CNN, Kerry has phoned in his concession to W rather than wait on the provisional ballots. There will be an official announcement at 10am PST.

However, it's not all good news for the Bush camp. Although the GOP picked up a couple of Senators here, a couple of Representatives there, they still do not have a filibuster-proof majority in either house. This means it will be quite difficult for W to push through anything extreme, including Right-wing extremists to fill vacancies in the Supreme Court.

OK, so now what?

I think the last words of Joe Hill as he faced execution say it best: "Don't mourn...ORGANIZE."

We need to take a lesson from the GOP after Goldwater lost to Johnson. The overwhelming nature of the Johnson victory could have caused the party to implode. But instead of being bummed out and overwhelmed, the GOP pulled together, and put together a string of victories that have basically dominated American politics for all but 12 years since. First Nixon, then Reagan, then Bush The Elder and Bush The Younger, punctuated only by a single term for Carter and two terms for Clinton.

We almost got there this time. However, we coasted, thinking that the "anyone but Bush" vote would get us the win. That wasn't enough. We needed to frame Kerry as being the right man for the job. We didn't. So we lost.

Another thing is that we didn't quite roll up our sleeves and meet Bush punch-for-punch. I think that the Democrats didn't quite have the stomach to go as strong as we needed to be. When the Mullahs of Iran and the Spanish cell of Al Qaeda both endorsed Bush for President, we needed to be there with the trumpets. "A vote for Bush is a vote for Tehran and Al Qaeda." That should have been the message. When the FDA approved the implantation of VeriChip in human beings, there should have been instant action from the Democrats, including leafletting cars parked in Evangelical church parking lots with "Bush Administration approves Mark Of The Beast Technology" fliers. Even the message from Osama Bin Laden could have been handled better and more aggressively. Next time we need to steel ourselves for a really dirty campaign. When the GOP slings mud, we need to sling it back and maybe add a few lawn cigars in there for good measure.

Don't mourn. Organize.

In the immediate wake of this election, we need to fight for a few things:

1.) Either the end of the Electoral College, or the passage of proportional representation in all 50 states.

2.) Federal regulations that only certify voting machines that have a printed paper audit trail to facilitate recounts of disputed elections.

3.) A strong comeback in 2006, ala the "Contract With America" GOP surge in 1994. We need to take back the Senate and House. Big time.

This election has made me want to become even more active in politics.

We can let this defeat us. Or we can get busy.

W...that son of a bitch. Right now W has a slight lead in raw votes, and the Electoral College is all tied up.

We gave it our all, but the fact is that W and his powerful friends have resources we can't even think of being able to marshal.

I think there might very well be a chance that this will be the last Presidential election we'll see for the Electoral College. This has given the GOP a chance to see why the system is so broken...the Dems have known it since 2000.

It's not over yet, but the fat lady is warming up. I hope that the media sees this as unfinished rather than as a fait accompli.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

You might have noticed that my picture is missing in action. My web host, Hosting Matters, is in Florida. They also host sites for the State government there, so basically they are getting hammered like crazy. Email has been up and down as well.

Yes, I voted. I got to my polling place and aside from the fact that it seemed a lot busier than usual (usually it's as silent as a mausoleum at Forest Lawn) it was just as it would be during any major election. There was a girl with multiple piercings sitting quietly in a chair in a corner...I suspect she was a Democratic poll watcher. There didn't seem to be anyone there who looked remotely like a Republican poll watcher.

Both my husband and I were able to vote without incident. We had to stand there as one of the poll workers explained how the "InkaVote" system worked...I eventually told the guy "yes, I understand how the voting system works, may I get in line please?" Richie just stood there, nodding his head politely, as the guy continued his spiel.

We both voted Kerry/Edwards. We were definitely in one accord on that score. As far as the Props go, I am not sure how Richie voted, and I didn't ask. He had read my endorsements and said he'd take them under advisement. That's all I can do.

I wound up voting no on Prop 1A. My skepticism about the proposition got the better of me. If Schwarzenegger was pro-Prop 1A, it obviously wouldn't prevent raiding local coffers in any realistic way. That's how Schwarzenegger was able to balance the budget on paper, and I'm sure he'll rely on it in the future. I also voted no on 65 because of uncertainty that remains about that proposition. I also voted down the two Los Angeles County propositions: the 1/2% addition to the County sales tax for more police and sheriff's deputies; and Measure O, the sewage treatment bond. I've said it before, I'll say it again: if I'm in doubt about a bond measure I vote it down. You can read the rest of my guide a couple of posts down.

I hope that there will be a pleasant "November 2nd Surprise" to wake up to tomorrow. I intend to not watch the polls come in...I need to spare my sanity.

Please, folks...if you haven't done so yet, VOTE. So much of our future depends on the decision you will make today. Choose well. I've said my bit about who I want to see win, I'll shut up now.