Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. As such, I’ve been thinking about any women mathematicians/engineers/scientists who inspired me early on — and I’m coming up with nothing. My female math teachers were mostly uninspiring.  And in college I had just one – a Statistics professor – who struggled to deal with the students in our class (300-level) who just didn’t belong there (and asked questions like, “what’s the difference between a mean and a median?”). 

However, now, I work with a bunch of amazing women programmers, statisticians, economists and researchers. There’s no shortage of inspiration there. In fact, we celebrate often that – for one project – the entire programming team is made up of women. Woo! 

I can only hope that my own children come into contact with a wide variety – male and female – of role models. There’s a fair amount of assuming that goes on at our school – that Dads work and Moms stay home – but I try and counter that when I can. 

poor little building

This afternoon I had to go on a little adventure down K street to purchase a gift. I ended up right across the street from this little building, an old three story hold-out in between two larger buildings.

This little guy is where I went to get finger printed several years ago in preparation for some SSA clearance. I thought I had mentioned it here before, but searching for it gave me nothing.

So you get it now.

It was up some very precarious stairs, with a rickety old railing. There was zero air conditioning, oh and I had to write a check for their services. It was straight out of a movie. I remember being annoyed at the process, mostly because it was hot, and I was in a hurry to get back to the office. But now, looking at the poor little building, I feel sort of sad. The city could do with more old school townhouse like buildings. Instead, they just keep putting up more shiny glass covered cubes.

finding it funny

Last year I joined an organization through work to take advantage of some published materials that they make available. It turned out to not be as useful as I’d hoped so I let my membership lapse. Occasionally, I get an email from the organization asking me to consider coming back, or asking why I haven’t. I understand the need for them to send these emails, they make their money off of memberships. I just let them go to a special folder to be ignored and deleted later.

Yesterday, one email made it through the filter. No big deal, I deleted it. Someone else who also got this email decided that they were going to reply asking to be unsubscribed. However, turns out the email that gets replied to is a listserv set up to email every other person who was being solicited. After a few more emails from other strangers asking to be removed from the list, someone figured this out and sent one saying as much. But the unsubscribes have continued. Then someone else tried to be helpful:

Dear all, 

could you please just stop sending e-mail to “[LISTSERV]”?
I’m doing it now to ask you to stop doing this. If you don’t stop doing that, everyone else will keep receiving your messages as well.
And we’ll all end up in each other’s spam boxes, all thousands of us.
If you want to complain to [ORGANIZATION], send it to another address at [ORGANIZATION], not to “[LISTSERV]”.

Nice enough. But of course there were more unsubscribe requests and various other commentary about how stupid the organization was for setting things up this way etc. This made some people angry:

For Heavens sake, will you people take this into a forum or something!!! STOP REPLYING TO ALL! The biggest reason I didn’t renew is absolutely none of anyones business. I resent surveys of any sort as you’re simply using my time for free to help out your business.
I’ve had two screens of messages from an organization I don’t belong to. That is SPAM, harassment and a general pain in the ass.


This guy is clearly very important, because he sent another email after a few more people responded with unsubscribe requests:

I didn’t SUBSCRIBE to ANYTHING. That’s what makes it the definition of SPAM.
BTW, You don’t get the English language very well?? The entire point of the last post was LEAVE ME ALONE!

Clearly, he might think he’s important, but he doesn’t seem very smart. (Maybe he should review his English is all I’m saying.) So after some more emails, someone else tried to be helpful:

Enough already!

The fact that you joined [ORGANIZATION] in the first place shows that you are an intelligent member of the computing and technology world. Email and its use should not be foreign to you nor the use of professional etiquette.

Continual replies to this list will only keep informing ex members like yourselves that you want to be removed. If this was my organization I would not place any valid internal email addresses within this lapsed member list. If my assumptions are correct your replies are not even being viewed by anyone at [ORGANIZATION] and you are only wasting your time.
From a spammer’s point of view the more you continue to reply the more valid email addresses they can harvest.

Sorry for the continued spam but I thought some explanation might be in order.

Personally, I don’t know how it helps spammers harvest email addresses, but whatever… But of course people kept chatting a little and then this guy chimed in:

Having unsubscribed a number of times, I believe that the [ORGANIZATION] is now in breach of the CAN SPAM leglislaton so I believe that the next step is to report the [ORGANIZATION] to FTC, state attorney and Internet service provider for review.

And no one has said anything else (which makes me a little sad). Maybe there will be more later because I was enjoying the outrage.


so today…

I’ve had "city" experiences before.

There was the time I was on the bus in Baltimore and we hit a kid who ran a stop sign on a dirt bike. He was fine. At least fine enough to flee. I’ve been chatted up by the random guy who worked at 7-11 and just happened to leave work at the exact time I was walking by. Ugh. I’ve been to slightly shady bars.

It’s been a while though since anything out of the ordinary has happened to me near work. We were leaving Cosi, my co-worker leaned over to pick up what he thought was a pen. (He has an eye for finding pretty nice pens.) But it wasn’t a pen. Once he realized it, he dropped it on the banquette and we left.

It was pretty clear to me that he didn’t know exactly what it was. So I said, "That was some piece of drug paraphenalia you picked up there."

"What was it? Was it for smoking?"


Realizing that it wasn’t for weed, "Crack?"


It threw me a little because you don’t expect to just sit down next to a crack pipe on your lunch break. At least I don’t.


I’ve been killing myself at work the past few weeks. The project is different from pretty much anything that I’ve worked on before. I’ve mostly been involved in Health and Income/Benfits Policy. But I can get on-board with Justice, too.

But the hard parts are pretty much all finished for the moment and it feels good. What feels even better is that this was all mine. I planned and spec-ed it all out myself in addition to doing the actual work. All that’s left is a little documentation and some minor tweaks. 

Being done comes at a good time since it’s a short week (made shorter by working extra hours last week).  So if we were the sort of family who went around the table and said what we were thankful for, I’d be thankful that I can now relax. Mostly.


The hillbillies’ house is back on the market. We had thought that maybe they had actually sold it. The other day I noticed a car and a couple of very normal people poking around. Alas, they were Realtors and put the for sale sign back up. What’s ever more discouraging is the price that they are now asking. It’s so insanely low. I think they are just trying to unload it and so are coming in under every other house that’s for sale in the neighborhood.

I’m worried for two reasons:

  1. Obviously it effects us. If we ever wanted to sell in the near future (not that we plan to), then the price that they sell for has a direct bearing on what we can ask and
  2. I don’t know if it will work. The price is so low that people might think that there’s something wrong with the place. I care about the house selling because it’s not good to have so many totally empty houses around us.

Nothing in our immediate neighborhood has really been moving at all. Saw a few people riding around looking this weekend while we were out doing yard work, but it’s not looking too good. Our assessment went down this year. Ugh. I don’t feel like we overspent per se, it’s just not a good trend.


Yes, I realize it’s been about a month since I’ve posted anything. It’s taken a while to get adjusted to the whole working from home thing. My brain is full enough as it is and now I have to remember to bring files to and from the office. I’m getting there. Every time I think I have something to write about, I either don’t have time or forget what it was entirely when I sit down.

Bridget is doing so well. She’s growing and growing (like all babies do). These days she’s "talking" more and trying to get up on her knees and move forward. Of course, at 3am this morning I wanted to kill her. She just did not want to go back to sleep. She’s been stubborn since the day she was born. Obviously, she did go back to sleep eventually — I’m just glad I could sleep in and work in my pajamas for a while this morning. I would have been useless if I had to go into the office today.

We had a lot of firsts this weekend: we went to Cape May. It should have only been a little over 4 hours to get there, but it ended up taking closer to seven. Damn I-95.

It was her first hotel stay,

actual beach*,

she met a new friend, Evelyn (my college roommate’s daughter),

it was her first time on a boat (we took the ferry home),

and it was her first trip to Sonic.

We all had a really great time. Brendan didn’t even complain too much about all the walking.

*The beach at the cottage isn’t really a beach


It’s a good thing we got a new computer because the Dell died today. It’s also a good thing that we’ve moved just about all the files that we needed because it was the hard drive that went. There might have been a few things that got lost — but the vast majority of it got saved. The new Mac is pretty awesome by the way. There have been several kinks in the setup, but it’s nothing that we can’t live with. Now, we really have no choice.

However, in my hurry to get out of work (more on that later), I forgot to bring home some software that I needed that did get lost. It will just have to wait until Monday when I’m back in the office. I think I can hold out until then.

I was in a hurry because today was Bridget’s first day at daycare. She’s going to a nice home daycare just 5 minutes from the house. Today, she had the full attention of Mrs. Marie. It was a little bit nutso trying to get out of the house this morning. Of course I couldn’t bring myself to get up at 5:20am, and slept in just a little (5:40. Woo Hoo!). Then the milk for her bottles wasn’t totally defrosted and so we were late getting showers. And of course it was pouring down rain and it was the first day of school for all the neighborhood kids. But we made it. If a little late. That meant leaving work a little earlier than normal to make sure that we picked Bridget up at the right time. We ended up being a little bit early, but that’s better than being a little bit late.

She did well, it seems, and so did I. I got a little teary as we were pulling away in the morning, but earlier everything had been so rushed that I didn’t have too much time to think about it. I ended up feeling a little guilty that I didn’t feel terrible and guilty about it. How messed up is that?

Now, we just need her to fall asleep for the night. She’s a little overtired and fighting us ever so slightly. It’ll be my shift again soon.


Brendan joined the party on January 2, 2004. He's cool now.

Jessica has never been cool. She is OK with that.

And just so everyone is clear, what we say here is not endorsed by either of our employers.