Tuesday, January 30, 2007

the airport thing

I am a bit of an odd duck in that I like airports, as opposed to just tolerating them as a way to get there. No, not the security and the lines, of course, but walking around in the mini-malls and seeing how the city views itself. The PHX airport, for example, sells lovely cheap vinyl purses with beads all over that make them very expensive. You can put a lot of bling on a denim jacket and sell it for a couple of hundred bucks there. They have airplanes woven into the carpet, although the walkways connecting the wings are otherwise boring and uninspiring. SFO does great displays of tile, recording devices, scrimshaw - something new all the time. The ELP airport seems much nicer than the city of El Paso. I could spend some time here, and the boots on display are quite elegant.

I like that people are so unselfconscious and one can just sit and stare and no one seems to notice being watched. People eat, drink, talk on the phone or occasionally to each other but don't look at me watch them. People at an office, at the grocery store or other public building are for the most part homogeneous and display behavior appropriate for the place, but it seems to be anything goes at an airport. You see all kinds of dress, hear all kinds of phone conversations that would be embarrassing to hear in any other setting. Because there are so many people and everyone is intent on getting their seat on the big silver bird, it's like no one else is on the floor. It is as close as I will come to being invisible.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

new quilting show

I have only made a few wall hangings, not a real quilt. But my fingers and heart are in the right place, and I look forward to our local quilt show, Pacific International Quilt Festival every year (well, they do have wearable art as well). So I'm happy to tell you to watch for a new quilting program at this link . It should be in March. See you there.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Civilization at the Maple Leaf Lounge

Vancouver has a lovely airport that is reasonably efficient on most days. Prominent Canadian art is displayed amongst the usual airport newsstands, even some great wearable art on display. A 10 foot plush polar bear with long black fake claws is maybe not art, but fun. There’s a Crabtree and Evelyn soap store to drop off the $5 Canadian bill that would otherwise get lost in the dresser. But the airport club lounge that services AirCanada and United is particularly civilized. There are not one but 2 cappuccino machines, they have lovely veggies and fruit as well as the cookies, a big stainless steel refrigerator full of beer, sauvignon blanc and drinks, and at least 20 bottles of assorted spirits in a self service bar. Truly worth coming to the airport early to partake of the free delights. I don’t have to drive for some hours yet! Life is good and I get to sleep in my own bed with my favorite mammals tonight.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ettiquete for a Scientific Meeting

Just my private rant about public behavior:

For most of you, thanks for your interest and friendliness as you walked past my booth and poster. It really makes me enjoy being here. However

Watching you teeter on your spike heels makes my back hurt.

Turning your badge over so I can't see your company name is tacky. Hey, it's a small meeting and I've already figured out where you work.

Spell out the title to your presentation in plain English. I am not here to translate your alphabet soup.

The stone in the stud in your nose should match the sparklies on the back of your jeans.

If you are President and want to bring your St. Bernard onto the show floor, it's OK with me.

If you are Dr. Big Professor who was on my organizing committee for 5 years at the last company, it's tacky to look through me as if you don't recognize me.

If you are Dr. Big Pharmaceutical who tried to stiff my company with the hotel bill in Chile, yes, I still remember.

And finally, don't hunker down on the floor under your poster and immerse yourself in your computer. It makes your butt-crack show, and inquiring minds DON'T want to know about your hairy back. Not to mention being rude to your readers. Euwww.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

To belabor the point

Except for the arsenic water contamination standard, Gary Trudeau has said it all

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A glimmer of hope

I have to admit to watching the Food Channel during the President's address last night. I thought I could handle it a lot better reading it in the paper this morning. Uh-huh.

I read an interview with the new Chair of the House Science Panel, Bart Gordon (D-TN), this morning (thank you, mid-term elections). You will recall the current administration did away with the oversight committee. Gordon commented that he believes the Republicans were stifling some scientific conclusions and looking to staff committees with people who would go along with those conclusions and discourage any opposition. With a top-down Administration, there is a lot of pressure to make conclusions match the preconceived notions of the administration. Here's hoping Gordon's Panel will be able to pick back up the job of reviewing whether or not the Administration is "cooking the books with science." From what I've been reading for the past few years in Science, it's past time for some oversight.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How to bake a chicken

The food section in the local rag was especially good today. Of course, anything I read about food sounds good, especially since I am trying to eat less of it these days. Enchiladas at Casa Vicky's, yum. I'll have to try the Pupusas at Donut Field - I didn't know about those. But the recipie for Zuni roast chicken looks to die for. http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/16425250.htm. (Sorry cuz, you will have to be satisfied with the bread salad - it looks good too.) I don't eat chicken skin, but do know that the inside tastes better when the skin is great.

After salivating over the thought of the chicken, I re-read the recipie. Serves 2-4. 827 calories. 8 tablespoons of olive oil. 1/2 - 3/4 pound of bread. Surely one could make the warm bread part as directed using olive oil cooking spray, use a whole lot less of them and still have a luscious dinner. Whatever are these people thinking??

Monday, January 8, 2007

The ERA and the Speaker of the House

Some 30-odd years ago, I boarded a chartered bus and rode east all night. In the morning the bus disgorged us and I happened on a group of women forming behind an AWIS (Association of Women in Science) banner. Wearing white, we all got an ERA sash (Equal Rights Amendment) sash bespeaking our unity as we surged down Pennsylvania Avenue toward Capitol Hill. Following an afternoon in the sun listening to women (and maybe even some men) tell us why the amendment was needed, I did manage to find my bus, which carried me back to Nashville. Like so many other good plans, this amendment foundered off into oblivion when it failed to be ratified by the requisite number of states.

My sash hung in my sewing room for years. Did it the ERA matter then, does it matter now that it didn't pass? In 1975, women faculty earned 10% less than their male counterparts (http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_development/previous_issues/articles/0210/women_s_salaries_why_the_wage_gap_worsens/(parent)/12096) and for old farts like me, things haven't changed (http://pubs.acs.org/cen/employment/84/pdf/8438salary.pdf, last chart at the bottom). I'm in the bottom 10% of my salary grade, I am sorry to admit to you, and the managerial food chain above my head at this fine company is all male.

But our new Speaker of the House of Representatives is now a woman. No matter that she is so liberal I would have trouble voting for her against another moderate Democrat. Would we have gotten here sooner if the ERA had passed 25 years ago? Maybe not. But I have finally asked my manager for a salary adjustment. And I'm cynically betting that in another 30 years, it will still be the same.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Harbingers of spring

The first robins showed up today. They'll be here a couple of months and then go on to wherever they go. While raking up the peach leaves and stones (we have peach curl), I made the happy discovery of a perfect row of volunteer poppies from last year's poppies.

The hummingbirds are actively working the lavendar and my neighbor's bushes have the pink flowers that spur their mating flights.

Oh, and the pansies are here just because they are so lovely this year.
This is why Fritz and I live in California.

It's too early to be doing this

I've been thinking of doing this for days - a place to capture the sprites and cobwebs from the corners of my head. I need a place to put the links I capture, and post the cool things I encounter in Science. As my thoughts gush out my pores with the flash sweats, I'll catch them and transfer them here. So I'll try out this fad while I'm still with it enough to implement the technology.