Sunday, February 21
Three laps around Prospect Park with a weaker headwind on the uphill, then I stopped for groceries and fit two gallons of milk into the bicycle basket, which made steering sluggish. Afterwards I watched “Letters from Iwo Jima” which was really neat because it tells a story from World War II in which the viewer’s empathy is given to the enemy.
2.75h Letters from Iwo Jima
Monday, February 22
Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule — Insight into why engineers dislike meetings, and the cultural difference between “makers” and managers regarding meetings.
Tuesday, February 23
I kept waking up through the night, which is unusual for me. There is a fair amount of tension at work and other open questions in my life, so I am thinking the subconscious is unusually bothered right now. I woke up dreaming that I was at a party gorging on a smorgasbord of delicious, sweet, and colorful home-made baked goods. I have had these sorts of dreams lately: on another occasion we were at some legendary restaurant and after the feast of dinner I was eager for dessert, but I woke up before dessert.
At any rate, flex hours are a blessing for productivity: if someone has a rough night they can sleep in a bit and just get a late start, rather than taking a sick day. But throughout the morning I felt hung over.
In the evening I made it to my fisrt NYC Yelp event: tacos at The Loading Dock. I made two new acquaintances while enjoying some tasty tacos and free beer. Unfortunately, Mei couldn’t make it.
Wednesday, February 24
I “shipped” a nice feature for our systems management software at work, which will make it easier to request server reboots and other services from our data centers. I then set about coordinating how to deploy the feature. In the evening I did laundry, and watched TV while folding.
Pushups: 35 + 40 + 25
1h Daily Show
1h Colbert Report
Friday, February 26
Due to the snow storm, we didn’t go out as we might have, ordering in some food instead.
Saturday, February 27
After brunch, we spent some time at the Library, but then hustled home so Mei could get in touch with her family as we watched the would-be tsunami roll into Hawaii. Later in the evening we went to see “Invictus” which is an uplifting retelling of how Nelson Mandela won the Rugby World Cup, with a little help from Matt Damon. Afterwards, we stumbled upon a French Bistro type place, where Mei had tartar, I had sausages and beers, we both had dessert, and together we enjoyed a badly needed night out.
I posted a link which has a wonderful graphic illustrating the discrepancy between what the government recommends that we eat, and what the government subsidizes. This opened up the question as to whether government interference in the free market was a good idea, so I offered my understanding and opinion:
Michael Pollan explains the situation well in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” . . . because agriculture yield and prices are highly volatile, it is desirable to balance out the wilder potentially-devastating-to-farmers price fluctuations. Historically the Department of Agriculture did this by buying crops when prices were low and storing them for sale when prices were high.
During the Nixon administration there was a shortage of affordable meat, so the government moved to a flat subsidy of certain crops to maximize food production. It worked, but today we are dealing with the unintended consequences.
I think it is good for the government to regulate food safety and to provide food stamps for poor people. I suspect that with the contemporary globalized food system that price stabilization is a lost cause, and less of a concern, because the overall market is larger.
I do like the “soda tax” idea.
So, I occasionally get anxious when I perceive some trend in word usage, especially when it seems like hyper-correction. I swear that in the past few years everyone replaced “social” with “societal” and in the past few months I swear that everyone (that I correspond with) has started saying “as per” instead of . . . say, “per” . . . for example:
“I did the job per your instructions.”
“I did the job, as you instructed.”
Has lately become:
“I did the job, as per your instructions.”
I just saw a work e-mail where someone used “as per” in two consecutive sentences and I said “there has to be a way to track this.”
And there is a way. A very crude way: Google Trends.
I wasn’t able to find anything at first: “as per” is dwarfed by “as” and “per” but I confined my search to the past 12 months, then the United States . . . then . . . California:
|San Jose, CA, USA
|Sacramento, CA, USA
|San Francisco, CA, USA
|Pleasanton, CA, USA
|San Diego, CA, USA
|Irvine, CA, USA
|Los Angeles, CA, USA
It is probably just a statistical blip for an incomplete corpus but at least for the moment I feel a little better to see some data demonstrating a measured spike in usage of “as per” in the Silicon Valley . . . I might not be as crazy as I suspect.
Is “as per” bad usage? It certainly annoys me. Some technical writers are grappling with the issue, and it sounds as if English craftspeople prefer to avoid using this weirdly redundant mish-mash of Germanic-Latin.
On the radio they are talking about the Census and taking calls from people on the topic: “What my name means to me.”
My surname is Howard, but if my grandfathers had followed convention my surname would be Holmgren. Back in the day the man who carried my Y chromosome married a woman whose surname was Howard, and he took her name for his own to avoid discrimination against dumb Swedes.
I have sometimes wondered about changing the name back to Holmgren, but it hardly seems worth the effort. There is no widespread anti-Swedish prejudice to stand up against in solidarity, and I have no special allegiance to patriarchy.
It seems that most Howards I meet are African American. I doubt they took that surname by marrying English. As best I can guess, their ancestors took their surname, as Howard University did, from Major General Oliver Howard, who fought in the Civil War, and later promoted the welfare of former slaves and war refugees as Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau.
Perhaps there is even a little solidarity to be had in retaining a surname chosen by people who, to this very day, face discrimination.