The kinds of conversations on the Internet that recur and recur and never end

  • How people arrange their financial accounts with their significant other.
  • What kind of car people drive and why they like it or hate it.
  • What personality type people are in some system, and whether that system rocks/sucks/is scientifically valid/is total bullshit.
  • [Added 9/22] What kind of houseware people own, or wish they owned, or have inherited, or how little they care about any of this.

This list to be added to the next time I end up in one of these.

Dear social networks

Dear Facebook,

You know all those people with whom I have mutual friends? The ones you like to suggest I befriend? Did you ever wonder if there might be a reason why I am not friends with those people?

Please stop telling me who you think I should be friends with, or suggesting that my friends need more friends.

Also, please stop telling me who to poke. That sort of thing is best left to those of us with a speck of human judgment.


Dear OKCupid,

Thanks for telling me, on my receipt of a message from a new sender, that you think we both like “Vegetarian”, “Ender’s Game” and “Hiking.” Because there’s no possible way I could figure that out for myself.

Also, “you both like Vegetarian” is not grammatical.

Adjectives are not Nouns

Is anyone else annoyed by the way social networks seem to be positioning themselves as knowing far more than their users do about who their users want to interact with?

When you say “as in”

” ‘With any luck we will be able to ftp some suitable software and get it running on the Tera.’
‘The Terror?’
‘Tera. As in Teraflops.’
‘That does me no good at all. When you say “as in” you are supposed to give me something more familiar to relate it to.’ “

I got a Portland Water Bureau Drinking Water Quality Report in my mailbox today. There’s a section where they list contaminants, including Radium, which is measured in picocuries per liter. There’s also a “Definitions” section which defines picocuries per liter, among other things. The definition is:
“Picocurie is a measurement of radioactivity. One picocurie is a trillion times smaller than one curie.”

Note to the PWB: please see the above Cryptonomicon excerpt for my reaction to this definition.

Peevishly honored

I got linked by Arnold Zwicky!

The trackback ended up on the first entry in that month, because his link doesn’t lead to the entry itself, but rather to all entries for the month of August, of which that one appears to be first, but is actually the last. In blogging “the last shall be first”, I suppose.

And now I’m peevishly complaining about someone blogging about my peeveblogging. But I’m still not peeveblogging about peeveblogging about peeves.

The fifth law

…or maybe the zeroth. :)

My boss added a 5th law of PMing today:
5. If you think you just received everything you need to move forward, chances are good you’re wrong.

A moment ago, I was sitting, carefully removing pumpkin puree from my hand blender with a finger, and wondering how many other people like (plain) pumpkin enough to eat puree off an implement. This is fairly flavorful pumpkin — I’ve definitely had pumpkin that’s bland enough I wouldn’t eat it plain — but I suspect the desire to eat any kind of pumpkin plain is not that great in most people. Add sugar and spice and all that’s nice and it’s a different story, of course.

In other news, I’m getting comment-spammed so badly that I basically can’t take the time to find any new “good” commenters out of the mess. So if you’ve left a comment recently and not seen it show up, sorry, it went in the dustbin along with the hundreds of spam comments. Mail me if you need to get approved.

Laws of Project Management

I wrote this as a little light work joke, but it’s funny in part because these situations do tend to keep cropping up…

The Laws of Project Management

1. There is no spec.
     1a. If there is a spec, it will change as soon as you start work.
2. There are never as many resources as the project requires.
3. Things are very urgent when people tell you what the due date is, but not when you need something from them in order to meet it.
4. Whatever it is, they needed it yesterday.


According to Michael Pollan, rocket is also the “proper American name” for arugula:

It is true you might want to plant iceberg lettuce rather than arugula, at least to start. (Or simply call arugula by its proper American name, as generations of Midwesterners have done: “rocket.”)

Arugula is the Italian name for it, so I’m not exactly sure what people have against it. Zucchini and broccoli (hardly pretentious vegetables) also have Italian names. Lots of American favorite foods are Italian in origin — pizza and pasta, anyone? Well, unlike zucchini and broccoli (and pizza and pasta), it is often expensive, and since it is expensive and sounds foreign, its existence must clearly be at the insistence of liberal yuppiehood. (It probably helps that Italian is now also associated with Starbucks and other gourmet coffee brands, as I presume it wasn’t when zucchini, broccoli, pizza, and pasta became part of American culture.)

Dan commented on the LJ feed of my blog on the same thing Pollan is talking about:
You know how arugula is the new metonymy for all things liberal yuppie? I doubt that’d be the case if we called it “rocket”.

My response was:
Maybe I’ll start calling it rocket. (But then I think people will mocket (ha) by calling it ‘roquette’.)

As it turns out, it actually is called roquette too.

I enjoyed the article a lot — I love the thought that some of the White House’s South Lawn could be turned into a Victory Garden of sorts. I don’t agree with everything that Pollan suggests, but it’s a great batch of ideas to assess. And it has this amusing tie-in to my last entry. Win!