Adventures in stupid office building management

I need to get this off my chest.
Borland’s Austin office is located in a big multi-company office building. In the back of the building is a multi-story parking garage. The parking spaces on one side of each row are huge, and on the other side they are very narrow and designated as ‘Compact Cars Only’.
In the morning, the big spaces fill up first for two reasons: they’re on the side where the doors to the building are located, and they’re easy to park in. Of course, since those spaces aren’t marked ‘Big ass vehicles only’, people who get there early, regardless of car size, parks in those spaces.
Those who arrive later in the morning have two choices: park farther away in some of the other big spaces, or a little closer to the door in a narrow space. And of course, by that time, many people park in the closer narrow spaces regardless of the size of their car.
If I want to park in the narrow spaces (I drive a pretty small car, by the way), often the car that’s already there is right up against the dividing line or slightly over it. In this case, it would be impossible to park in the adjoining space without going over the next line. So, instead of leaving 3/4 of a space open, I just pull next to the car that’s already there, which puts me further over the next line. Sometimes, later arrivals continue my pattern of disregarding the lines to make reasonable sized parking spaces, and sometimes the next person leaves the remaining partial parking space on the other side of my car open in order to park in the next designated space (there’s a lesson about personality types in there somewhere).
Well, that was all fine and good before the building management started putting the stickers above on the cars that are parked over dividing lines. It pisses me off to no end that I’m parked over the line in an attempt to work around the management’s stupid arrangement of spaces, and then I get a hostile sounding note from the management for my parking.
I would complain to the building management or to my company’s facilities people, but it wouldn’t serve any productive purpose. I guess this type of ranting is what a blog is good for.

Drama in Pflugerville

As I opened the front door to walk Samuel to school this morning, I found five police cars and two news crews in front of the house. During the night, car thieves had abandoned a car across the street and shot at the police as they fled. The photo below was taken from my next door neighbor’s front yard.

20 Worst Foods in America

Most of the items on this list are no surprise, such as the worst breakfast: Bob Evans Caramel Banana Pecan Cream Stacked and Stuffed Hotcakes. However, the worst drink is from a surprising source:

Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo’d Power Smoothie (30 fl oz)

900 calories
10 g fat
183 g carbs
(166 g sugars)
Jamba Juice calls it a smoothie; we call it a milkshake. In fact, this beverage contains more sugar than two pints of Ben and Jerry’s Butter Pecan ice cream.

Via John Scalzi.

Abortion as art

The big story in the blog world today is about a Yale art student whose senior thesis involves repeatedly artificially inseminating herself and then aborting. The student’s stated goal is to “inspire some sort of discourse.”
What I find interesting, though, is that even at ultra-left MetaFilter, almost all of the commenters find this project distasteful, with frequent statements such as this one: “I’m pretty darn ‘liberal’ when it comes to abortion and all that, but this rubs me the wrong way, though I’m not entirely sure of the reason why.”
The discussion went on for a good 80 comments before someone posted something similar to what I’ve been thinking, which provide a reason for the commenter quoted above:

This art is shocking and provocative but that is not to diminish it. It is not an empty shock to me. It is filled with real and legitimate questions on how abortion and pregnancy works in our society. The way I see it is it is sort of a completly unspoken truce where most Americans don’t really like abortion but they get that women generally don’t take the decision lightly, they wouldn’t get an abortion unless they thought it was really important.
Now in this case a women is getting pregnant and ending the pregnancy for its own sake. The abortion is the point rather than a means to an end (which is vaguely agreed to be having a child later when you can take better care of it) She is asserting and questioning her own right to do this. She is pointing out that this right which is nearly absolute is in a way contingent on the reason behind it. At the same time though, where is the harm? The fetuses were not developed, the body sometimes rejects a fetus. This is a part of life. And what about her feelings, pregnancy is supposed to have a deep bond between the mother and child what is necessary for this to occur? Is this absolute? Is there something wrong when that isn’t there? What does she feel about these children, is she a monster for not thinking what we expect?
We have taken a biological reality and built this mythology around it and it might be that the mythology is an important and necessary part of what it is to be human or it might not be, and this art, I think, actually helps us answer this question.

There’s your hoped-for discourse right there.
UPDATE: Yale now says that this project never happened; it was a ‘creative fiction.’ If so, the artist still achieved her stated goal.


This is from Larry Vaughan, one of my favorite bloggers and someone I like to think of as an internet friend:

I have learned this lesson late in life. When I was young I thought that people who asked for my opinion actually wanted it. I would dig deep into my cerebellum and deliver (sometimes eloquently) my verdict. I’m laughing right now at the folly of it all. This is why most people have never followed my advice; they didn’t want it in the first place.
My new friend has reminded me of the power of attending. The only thing he wants; in fact, the only thing he needs, is to be heard. Not understood. Understanding would be nice, but at this point it’s just the icing on the cake. In telling his story he shares his life. Now two people carry the load.
No advice. No comprehension. Just listening. Not understanding. Not empathy. Just listening. Followed by change.

Side note: As I was preparing this post, I realized I didn’t have a category for this post. Usually when this happens, I just create a new one and make the post the first entry in this category. In this case, however, I couldn’t really think of a good pigeon hole for this post. Interesting.

I am the lake on the plain

I am the wind on the sea.
I am the ocean wave.
I am the sound of the billows.
I am the seven-horned stag.
I am the hawk on the cliff.
I am the dewdrop in sunlight.
I am the fairest of flowers.
I am the raging boar.
I am the salmon in the deep pool.
I am the lake on the plain.
I am the meaning of the poem.
I am the point of the spear.
I am the god that makes fire in the head.
Who levels the mountain?
Who speaks the age of the moon?
Who has been where the sun sleeps?
Who, if not I?
– Celtic poem by Amergin, as recited during The Inner Landscape of Beauty