Frequent Flyer Fairness

Heading back from Newark last weekend, at a flight delay in Chicago.
A Southwest Airliness frequent flyer was ranting at the gate clerk, because a clerk at a different gate had told him that he would be first on the standby list for the flight, and he was now #4. American Airlines frequent flyers had bumped ahead of him. Apparently, Southwest does not do this.
Perhaps the first clerk should have read him the fine print. It’s something American Airlines customers know. I’m a sucker for it — I’ll pay a bit more for AA flights because I know that as a frequent flyer, if there are delays and overbooked flights, I’ll get on the airplane.
Both sets of rules have merit. It doesn’t seem like one set of rules is fairer than the next, so long as you know the rules.
p.s. Mr. Irate got on the plane. Apparently so did a number of others on standby.

Caddo Lake

Spent last weekend in northeast Texas on Caddo Lake. Cypress, blue herons, snowy egrets and turtles, it’s a landscape that is common in next-door Louisiana but unique in Texas.

We were staying in Uncertain, Texas, a town of about 150 who mostly host tourists or avoid life elsewhere. The town was incorporated in 1961 because people wanted to drink while fishing. The surrounding area was “dry”, so a group of households decided to form a town to vote in the ability to drink.
We were hosted by the mayor of Uncertain and his wife; they and friends from the area sat around and told tall tales, in a style that comes from the culture before radio, television, and internet.
Uncertain is about 30 miles south of Atlanta and Queen City, which are unwired by the Northeast Texas Wireless Initiative. Lynn Jones of NETWI joined us for the fish fry.
The region has been a hotbed of city-supported wireless. Underserved by incumbents, they’re taking local initiative to bring broadband to town, and were very active in the fight against the Texas municipal network ban.
The mayor of Uncertain was ambivalent about bringing wireless high-speed internet, and I can see why. People come to be off the grid.
The Caddo Lake community been fighting the next town over, Marshall, pop. 25,000 which wants to siphon more water from the lake for a power plant and its growing population. The threat prompted the local people to organize; the conservation movement is championed by Don Henley of Eagles fame, who grew up in nearby Linden TX (another municipal wireless site).
A major water bill, SB3, which would have added protections for “environmental services”, preserving water for rivers and estuaries, failed to pass the Texas legislature this past session. It passed the Senate and house committee, but timed out on the last day to be voted on the house floor.

Not ignoring you

If you sent me an email in early November and I haven’t answered, I’m not ignoring you. I don’t have the message. Please send it again.
Currently I’m getting email, but without the detailed folder-and-filter system on my laptop. If I’m slow to respond, it’s because the the email is in a big, tangled, pile of goo. Please resend.

Laptop held hostage

My Fujitsu laptop’s in the shop, and the conditions to get it back keep receding off into the future.
When I took it in last week Friday, I thought the problem was the same broken power connection that needed resoldering before. I’d have it back the same day.
Unfortunately, the part itself was broken. Fortunately, they found the $29 part and had ordered it. Unfortunately, the part wasn’t actually in stock. Fortunately, there are other suppliers that carry it. Unfortunately, none of those seem to be in stock either. Fortunately, there’s a brand new version of the $29 remanufactured part. Unfortunately, it costs $250 just for the part, not counting the labor.
Fortunately, the $250 part seems to be in stock, in theory. Unfortunately, the part comes from Sony, which has a reputation for delivery between the time of order and then end of the universe.
The chances of getting my laptop back before Thanksgiving is receding into improbability.
Fortunately, I have a backup computer — an ex-laptop from 1999 with a busted screen, replaced by a really cheap desktop monitor. Unfortunately, it’s running a crufty, never-rebuilt, highly unstable version of Win98 which crashes about 3x per day.
Fortunately, the ex-laptop would probably be a well-behaved Linux machine. Unfortunately, I’m using it as a primary work box, so I’m not going to run the risk of conversion now.
Fortunately, most of my data is on servers. Unfortunately, there are a few email attachments from last few weeks that aren’t on the project workspace.
Fortunately, the shop gave me a cd with the email file. Unfortunately, the drive driver was busted. Fortunately, I was able to reinstall the driver. Unfortunately, their backup didn’t have the attachments. So a major weekend project has been at a standstill for two weekends.
Unfortunately, the crappy desktop monitor gives me eyestrain. Fortunately, it’s probably healthier to spend less time in front of a computer.

Women Don’t Ask

Men graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a Masters’ degree earned $4000 more in their first job out of the program than women did, according to a 2002 study.
It turned out that only 7% of the women had negotiated their starting salary, but 57% of the men had asked for more money. Those who negotiated raised their salaries by an average of $4000.
The striking difference in salary was explained by the willingness to negotiate.
Currently Women Don’t Ask, about women’s reluctance to negotiate.

Back from Seattle

The 10 month old nephews are very easy to amuse – funny faces and air-tosses and pokes with stuffed animals and dances to made-up songs bring gales of laughter. The niece, who is 5 going on 6, performs elaborate song and dance routines, plays monster-and-rescue adventures with elaborate checklists before blasting off to save the day, and looks elegant in pink sparkly things.
Ingy gave me a tour of the new Seattle public library, which is just waiting for the movie where the villains chase the heroes across the ledges and levels.
It was a restful weekend away – nice to sleep somewhere you don’t have responsibility. Which I guess parents don’t get ever.


Usually, when I go for a walk in my neighborhood, I wish I had a digital camera to share the pictures. Tonight the images wouldn’t have come out on film or pixels, at least with my snapshot skills. The air is steamy, the moon is white and half-hiding behind silver clouds, the live-oaks look shaggy and nearly animated, like their cousins in the wizard of oz and the lord of the rings; and the neighborhood’s stage lighting talents are up for awards. Small, yellow footlights along the path above the stairs from streetlevel, lighting the way to the looming white triple decker. Twinkling white strands surround a courtyard, suspended on fences. Yellow living room light glows behind a cavern of bushes. Stray sunflowers grow in stray dirt and rubble in the corner of the street. The globes of the 1930s experimental tower streetlight cast halos against the sky, appear and disappear around corners down the hill.
Some of the chiaroscuro comes from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, which I’ve finally gotten around to reading. May blog more about Sandman upon reflection.


Cleaning is an important part of the weekend. As soon as I’m rested enough to think and see, I’ll declutter the house and pick something else to clean up.
Blog comment spammers are just another kind of vermin. They evoke the same sort of visceral disgust as ants, roaches, and flies. I just downloaded the latest MTBlacklist and cleaned the comments.

If I had a digital camera

I’d take a picture of the roses that are blooming on the rosebush, the small forest of thriving grass that was mowed in the backyard, which was a muddy desert last winter, (fortunately, the grass in the front yard goes dormant over the winter), and the little white flowers whose names I forget, on the backyard bushes.
I wish I had a gardening mentor who would stop by once a season, give a few tips that I could do and digest, and come back again. Would happily trade for semi-pro editing, career counselling, or dinner.

What’s fun about #joiito

I keep the #joiito IRC channel running in the background some chunk of the time, and occasionally join in the conversation
Here’s what I like about it:
* makes me laugh. It’s an opportunity for pointless silliness. Occasionally, people show up and ask “what is the point of this channel.” Occasionally, people talk about “serious topics” and spark real-life projects. Put pointlessness is mostly the point. This is very good, I have way more than enough purpose.
* background noise. Similar reason that I like working and hanging out at the Green Muse. Something about the varied hum, the sense of being in a social space, even as I’m concentrating on something else.
* friendship bookmarks. Don’t quite count people I meet there as real friends and colleagues, yet. There’s a bit of “unbearable lightness” about IRC on its own — people can easily come, and easily go. People get mad at something or other, and leave in a huff — no need to come back, no need to apologize. The measure of realness isn’t how often you meet in 3d, it’s obligation and reciprocity over time. Reality is taking on some project, or putting someone up in a strange town, or helping in a pinch. The friendship bookmarks are real, though. Enough context over time that reality can happen.