Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Our Not-so-Secret Project

13 September 2005

Now that Jake , Mad Robby, and Atmos have talked about it, I suppose I can mention part of what I’ve been working on for the last few days.

I’ve learned a lot. Specifically:

  1. Mac users can do pair programming remotely with SubEthaEdit. Very, very cool, even if another developer did ask me to unhighlight some text because I’d turned his entire window “Hello Kitty pink.” Each coder, and there can be more than two, has their own color. I just went with the default, which happened to be pink. So, selecting all the text shows up to all other users, and brighter than any changes you’ve made.
  2. Subversion is even cooler than I thought.
  3. ‘rake migrate’ is your friend, even during development. Later, you can get the stable version of the db, remove the migrations-specific table, and remove all the migrations. Until then, it’s really spiff to be able to have an entire team add and drop columns and tables in the comfort of their development environment.
  4. Test-Driven development is great stuff, but one should ensure that tests run before typing ‘svn commit.’ Really. Rails has a fine framework for unit and functional testing. While I’d understood the unit testing, this project gave me some better insight into writing functional tests.
  5. BaseCamp (initially, we used Backpack) is great for managing what still needs to be done on a project.

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BarCamp People in NO

11 September 2005

If you find CSI or CSI:NY too icky, please skip this post. Really. If you’re eating, please close the window and come back later.

Tonight, I read a very disturbing report (not for the squeamish) from one of the people I met at BarCamp. In this case, the analogy to conditions in Iraq wasn’t pulled out of thin air — he’d been there for some time quite recently.

There’s several things that concern me about this. While I can certainly understand, from a pragmatic perspective, putting emphasis on getting bodies out of water (as they’d continue to pollute the water supply), it is just unconscionable to leave the dead this long.

On a cheerier note, there have also been reports of the Red Cross and FEMA seizing medical equipment brought in by volunteers — equipment and supplies actually being transported FOR the Red Cross.

If that doesn’t indicate absolute zero coordination or communication, I’m not sure what does.

So much for trying to help, huh?

In an attempt to make up for some of the harsh subjects in this post, I bring you a non-icky set of photos: Jacob’s photos of the people in the Astrodome. There’s some great photos in there, but I think this is my favorite.

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An Insight into the Non-Evacuees

04 September 2005

For those people who could have evacuated but chose not to, I found something very illuminating today: evacuees were forced to either choose not to be evacuated, or to leave their animals behind to starve to death.

Personally, I want to live in a world where the people who are evacuated are the people who would not choose to leave an animal behind.

Scruffy is my only living link to my late husband; I simply cannot imagine ever leaving the little guy behind, nor can I imagine euthanizing him because it was more convenient for some bureaucrat.

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A Couple Rays of Hope

03 September 2005

After a truly awful week last week, it seems that there are some rays of hope. First of all, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is finally starting to be addressed.

Second, it looks as though there may be some chances to Save Kepler’s. After filing for Chapter 7, it looks as though there may be some other possible investors.

I truly hope that there is some way out of this.

I emailed Clark Kepler after the store closed and received a reply the following day, thanking me for my kind words.

I hope I can soon buy more books there.

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Saturday in Marin

03 September 2005

Today, we decided to go get away from the stressors of the week and drive up to Marin to visit one of our favorite haunts, Sweden House in Tiburon. We sat out on the back deck and had lingonberry pancakes and other yummies.

I looked out over the water and saw a bird swimming. “A duck,” I said (despite the glare and despite the fact that my reading glasses don’t focus at that distance). When going to a restaurant, I wear my reading glasses for the simple reason that I get queasy if my food’s out of focus. Weird but true.

Rick looked at me. “No, that’s a seagull.” I squinted, then saw that it was.

Well, there’s always the Ruby concept of Duck Typing, which I explained. You see, it was acting like a duck….

After that, we went to the Marin French Cheese company and had a small picnic. As we were approaching the picnic area, I saw a group of birds sitting under one of the tree.

“Ducks,” I said.

My mother (the Canadian) said, “No, those are geese.” I looked more closely and saw that they were Rather Large and that I’d been deceived by the brown bodies and dark heads — the majority of geese I’ve seen have been white. I mumbled something about duck typing. Again.

Really, I do know what ducks look like. Honest.

We had some cheese and shared a bit of bread with the birds, including redwing blackbirds. They are so gorgeous in flight.

Some little bright turquose dragonflies darted about, though none were still enough for a photo.

Then, finally, we left for home.

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Ruby on Rails Humor

02 September 2005

Occasionally, one gets pointers and tips about Ruby on Rails coding style in the oddest manner…

From IRC (, #rubyonrails)

steev: validates_penis_length
patpatnz: steev: actually, validates_length_of :penis
steev: o right…

Puns about constraint checking ensued.

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Katrina, Some Photos

02 September 2005

For those of you not into Flickr, you might have missed some of the great photos amateurs have taken. The ones that have most appealed to me are some of those taken by slight clutter, a Red Cross volunteer. My personal favorite happens to be this bit of serendipity.

May many others find the help they need.

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31 August 2005

I really only have one word: wow.

I know some people weren’t able to evacuate because of health or poverty, but I have some thoughts about those who were too stubborn to evacuate.

If you’ve been a city person all your life — as I had been up until I moved to Vermont — you quite literally have no idea How Certain Things Work. And, especially, how bad things can get without infrastructure. I’ve never been stuck in flooding, but I have been snowed in for a week. It’s an analogy, though a flawed one. I had water up to my thighs, but at least it didn’t have bacteria multiplying in it.


I think the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity are going to need extra help.

Updated to add: Shut up and give makes some great points.

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Kepler's, RIP

31 August 2005

I was just getting down to my evening (yes, I know it’s after midnight, but hey) reading of blogs when I read over on that Kepler’s closed today for good.

I’m extremely sad, but I had noticed some of the signs. The other day, mom and I went to Kepler’s, where they were having a “buy three books, get one free” sale. I bought two books on software engineering (from their very lean computer section), mom bought an art book of funky Japanese schoolgirl clothes, and we got Rick the latest from Lois McMaster Bujold.

I started working at Kepler’s on 9/10/01, which means my second day there was 9/11. I can’t think of a more surreal day to work in a bookstore — people came in just wanting to Do Something, to share the fact that they were utterly and completely in shock. Ira Sandperl came and talked to people about peace, as Ira was wont to do. I don’t know if he’s still alive; he was quite old and frail last I saw him.

Clark Kepler is an extremely cool person. In the rush of Christmas season, he’d be in the store, helping everyone. When I had a long register line, he was right there helping with gift-wrapping. He’s another person I’d work for again in a heartbeat (in addition to Marie). I can’t imagine what a heartbreak this is for him and his staff.

Few people, even the locals, realize how influential Kepler’s was and how much change one small bookstore helped cultivate. Ira taught and influenced many people, Joan Baez among them, about peace. If you really looked hard, he and Roy Kepler were the foundation of a great deal of the anti-Vietnam protests that took place in the sixties.

Also, back when the Grateful Dead lived in Menlo Park (about two blocks from where I now reside), they rehearsed at Keplers, though Roy thought they were a bit too noisy. And, of course, even though he will always be thought of as an Oregon writer, Ken Kesey was living in Menlo Park — and frequenting places such as Kepler’s — when his landmark work, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was written, and for good reason: his experience at the local veteran’s hospital was pivotal to the development of the work.

One thing I can say about Kepler’s: it was the only place I’ve ever worked where everything, absolutely everything, I was interested in was useful. Everywhere else I’ve worked, no matter how cool, there were always things that weren’t “relevant” to the job.

May everyone involved land on their feet. I sure know that Clark has some of the best booksellers in the business.

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