Traffic engineering your life away


Multimodal is not such a hard word.

You get to a airport somehow, you leave an airport somehow. Most of them, in the US, the only answer is private car. I suspect the rental car co's are all for it. Portland's MAX being right in the airport is kinda rare, but (contrary to this article) actually can link a traveller from plane to Amtrak, as well as most places in town. Wen I was consulting, I found that mostly I needed stock in Hertz Rental just to leave the airport.

Morality play

I have a hard time with discussing ethics and morals colloquially. Here are some useful definitions from dictionary.com.

Ethics: the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics.

Morals: of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical: moral attitudes.

People use these two terms interchangeably, but they aren't. If I can believe that something is right or wrong, I have morals. Mine may not be the same as yours, but I have them. Morals are personal. Ethics are societal, as they are an agreed upon (if sometimes unwritten) set of rules for the group. Ethics for one group may not be the same as another.

this morning i read this article on animal morality: http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/mark-rowlands-animal-morality/

The honey posted a video recently on perception, which bounced between the physics of light and philosophy (do other people see things the same way I do). This article approaches the same issue from the other end. Do animals act morally?

From watching the Chilean dog pull his companion off the highway, yes. He was moved to do so at great risk to himself. He may not be able to articulate it - those pesky canine vocal cords- and I doubt there is a code of doggy ethics outside a single pack, but morals? That dog has 'em.



This article started out making me feel, well, legitimized, or at least not alone - the whole notion of being a label, and particularly that label, has made my skin crawl for thirty-mumble years.  It took a long time for me to not visibly bristle when people assume The Honey is my 'better half' or duly wedded or however they phrase it.  I've always assumed that it was a fine institution for those who want it, but I wasn't interested in being institutionalized.  This hasn't changed with the rounds of same-sex folks hitching up.  I'm happy for them, and the article linked above shows the author coming to grips with the terms as endearments.

But then, she got over the baggage around the words to actually have the ceremony a decade ago.  The Honey and I have been together twice that, and I haven't. 

Women's soccer (yet another try)

I've had about 4 years out of the last 35 when I didn't play soccer. For a while, it was a year round thing on several co-ed teams. I'm a little overboard. But the first match I could be bothered to pay to go see was the Women's World Cup in 2003, which was the first international gals match close enough to home that my buddy Sarah and I could drive to go see. As I described to a team mate then, men's soccer seemed to be all about how much they could game the rules - fouls, faking injury, etc were just part of the match. The gals, however, just wanted to play.

Since then, we've had several national women's leagues start and fail. Considering the Olympic successes of Hamm and company, we can see we have the talent, but not the culture - how many years has that one talented person held so many records? If we want to continue to have that success, we need the culture. And on top of simply love of sport, women need more role models in all fields - sports, science, business, arts - we've got thousands of years of women hunkering down and getting the necessities taken care of while the histories more or less ignored them or gave the credit for their results to whatever male was handy - when they had time to do anything for the betterment of more than just their family. Imagine what the additional brainpower could have done for the state of the species.*

So for the Good Of Humankind, we need a pro women's soccer league to inspire and aspire. But it hasn't made business sense for a variety of reasons. With the latest incarnation, a better business model is being proposed, but it does depend on putting butts in the stands.

I'd never heard of a supporters group before I moved to Portland. The 107th creates a whirlwind of support and excitement for the MLS Timbers team - holy crap those games are fun; even when the team plays poorly, the stands are a-rocking. The 107th is the reason the season tickets are really hard to come by.

The formation of such a group for the Thorns team started about the time they announced there would be a women's team in Portland. Before we even knew who the allocated national team players would be. And, like any group composed of multiple humans with differing goals and tolerance, the bickering started immediately. However, I've got to agree with this thought


"We may not have time to grow as the Timbers Army did. ...with the women’s league? If history is any indication, I’d guess we have two, maybe three years at the very outside to build enough support for this club that will financially justify its continued existence. And in that time, supporters groups in the other seven cities must do the same.
I have no idea what soccer support looks like in Rochester, but here,right now, it looks like a bunch of people yelling at each other on Twitter.
[...However] I met a 14-year old girl named Mo tonight. As far as I’m concerned, she and she alone is the founder of whatever this group becomes. She is our Nevets. You can all buy her a beer in about seven years.
She’s the reason that we’re putting this thing together. She and every other young girl who is looking forward to seeing her favorite player take the pitch at Jeld-Wen."

Young Mo is a friend of mine too, and I've got one of her starter-scarfs on order. I hadn't been willing to go to the kickoff meeting last night - I'm too busy, I'm stressed from other things in my life, I don't need to sit around listening to these folks who have been yelling on twitter. Quite honestly, I am in, no matter what the passionate ones agree to, as long as they eventually agree.

But now I'm reconsidering. Perhaps I should get in to these meetings, and make the time, since it may be the moderate ones who drill down to "what actions do we have to take" in order to get this off the ground.

And so we get the fans together, and the powers that be are tentatively convinced, and the players are taking care of each other :

Hopefully, by April 13th we'll. have the start, or restart, of something really exciting.

*Your opinion may differ, mine is religious in nature; which means I'm not listening to dissenting, heathen views, don't bother trying to reason with me.

Books: a trip to Powells

Over the week, the honey and I went to Powells. We had (and still have) Xmas gift cards to burn through because my sister knows me kinda well. Anyway, since I had not been having much in the way of brain, and have been burning through the Johnny and the Bomb series, I walked up to the Gold room info desk to have a conversation that went like this.

Me: Help. I need some popcorn to read, and I've run out of Pratchett. Again.
Counter guy: Okay, have you heard of McCaffery?
Me: I have it all, including the romances, and some of her son's work.
CG: Mercedes Lackey?
Me: Got it all.
CG: Jim Butcher?
Me: Yup.
Guy on a ladder stacking books: Zelazney?
Me: I...think I have it all.
GOLSB: yeah, it's kinda hard to tell with Zelazney.
CG: I suppose you've read Doug Adams...(names a bunch of other authors)
Me: (nodding)
CG:Steven Brust?
Me: The Phoenix Guards? That's not exactly popcorn.
CG: Good point, but he's got another series....which I'm failing to come up with
CG: (waves arm)
Me: (noticing tats) Oh havens, you've got a TARDIS forming on your arm!

(Digression during which he takes off his hoodie so I can see his left arm. They are all just outlined, but he has a bunch of starships lightly inked up the sleeve. Enterprise, Serenity...i didn't see Moya, but others were there.The very base of the tardis has a bit of blue on it, and he tells me he's getting it colored this month.)

CG: Zimmer Bradley?
Me: I never got into Witchworld.
CG: No, that's Norton. Bradley did Darkover.
Me: I've read some of each ....I think... Which is the one with all the redheads?
CG: How about Glenn Cook.
Me: uh. I don't think so. Gimme a bit of his series?
CG: Human private eye in a D&D world. Mickey Spalane sort of mystery.
Me: I'm not remembering this one. Let me go find it.

He walked me to the bookshelf, and we continued coming up with authors I had read. It's fun being a prolific reader, except when I am in dire need of a new plot, and it seems I've already read everything.

For some reason, this story amuses me more because when I walked up to the Counter Guy, he was polite but distant in the "it's my job to guide people who don't get my passion" way. I don't have pink hair or wear StarWars hoodies or jewelry in the shape of little dragons. I look like a woman approaching (probably in) middle age, if athletic, in business attire, and probably like death warmed over from the cold I'd had all week. But I got a good deal of spark from this guy in about two sentences. I have SciFi cred; I speak the language.

Books: Gulp by Roach

Gulp is a book that starts with sniffing beer and ends with Elvis's constipation, or at least you might *hope* it ends at the constipation chapter - there's actually one more ....uncomfortable chapter after it. In Mary Roach's forward, she claims "I thought this would be gross, but its really interesting. Okay, and maybe a little gross." P19

Roach has previously written about the historical scientific studies on human copulation. On the uses and activities of cadavers. On the inventions and training required for space exploration. Each of these books has been absolutely fascinating, extremely hilarious, and teasingly educational. The footnotes rival Sir Terry Pratchett. I particularly like the one that is obviously a response from a brand name blender manufacturer. This is not dry boring textbook work, but it is a study of the alimentary canal, of how (and what) we eat.

Questions you are dying to ask the scientist who study this stuff but would heasitate as being off topic, get asked. To the sensory consultant for the brewing industry, how would she choose between an IPA and a Budwiser. "I'd get Bud... People pooh pooh bud. It's an extremely well made beer. It's clean, it's refreshing. If you are mowin gather lawn and you come in and want something refreshing and thirst quenching you wouldn't drink the IPA" p 29. Now me, in that situation, I'd have lemonade. Beer is for flavor, otherwise why put up with the downsides?

There are interesting factoids and myth-shattering. Saliva is apparently really vile. When the scientists study it (and the variety of ways they extract are curious), they need to get it capped off ASAP, as once its out of your own mouth, it is not only taboo but nauseously smelly. Also, the notion that food smells make your mouth water is erroneous. The feeling is an artifact of having attention to the interior of the mouth - you are suddenly aware of the spit. Like you are now, after having read this paragraph. Sorry.

Once you learn of how something's actually work, you may have other ideas, or wonder if other notions occurred to inventors, which lead us to delightful sentences like "Laundry detergent is essentially a digestive tract in a box" p 109

"People who's saliva contains a lot of salt are slightly oblivious to it in their food" p 113

"We sealed off the cloaca of a dead python and inserted an airline down the esophagus." As you do, when wondering if a snake would bust from the struggles of the prey. Now I'm picturing python balloons. P175

The phrase"you don't know shit" can be refuted with the diagram on page 307. There are times I'd wished to have a common vocabulary so I could describe something, and apparently, so do excretologists. Now you know.

Not only is the evolution and functionality of the entire digestive tract covered, so is the maintenance and repair, including the overuse of antibacterials and the now burgeoning notion of replacement of micro flora. "Kissing is a less aggressive form of bacterial transplant....Periodontically speaking, an affair might be viewed as a form of bacteriotherapy." P 323

The spoilers above should be counted as teasers - the book contains a lot of great information delivered in Roach's usual witty style. Highly recommended.

Good advice

”The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things… The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things, and make them unimportant.” Doctor Who

Matters of the Heart

On Heart Disease (dedicated to my mom, as she did ask the question)

My mom replied to the email that I had sent her from the middle of a scientific lecture.   "Your sister  was 7 pounds, and your oldest brother was 8 lbs-something.  Your other brother was 9 pounds 12 oz, and then you were 9 lbs 2oz.  It should be on your birth certificate.  What does that have to with your heart?"

To answer that question, I want to relate 2 parables, a night in a bar, and some recent scientific findings.  

The first is the Parable of the Flowers.  Both dandelions and orchids are flowers, and do all the things that flowers do.  However, the dandelion can put its taproot down just about anywhere and grow.  Near desert, forest meadow, veggie garden, cracks in sidewalk - it doesn't care. The orchid, on the other hand, requires the right temperature, the right soil composition, just enough water and sunlight, or else it is a sad looking plant.  If it does get these, boy does it bloom.  Some folks can be compared to these types.  The dandelion folks will dig in where ever they find themselves.  The orchid people won't thrive unless they are in a narrower range of conditions.

The lecture was trying to explain how we can tell who the orchids are, in the context of heart disease, and with a pint of McMinnimen's oatmeal stout in one hand.  I volunteer at an event called Science Pup, which basically takes a scientist, puts them on stage with a microphone in one hand and a beer in the other, and has them present for an hour before letting the patrons of the establishment ask questions.  It's the local instance of the international phenomenon of Cafe de Scientifique, where, as I understand it, the scientist to audience ratio tends to hover at 1:50.  McMinnemen's Bagdad, where we hold many of the events, is a pub theater, and holds about 600 people.  We regularly fill to capacity.  Apparently we're commonly putting a good show.

Heart disease is getting more and more common - 1 in 4 deaths in the US are related to it.  Some graphs and maps our speaker, Dr Kent Thornburg from OHSU, showed where the trends were going.  Much of the country's heart disease victims are centered around areas of generational poverty.  It's the recovery from the civil war economy, not the southern cooking that gives the southeast it's larger share of heart disease - the traditional foods are quite similar in Louisiana and France, yet the French have a extremely low rate of disease.  France has not had the same multigenerational stresses.

Another parable: your heart health can be compared to a building's engineering.  How does a building stay standing up?  Well, it's foundation give a stable platform.  The. walls lean against each other, and support the weight of a roof. If its over a certain height, rebar inside the walls provide stiffening.  Any one of these objects can fail, and need repair, but if the foundation is cracked and the rebar rusts and the walls begin to crumble, sooner or later you don't have a building, but a pile of rubble.   We need several layers of reinforcement to ensure in times of high wind, or earthquakes, the building won't fall due to the unaccustomed strain.<

Similarly, the human heart can take a lot of stresses, but can be overtaxed for the amount of reinforcement it has.  Commercials have made folks aware of heart healthy Cheerios and the like, but why is this an issue to some folks, and not others?  How can we predict how much stress your heart can take?
The researchers have honed in on your birthweight as an indicator, and the cause, believe it or not, is linked to your grandmother's nutritional health.

Here's the cycle.  At conception, you are the result of your father's sperm, which is created during his puberty, and your mother's eggs, which were created when her mother was carrying her.  If gramma was in an era of tough times, and did not get great nutrition, those eggs are stressed - no rebar in our building walls.  Then when mom conceives, if she's not eating healthy food and supplying nutrition to the babe, we loose a little foundation.  You can most easily see this generational echo in the baby's birth weight.
Note that this denotes the genetic predilection for heart disease, but the cards you are dealt as a gamate are not the entire story.  The first 1000 days of nutrition (from conception to 2 years old) has a lot to do with it, as does the epigenetics  - a stressed environment leads to a twitchy child growing into an adult with hypertension.  Obesity from sedentary lifestyles and modern convenience foods may bring on diabetes.  Smoking and drinking are other factors that may shake the walls of the heart.

But as a 9lb baby, I probably won the lottery as it goes for probability of heart disease.  I seem to be a dandelion.  My honey, assisting at the same lecture and texting his mother for the same data, weighed in at 6lbs, and so has a higher probability of heart disease - indeed, he's on cholesterol medications, and is being encouraged to change his diet, since he and I exercise a great deal, don't smoke, and aren't excessively heavy.  He's an orchid, and will need more ideal conditions to continue to thrive.

Food being a factor he can still tweak the diet for better health - Dr Thornburg said he had never met with a nutritionist that would disagree with the basic heart healthy diet.  Leafy greens and fruits, fiber and whole grains, and fish & low fat proteins - in appropriate portion sizes, these are the buttresses for supporting your heart, regardless of your birthweight foundation.  So we're eating more beans and steel-cut oatmeal - we're already big fans of salads - to support the structure the household orchid needs.  I may not require it, but it'll certainly not hurt!

So what was your birthweight, and how's your heart?

(no subject)

Don't fix what ain't broke.
A leopard can't change his spots
That's just the way he is.


I remember being a young professional back in the Stone Age, and taking the Meyers Briggs personality survey, and being told that I now had self knowledge about how I would always be. Then I took it again a few years later, and the results were quite different.

I had a boss who was a nice enough guy, I guess, but a terrible boss. I have to say a lot of what I know about project management I learned from watching him and doing the exact opposite (within the bounds of PMP's little black book and all). He sent me to various soft skills training and had our team do several rounds of interpersonal communication exercises, and I began to feel first like he thought we weren't performing, then decades later realized its because he wasn't.

Anyway, one of these classes or whatnot had a MB type survey and my results came back saying I had the personality of a secretary or something, which sounded a bit off to me. I asked the instructor, "ok, I can see some of these traits in me, but I'd rather do project management, so how do I change?" I was told that this was who I was, and it wasn't something that could change.

I kinda checked out at that point. People change, and they change dramatically. Sometimes it's on purpose, and they backslide, and then change more. Sometimes it's imposed upon them. People change from being drunks to being Nobel laureates, or the other direction. People practice skills and if rewarded by them, change their confidence and desire to do more of the skill. What makes you happy and content today is not the same thing that is the boundaries of your comfort zone tomorrow.

For instance, as a kid, I was the last person picked for sports teams - nerdy, bad hand-eye coordination, slow. I did like doing things *with* people, so I got on a rec soccer team and practiced and played (and got glasses, which helped) and was eventually captain of the girls team in high school. I was never pro team material, but here I am decades later and I am still playing, and my team mates seem to think I'm an asset.

For all the soccer, I was not a runner - I played fullback, which meant mentally figuring out what the opposition was going to do and blocking them - smarter, not faster. But in my 40's, I took up running with the Couch to 5k program, and sucked at it for a year, but this morning, I was out on a 6 mile run through the neighborhoods, listening to TEDtalks on earphones for company, and came across this presentation:


I stuttered and hated giving class presentations, but now I volunteer to give training at work, and am good at it. How did I get there? Practice, and a desire for change. Fake it til I make it, until I am who I wanted to be.

Who do I want to be next?

Why give birth control to the geese?

This article bothered me

I don't dispute the facts, but the interpretation.  There are a lot more wildlife  out there since man stopped clear cutting ALL the forests and shooting the so called varmint predators.  Human construction and transportation runs over lots of habitat and migration routes, and the one piece this article doesn't point out is that there are more of us as well.  The problem as the author sees it is too many critters getting in our way, rather than too many humans.