Monthly Archives: March 2009

The Great Butterfly Massacre

The Great Butterfly Massacre
Photo taken by Ms. Jen at Chiraco Summit with a Nokia N79.

Every butterfly and its brother must have been migrating today across the desert today. As I was driving home from Arizona about 15 miles before Desert Center on Hwy. 177 until Chiriaco Summit (about 34 miles in total) on I-10, waves and waves of butterflies were flying low across the roads and highways.
It was beautiful and sad. Beautiful to see hundreds and thousands of butterflies all at once. Sad to see so many meet their deaths on the grill of my car.

Ada Lovelace Day :: Cousin Lynn

Cousin Lynn
Photo by Ms. Jen at the family Easter lunch 2007.

For Ada Lovelace Day, I would like to celebrate the achievements of my Cousin Lynn and the other women of her generation in tech.
According to family lore, in the early 1960s, Cousin Lynn (aka Lynn Langtry), age 19, took a administrative position at a company in Los Angeles. The company needed people to help punch out cards that ran the programs on the computer and Lynn volunteered, punching cards turned into learning how to program the computer.
From this fortuitous beginning as a programmer, in 1970, Lynn took a position with Computer Sciences Corporation, contracting for the US government, programming computers in such exotic locations as Hawaii, Alaska and Iran before the fall of the Shah.
As a child, I knew that my mom’s best cousin was an adventurer and lived a secret classified life. As a teenager, when Lynn returned to California, I knew her as my mom’s super cool cousin Lynn who had a job that no other woman I know had. Lynn worked for NASA! But it wasn’t until I started to get involved in the web in 1994-96, that I really got to talk to Lynn about programming, tech, and computers.
One of my favorite conversations with Lynn about programming was about 2000, she was grousing about how tediuos XML seemed, in a class she was taking. She, the woman with nearly 40 years of programming experience, asked my opinion on XML. We both agreed that it was a good data structure, but felt that all the hype of the time was just hype.
Lynn has been a big supporter of my choosing a career in tech and whenever we get together at Easter or Thanksgiving we talk about what is up in the web world, even though she has been retired to a serious “career” in golf and the like for the last 5 or so years.
Given how hard it has been to take up web development and programming as a woman in the 1990s and 2000s, I greatly admire Lynn and her whole generation of women (& men) who pioneered the computer programming field, who worked hours on end in windowless basements in government buildings in Alaska, who worked programming in Tehran, who had opportunities to create a new field.
Thanks, Ada. Thanks, Lynn. Thanks to all the thousands of other women who are programmers and have been an encouragement to many women.

Mr. Kyle’s Wild Desert Ride

Mon 03.23.09 – This afternoon a group of us went offroading: Joe Hanen (on motorcycle), Joe Maxwell (on quad), Kyle Vestermark (Mr. Toad in the lead Tyrex), Cayden Vestermark (as Mole in the lead Tyrex), Christine Woods and I (in the following Tyrex). We went from Shea Road (Parker Speedway) to the Bill Williams and Planet Ranch and back in the Arizona Sonoran Desert.
It really was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, even odder with me taking photos every 30 seconds with the Nokia N79. The photos were exported into Quicktime with iPhoto and then uploaded as a movie to Flickr.

Today, The Drive to Arizona

All photos taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N79 and made into movie form with iPhoto.

Sun 03.22.09 – Drive out to Paker, Arizona to see la familia. Off and on raining while partly sunny in the desert. Overall, nice four hour drive, lots of grass and wildflowers in the LA/OC area, but most of the flowers were gone by the time I got to the desert.

Dear March,

I hope all is well, but I am concerned about you.
March, I hate to break this to you, but you seem to be confused this year. I know that you know this and I know that I know this, and so do the other 16 million folk who have lived in SoCal for longer than a couple of years, but …
March, June Gloom is *supposed* start in June, or mid-May at earliest. Please tell the fog and inversion layer to go away. Yes, go away.
March, you, along with February, are the two months that I brag about to non-SoCal folks. Both of you are usually delightful and glorious, warm-ish, sunny, with a few storms that rumble quickly through and leave the mountains draped in white, which is stark contrast to the same two months in many other places in the northern hemisphere.
March, don’t let me down. Please either tell the clouds to rain or to go away.
Thanks, jen ;o)

Happy Norouz! Equinox! Spring has Sprung!

Happy New Year to all the folks who celebrate it on the Equinox!
All Colbert snarkiness aside, President Obama has given a Norouz address, and here is the wikipedia article on Nowruz.
New Year used to be celebrated at the spring equinox in Europe but it was changed over to January 1 by the Romans and finalized in various other cultures of Europe by the 1700s. Given how many of our holidays have their roots in the agricultural calendar of neolithic Eurasia and pre-Roman Europe, I would prefer that our New Year was celebrated with the advent of spring rather than an arbitrary date picked by Rome. Besides, spring is much more naturally festive than January in the northern hemisphere.
Happy New Year!