Social Media Overload

So, I’m at Pycon. I figure I should report back, mostly to the GDG Academy people, since Python is a big deal in K12 education.

But there’s the rub. Where do I post? Since GDG Academy is on Google+, that seems obvious. But in the community page? On my page? Probably not, since I don’t “own” those spaces. So my own blog makes sense. Then post to Google+ (both home and the academy?) or send email to the GDG list or Tweet?

Damn. Let’s see how it goes. At least I’m pretty sure I won’t need to post to Ravelry.

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For now

My father died yesterday morning.

And since then, I’ve needed to write something about it. After all, one of my favorite quotes is from Anne Morrow Lindberg:

I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.

But Dad’s been sick for a long time. Since his Parkinson’s came with dementia, he’s been gone in many ways for years. (Parkinson’s is ugly. Thanks Sergey Brin for what you’re doing to stop it.) When I called on Christmas 2009, it was clear the phone confused him too much, so I stopped calling after that. I last visited in June and while there was some time when he knew who I was, just being there exhausted him out as he strained to figure out who I was and how to entertain me.

But now he’s really gone.

For real.

For good.

Forever.

But that little Christian voice is reminding me “For now.”

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Consolidation Time

So, I’ve been keeping blog entries on the Mercer Rescue Walk site (walkertracker.com — a pretty cool site for those who will take any encouragement to walk a few extra steps a day) and at Ravelry (for Sock Madness 2011) and since the walkertracker site has been reset once already and I’ve lost everything, I figure it’s time to get things back where they belong.  I think I can backdate posts, so this might appear after I move the ones over from those other places.  We shall see.

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Where the Good Stuff Went

Steps Walked: 30,294 (23,952 at moderate pace)

Inside the British Museum

Yes, I suppose walking over the Thames (4 times) might be more impressive to a walking audience, but you can only get shots like this (inside the British Museum) on foot.  We did a walking tour of the museum, which was more listening than walking, but, on reflection, it did hit all the tour book sites, including the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles (they don’t like to call them that though!), and much nicer pieces of the Mausoleum than are left in Turkey.

Really.  The Mausoleum is basically just a large lot with a bunch of chunks of marble:

Shot of The Mausoleum Ruins

Bodrum, Turkey

The British Museum has some of the statues that were at the top of the building:

From the British Museum

It does lead to the question of who really should have these antiquities.  When we were in Athens, they made a strong argument that the Elgin Marbles were looted, but in London, there’s a completely different story.  I figure it’s a good thing I don’t have to be the one to make the decision.

Another walking tour around Parliament at night really added steps.  Along with seeing the big fancy lit buildings and Lambeth Palace, we got to wander through alleys still lit with gas lights.  The walking company we used (London Walks: walks.com) was suggested by someone I worked with and was a great way to get us out and somewhere…otherwise, there’s so much to see and do, it’s hard to figure out where to get started.

Pret a Manger is also a good thing.  There’s one right outside the hotel (okay, in London, there’s one outside just about everyplace) and they can always be counted on for good basic affordable food.

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London, Day 1

Steps Walked: 21,170 (15,535 at moderate pace)

Big Ben, London

A Shot From Today's Walk

So, we took a red eye to London and got almost no sleep, but it’s London, so we literally walked ’til we dropped.  It “helped” that the hotel didn’t have a room ready until mid afternoon.  The hotel is wonderfully positioned.  We’re right across from Trafalgar Square and just down the street from Parliament.  We walked there easily, even as tired as we were.

But how else except by walking do you get this close to Big Ben?

Or see signs like this one?

Fortunately, there’s a well-reviewed pub right next to the hotel, so once we woke up again, we didn’t have far to go for dinner.  Surprisingly, there are traces of blue laws there (or maybe it’s just being in an urban setting) so it was closed.  Good thing there was a Thai place even closer that served us before we fell back to sleep.

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Taking Heart

Since I haven’t been to Pennsylvania to see my father since I started working at Info Tech in September and since plane tickets were cheap and snow wasn’t in the forecast, we flew up to Williamsport yesterday.  Dad looks good, all things considered (growing old in not a task for the weak or cowardly).  We had a good visit and two more days here.

But that’s not the point of this post.

We flew out of Gainesville despite all the problems we had there when we came back from Greece.  Please don’t take this as any sort of endorsement of Gainesville Regional Airport because it really is a po-dunk one-horse place.  But maybe because it is a po-dunk one-horse place, the flight crews that come into it are, shall we say, more relaxed at times.  Every time I fly, I remember the flight announcements from an Eastern flight a million years ago, just as Eastern was failing.  The crew knew they were all losing their jobs soon and decided to go out with a smile:  “Okay, if you’ve been living in a cave for the last 20 years, I’m going to show you how to use your seat belt.”

Delta’s Connection isn’t going under quite as soon (probably) so the crew was a bit more circumspect.  Still, the flight attendant included prayer as one of the things to do as you were putting on your oxygen mask and even included it as she acted out how to don the mask.  But more interestingly was the announcement from the pilot that we would be given priority into Hartsfield because we were carrying a heart.

Okay, so there were 53 other hearts on board, but those were in bodies, not in coolers.  And, since I wasn’t sure quite what I’d see in Williamsport, I welcomed the opportunity to think about what having a heart on board meant (beside landing with no circling and getting a gate with no waiting).

Two families were dealing with significant emotions…one at the loss, probably sudden, of a loved and the other at the chance for new life (and you just  know the phrase “Christmas miracle” was bandied around that hospital waiting room more than once yesterday).  Hey, it helped to know there were people who were bigger emotional basket cases than I was.

But then I started to wonder, is it really the case that the loss was sudden?  Who are these heart donors anyway?

The Internet is an amazing place and http://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/latestData/rptData.asp has all the answers, some of them a bit surprising.

There were 6,011 heart donors last year.  The largest number of them died of stroke (2,471), but a lot (2,340) died of blunt injury (only 942 of these were motor vehicle accidents though).  There were 539 gun shot wound caused deaths.

What I find peculiar is there were 736 who died of cardiovascular causes.  So, the heart didn’t work in one person, let’s try it in someone else?  And there were 243 deaths caused by drug intoxication.  I guess the  drugs caused fatal damage to something other than the heart.

One thing that did come out is that almost all donors died of something sudden.  And getting into Atlanta so quickly was no fluke.  The shelf life of a heart is only about 5 hours.  You have to figure it was still in the guy’s chest when we left for the airport at 4:30 AM, since we didn’t get to Atlanta until a little after 7:00 AM.  What with rush hour traffic, surgical prep, etc. they didn’t have much time.  (That may explain why gate checked baggage took a while to come off the plane.)

And so ends today’s distracting thought.

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Christmas Music, Greek-style

Okay, so the elevators at our hotel in Athens have been playing Christmas music since we arrived Saturday.  This has been peculiar for a number of reasons.

  1. How do they know when to start playing Christmas music?  They don’t have Thanksgiving, so why was it already playing November 28?  Advent hadn’t started, nor had December.
  2. Why is it all in English?  Are there no Greek Christmas songs?
  3. Why is so much of it religious?  This is a fairly international hotel (at least half the entrees are vegetarian, for example and far fewer than half the guests are American), so you’d figure they’d be less likely to play religious music.  But no, lots of it is straight from the hymnal.
  4. And why is so much of it, well, peculiar?  It’s gotten so Charlie’s afraid to get in the elevator.  Of course, I love it.  A new personal favorite is “Never Do a Tango with an Eskimo.”

Yes, “Never do a Tango with an Eskimo.”  A fine piece of music, if you ask me.  (An abomination if you ask anyone else.)  If you haven’t heard it recently, or ever, take a listen at http://www.turnbacktogod.com/never-do-a-tango-with-an-eskimo-song/ .

Besides the joy of the song with a title like that, be sure to notice:

  • Don’t you wish Rankin/Bass (of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer tv special) had found this instead?  I’ve been meaning to try out animation software though.  Maybe I’ve found my muse.  Appropriate, given my location…
  • The end sure sounds more like a cha cha than a tango to me.  But I like this song, so that tells you about my musical knowledge/taste.
  • The site is for born-again Christians.  Umm, and what do Eskimos have to do with that?  Or maybe it’s the tango?
  • But check the lyrics…there’s nothing about Christmas at all in them.  This should get the creative among you writing new verses.  How about:
When Jesus does a tango, he'd prefer to have a mango
In the fruit bowl that he eats from at the break.
But mangoes in the snow just don't have a chance to grow,
So Eskimos have none for goodness sake.

I guess this means I shouldn’t complain about Christmas music when I get home.  But I still will.

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