FYI, the recent I haven't been doing much with this blog in the past year is I'm a new mother, and my new responsibilities, combined with my preexisting ones, don't leave me with much spare time. Sorry, loyal readers and spammers. Anyone interested in providing content should contact me by email.
Instead of "quiet as a mouse", Keith said "quiet as a ninja mouse."
Instead of "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride", I said:
- "Always an aunt, never a mother."
- "Always a pig, never bacon."
See more of our warped sayings.
Other suggestions always welcome.
In a previous post, I provided my favorite warped sayings, such as "more fun than a bowel full of monkeys". Here are a few more:
- "There wasn't a dry seat in the house."
- "An apple a day keeps Newton away."
Here are some word tweaks:
- "I got my second wind" (pronouncing the last word to rhyme with "bind", like winding a watch).
- "ridonculous", which I first heard from a colleague I assumed made up the word, but it's in urban dictionary.
I welcome additions.
According to the Associated Press, San Diego businessman Doug Manchester "gave $125,000 to a group backing a California ballot initiative to ban gay marriage". When threatened with a boycott, Manchester said "that he welcomes gay guests at his properties but as a Catholic believes marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman".
I applaud Manchester for living by his principles and expect him to soon initiate efforts to:
- ban marriage between Catholics and non-Catholics.
- ban remarriage by anyone whose divorced spouse is still living.
Doubters who accuse him of prejudice against homosexuals, instead of being a man of consistent religious beliefs, will then have to apologize for criticizing such a principled saintly man.
On a personal note, such an amendment would dissolve my ten-year marriage to my dear husband Keith (who, unlike me, was baptized), but it is vital in a democracy that couples' freedom and happiness be subordinated to others' religious beliefs.
Same-sex marriage is much in the thoughts of me and other like-minded Californians excited about its upcoming legalization. Here are some items on that theme.
Defenders of Marriage song
Every time we think about same-sex marriage
Makes us sick to our guts
I mean, two people who want to commit to a
stable monogamous life-long relationship
What are they, nuts?
Now a man should not lie with a
person who is a guy
He should only lie to his wife,
the bible is clear
Homosexuality is a choice?
Opponents of gay rights often claim that homosexuality is a choice. Let's think about that for a moment...
Anyone who makes that claim is implying that they consciously chose not to be homosexual, presumably due to their moral superiority. If these people were only attracted to members of the opposite sex, however, they wouldn't have needed to make such a choice. Thus, they're unwittingly making a confession about their own sexual orientation.
Flashback to 2004
Here's a reprint of my February 2004 email to family and close friends about my experiences around San Francisco's unilateral (later overturned) decision to allow same-sex marriages:
As you may know, San Francisco has been allowing gay couples to marry over this holiday weekend. As you may also know, Keith and I support gay marriage. I want to share with you how this has touched our lives. I know not all of you support gay marriage, but I know you support hospitality and standing up for what one believes in, even if you choose different causes.
Saturday, which was Valentine's Day, Keith and I stocked up on tchochkes and headed to City Hall in our little electric car. There was a huge line of people waiting for marriage licenses. We went down the line, giving out Hershey's kisses ("A kiss for the bride?"), champagne ("genuine Trader Joe's"), fancy-schmancy picture frames, and our best wishes. I loved Keith more than ever, seeing him heartily congratulating brides and grooms (which, analytical as always, I figured he wouldn't do if he regretted his state of matrimony). We spoke with a reporter from New York Newsday. After giving our names, I told her that Keith and I were married -- that the (temporary and local) legalization of gay marriage hadn't destroyed ours. We weren't quoted in the article; instead, the writer focused on the celebrants, which I think was appropriate.
Sunday morning, I went shopping again for more goodies, including some rainbow candles from the Castro. Unfortunately, the store that sold same-sex cake toppers wasn't open yet. Keith and I went to City Hall in the afternoon. After hearing a bride talk about her Jewish wedding at her grandmother's nursing home, I gave her a pair of big rainbow candles for Shabbos (Sabbath) and mentioned how Keith and I couldn't marry either under strict Jewish law. While we were able to give away all the candles and drinks, there were so many people handing out snacks that we went home with chocolate kisses.
That evening, I read online about people camping out at City Hall so they could be sure of getting married the next day. I made another trip out, with blankets and sweaters, because it was a wet chilly night. When I got home, Keith melted down the leftover chocolate kisses and made us warm chocolate pudding. Yum!
On Monday, I showed up at City Hall at 9:30 to volunteer inside, but they had more than enough people, and I was turned away, despite professing computer expertise. After getting over my disappointment, I assisted people who were handing out coffee, food (bagels and doughnuts), and stickers, and asked people in line what else they needed. I wasn't able to help with the request for a catheter, but I was able to come back later with dry socks and gloves, which were appreciated. By this time, some people in line recognized me, either from previous days or repeated appearances that day.
Everyone expects the courts to issue an injunction today stopping the granting of marriage licenses. We don't know whether this weekend's marriages will be voided. In any case, it will be the start of a state-wide and federal legal battle. For the friends of ours who married this weekend and didn't get a present from us, we'll make a donation to a legal fund in their honor.
I know that several of you participated in the Civil Rights movement. I'm proud and happy that I was able to participate in San Francisco's civil disobedience and civil rights movement.
Historical note: The weddings were halted by court order on March 11, 2004, and legally voided on August 12, 2004 .
Keith and I were listening to a radio show together when the host exhorted people to send in their comments:
Host: We read all your emails.
Keith starts laughing.
Ellen: What's so funny?
Keith: Do you know how mad people would be if Google said that?
I gave an unconventional inspirational talk at the first Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner. Instead of spoiling any of the surprises, I'll invite you to watch the below video. I recommend starting at 2:15; my part is about 5 minutes.
In early 2007, I started reading my now-favorite cartoon, xkcd: a webcomic of romance,
sarcasm, math, and language. It's geeky, playful, and whimsical. Some of the cartoons are only decipherable to computer scientists, but others have broader appeal, such as:
In February (2007), I sent a fan letter to the cartoonist, Randall Munroe, letting him know he has lots of fans at Google. His cartoons are frequently posted in halls or on internal email lists. I asked if he would be willing to give a talk at the Mountain View headquarters. He said he had no plans to visit California but would let me know if that changed.
On November 29, he emailed me to let me know that he'd be in the area the following week and would be happy to visit Google. Woot! I contacted the author events team, which scrambled to make arrangements, including trying to find a room big enough for his many enthusiastic Googler fans, and settled on Friday, December 7.
Randall had written about Google in his cartoons, such as:
We decided we needed to present him with an Internet-themed cake, made by ever indulgent food team:
Because Google was having a holiday party on the night of his talk, I tried to get a pair of last minute tickets so I could take him. (Googlers are allowed to bring one guest, a phenomenon that has led to date requests on craigslist and facebook.)
I was unable to get a pair of tickets, so I posted to an employee list asking if anyone had a spare guest ticket and wanted to take Randall. I quickly got eager female takers. One female engineer said it was like asking if anyone wanted a date with Johnny Depp. Google women had been particular fans of xkcd since this cartoon circulated on an internal women's mailing list:
Computer science legend Donald Knuth appeared in some xkcd cartoons:
I was acquainted with Knuth and knew that he had a sense of humor (his first publication was in Mad Magazine), so I invited him to attend the talk and lunch afterwards. Knuth notoriously doesn't use email, so I tried multiple channels to get the message to him and was delighted when I received the reply "Sounds like fun" via his assistant's email address. (I did the engineer's victory dance, which my initially startled colleagues agreed was justified.) I encouraged Knuth to surprise Randall by asking about the following cartoon during the talk's Q&A period:
Here's a photo of me conspiring with Knuth the day of the event:
(The picture was taken by the famous Meng, who also got a photo with Knuth.)
Two days before the talk, xkcd ran its first cartoon about the programming language Python:
Randall didn't realize it, but the creator of Python, Guido van Rossum, worked at Google, so I encouraged Guido to attend and ask a question at Randall's talk and invited him on a group bike ride to be held later in the day.
Meanwhile, Chris Dibona, Google's Open Source Product Manager and generally cool guy, and his team created a t-shirt to hand out at the event, with the above Google cartoon and its date and geographical coordinates (in reference to this cartoon and subsequent events).
The day of the event, everything went smoothly. Director of Research Peter Norvig, himself a very funny guy (and my manager) introduced the talk, which was recorded for later posting to YouTube and telecast to Google offices across the Western hemisphere.
I won't say much about the talk, since you can view it online. Randall was appropriately impressed by Knuth [21:30], although he didn't recognize Guido van Rossum [19:16]. (I didn't have any responsibilities during the talk, although you can see me ducking across the stage at 39:02 to pull up a relevant cartoon.)
After the talk, people ate cake and chatted with Randall, until he was whisked off to lunch.
After lunch, a bunch of us went on a ride on Google's conference bike:
From the left going clockwise are my husband Keith, Maria (Randall's holiday party host), Randall's friend Fizz, Randall, Guido van Rossum, and me. With Guido's able leadership, we achieved a speed of 13 miles per hour:
Then, old-timer Tom Nielsen and I took Randall and Fizz on a tour, including a stop at a metronaps pod:
Randall gallantly held two one-hour autograph sessions, during which he was kept busy. One of his most-posted cartoons at Google is:
The below photo shows Randall signing a Google version of the poster (referencing map-reduce), with Tom in the background:
At the end of the day, I handed Randall off to Maria, who took him to the Holiday Party, where he was approached by many Googlers. (See, for example, "http://www.flickr.com/photos/rivviepop/2095234153/", showing him with a Googler who apparently had him sign her collarbone.)
In summary, it was a great (but exhausting) day, and I think Randall is a great guy. I'm glad I got to meet him, and I hope he had half as much fun as we did.
This would be a good time to remind people that, while I work for Google, I do not speak for the company, and all of the above opinions are my own. Per company policy, I only posted photos taken in the Googleplex after getting approval. Many other Googlers made the talk happen and go smoothly, and my account of my experience is not meant to diminish others' contributions. (I now appreciate the hard work done by the Authors@Google team more than ever.) No electrons were harmed in this posting.
At a Girls Inc. event last weekend, I had the pleasure of running into someone I knew from college who had read my parking rant and gave me this Order of the Stick cartoon about a thwarted wizard attempting to recover her mount, which I recommend to anyone who has ever been frustrated with a parking lot attendant.