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Be warned that a lot of book summaries will be coming in the near future. I have a 2 month backlog of 8 books that I need to write summaries for.

Finished Slow is Beautiful: New visions of community, leisure, and joie de vivre by Cecile Andrews. In this book Andrews motivates the idea of the "slow life" and discusses some way of slowing down your own life.

The central claim of this book is that the "fast" life does not lead to happiness. The constant chase after more money, more status, and more stuff decreases happiness rather than increases it. Some people find the fast life satisfying, but it is increasingly clear that the universal emphasis on the fast life is harmful to individuals and communities.

Andrews supports this claim with an overview of some of the recent research on happiness. This research supports the conclusion that the things that make us happy are the things that we have less time for in our overworked, over scheduled lives. For most people happiness comes from spending time with people they care about, participating in activities where they can achieve a state of flow, and having enough free time to do these things.

Andrews concludes that we need to slow down our lives to make room for the things that make us happy. She gives a number of tips for this, but she also emphasizes the importance of social change to allow more people to choose to slow down their lives. Andrews realizes something that much of the happiness literature misses: in American society today, slowing down your life is a privilege that few can take advantage of. Even those financially able to work part time have a hard time doing so in the career of their choice because many careers do not offer part time opportunities (part time software engineers are few and far between; I have heard stories of lawyers who were asked to leave their practice when they asked for a "part time" 40 hour week). Those who can find part time work that they find interesting usually have to sacrifice health care. Andrews recognizes that slowing down society (or at least giving all of its members the choice to slow down) will more than individual life changes.

Despite all the good things about this book, I can only give it a middling recommendation overall. The parts that were on topic were quite good. However, Andrews would occassionally go off into a political rant that was, as often as not, only tangentially related to the topic at home. These political rants rarely added to the discussion. Even reading this in April of 2009, the frequent criticisms of George W. Bush seemed dated. Sadly, these digressions were frequent enough to seriously detract from the quality of the book.

This book is a valuable read, but you have to be willing to leave behind the dirt and take home the gems.
erikars: (Default)
This is true for so much more than food:
The value of relationship marketing is that it allows many kinds of information besides prices to travel up and down the food chain: stories as well as number, qualities as well as quantities, values rather than "value." And as soon as that happens people begin to make different kinds of buying decisions, motivated by criteria other than prices. - The Omnivore's Dilemma
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Stupid stamp price increase. I want to send something, but now I have to wait until we buy some new stamps or some penny stamps.

Yay for Amazon Fresh. We have been using it for groceries the last few weeks, and it has been marvelous. We spend pretty much the same as we did in real stores (the lack of generic brands is just about canceled out by the fact that I have more selection on the items I would buy non-generic). I order any time I want, and food shows up on the porch the next morning. Double win!

And yay for gardens. Mine is finally planted. I am a little sad because there was a hole in my oregano seed packet and oregano seeds are very small, so I have no oregano.

And, while I am making a semi-random comments. I was thinking today that you have to choose carefully which dish to wash first with a newly soaped sponge. You do not want something too clean (like a lid from a pan of boiling water) because then you feel you are wasting the brand new soapiness. You also do not want something like a greasy pan that will use up the new soap too soon. The ideal dish is something like a cheese grater which is distinctly dirty, but does not ruin the soapiness of the sponge.
erikars: (Default)
I just had an "old" moment. On some mailing list someone made a comment about how something has been around "for like a decade". My first thought was "hey now, that was new when I started college". My second thought was "oh wait, that does make nearly a decade". =)
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Heylo all. Just wanted to say that I am alive, my PLDI presentation went well (I'll put up slides eventually), Jeff and I are moved into a new place in Kirkland, and unpacking is a pain.
erikars: (Default)

  • You know your head is narrow when you are shopping for glasses and they start pulling out the large size children's glasses.

  • Never buy Nine West brand socks. I have had mine for a couple months and they already have holes.

  • How many Googlers does it take to push an SUV up a hill? We found out on the bus today that it takes about 7.

  • I am finally watching Eva.

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I have always had a hard time believing I was sick until my body reached the point where I was physically unable to have a normal day. I was the type of child who would say, "Do I have to stay home from school? I feel well enough."

I have finally reached the point where I know, in my mind at least, that I will get better sooner if I stay home, but I still feel like I am lying to myself a bit when I do. "I am not really sick," I tell myself. "I can still get out of bed, shower, make food, read. I should be at school/work."

However, if I needed proof today that staying home today was a good idea, it came when I sat down to read and did not realize I had fallen asleep until I woke up 1.5 hours later.
erikars: (Default)
Extremely quick update, mostly so I remember what to expand upon later. First week at Google was fun. Train ride down was fun, and seeing Andrew was fun. My head has been overstuffed with info; I can only imagine what it is like for the people who weren't interns. Choosing a medical plan is hard. Google is still awesome. I attended a good talk on what causes people to leave engineering programs and how the development of professional identity varies by gender. Getting to my final hotel destination was somewhat difficult. Mysterious lava lamps appeared. Driving again is hard, but not as bad as I remembered. It is kind of nice to be able to respond to paper reviews, but double blind reviews are silly for CS papers (definitely more on that).
erikars: (Default)
Result of the Google quiz from the CNN money feature on the top companies to work for "You've got the basics, but you're not ready to be a Noogler yet."

I'll mention that to them when I get back to the office. =)
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As of the week after next I will be a full time employee of Google and on leave from graduate school for the foreseeable future.
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It has been a busy few weeks here in Erika-land. I spent the 10th-14th down in Mountain View for some intern activities at Google. Friday the 15th was supposed to be my last day at Google, but the office was closed due to weather. Instead my last day was Monday (causing me to miss a talk at UW I wanted to go to). The rest of that week was spent visiting my mom (she is still in the hospital =( ) and Christmas shopping.

On Thursday Jeff and I drove over to Kennewick, just missing the bad weather. We had a lovely time with his family that included large amounts of very tasty cheese (stocking stuffers). We drove back Christmas eve and spent the afternoon and evening with my father and some other family. Monday was Christmas at my mom's house. Mom could not be home for Christmas, but we had good dinner and visiting anyway and visited her that evening. Dinner was made by my sister's boyfriend. There was smoked prime rib (soooo tasty), ham, garlic mashed potatoes, hazelnut beans, and rolls. Quite excellent.

This last week Jeff and I have just been relaxing. We both had some time off to spend lazing. Jeff got me "Okami" for Christmas, so I have been playing through that, and Jeff played through "God of War". However, we were thwarted in our attempts to acquire DS Lites for ourselves. Last Thursday we had [ profile] thorarin, [ profile] krizoitz, [ profile] shawnaduck, and [ profile] giddeon over for games and dinner.

Yay vacation!

Rant time!

Aug. 27th, 2006 07:57 am
erikars: (Default)
Yesterday I got a hair cut. I dislike it. It is similar to what I had before, and it is not a terrible cut in and of itself. But it is not what I want.

That brings me to the main topic of my rant: hair stylists. Why is it so hard to find a useful stylist? I do not know exactly what I want. I have not had hair this short in years, and I am not the type who pays terribly much attention to what haircuts look like (especially the details). I am particularly unable to judge what will look good on me.

The hair stylist is suppose to be the professional. The stylist is supposed to be the one who helps me figure out what I like when I say I want my hair shorter, do not want bangs, and, most importantly, want a haicut that looks tidy. I do not want to be told at the end of my haircut that she gave me something that is "fun" in the back. I don't want my hair to be fun, I want it to be dour, dagnabit.

I enjoy short hair, but I am not sure that it is worth it if I am going to have to keep getting cuts I dislike in the quest for a stylist who knows what "tidy" means.
erikars: (Default)
Book summary number two. I would have written it up yesterday, but I was distracted by Richard III and delicious dinner and wonderful company at the home of [ profile] lwoody2k. Richard III was excellent, and apparently people count as youth (aka super cheap tickets) until they are 25. If only I had known before I bought our tickets.

Sometime during the month of June, I finished The Pragmatic Progammer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas. The Pragmatic Progammer is still very current despite the fact that it was published in 1999. The book contains all sorts of useful advice for programmers. Most people, especially those with a *nix background, have probably heard a lot of what they have to say. However, this book emphasizes a lot of good software engineering techniques, describes why the techniques are important, and manages to do this in a readable package.
erikars: (Default)
I like things like LJ and Yahoo mail that let me change my name willy nilly. No official documentation needed here!
erikars: (Default)
I'm married, and Jeff and I will not exist for >= a week.


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Erika RS

May 2012

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