Strange Group Names for Birds

An exaltation of larks
A bouquet of pheasants
A building of rooks
A cast of hawks (or falcons)
A charm of finches
A cover of coots
A deceit of lapwings
A descent of woodpeckers
A dissimulation of birds
A dole of doves
A murmuration of starlings
A murder of crows
An ostentation of peacokcs
A parliament of owls
A pitying of turtledoves
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I Suppose It Could Have Been Worse

Why, oh, why, oh, why are the organizers of today’s Washington, DC rally against the war in Iraq offering the podium to Jesse Jackson and Jane Fonda?
I guess it could have been worse: they could have invited Michael “N-word” Richards and the latest anti-Semite to crawl out of the closet, former civil rights leader and Ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young.
Now, if they’d gotten Charlton Heston, _that_ would have been a PR coup.

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Fall From Grace

There have to be millions of Americans who have watched the deterioration of John McCain from man of principle to money-grubbing pol with regret and consternation.
As if being the most vocal public water-carrier in the Senate for the troop “surge” weren’t enough, John McCain disgraced himself yet again this past week by voting against the minimum wage bill.
The actual Senate vote was a little more complicated than that, but the effect was the same: kill an increase in the federal minimum wage for the tenth year in a row.
For shame.

I Can Relate to This

A Chinese court ruled that the screaming of a four year old boy caused 433 chickens to trample each other to death.
The boy’s father was ordered to pay $230 in restitution.
As a grandmother of three, I do relate to the chickens.


I got clobbered with one of the “bugs” that’s been floating around.
It hit me Friday morning, but not badly enough to keep me from my usual routine.
Saturday was different: fever, malaise, upset stomach, etc.
Normally, it would have been annoying to be sick on a weekend, but having an excuse to veg out in a easy chair and take long naps in a comfortable, quiet environment felt more like a vacation than a convalescence: non-productivity without a shred of guilt.

Random Facts About Rogue Waves

For years, scientists scoffed at sailor’s tales of rogue waves, monsters described as 100 foot walls of water that appear out of nowhere.
The sailors were written off as masters of metaphor because the linear models developed to predict huge, atypical waves were, frankly, wrong. These models predicted a rogue wave every 10,000 years. The reality is that rogue waves happen at least once every other _day_ (Studies of satellite images identified 10 such waves in a 3 week period). In fact, some oceanographers believe there could be 10 rogue waves in the ocean at any given time.
The tragedy in this is that the ship building industry relied on those models to design deep ocean vessels. As a result, an undetermined number of supertankers and container ships have been sunk, the result of rogue waves and bad mathematics.
Researchers have proposed better models for predicting these monster waves, the nonlinear Schr

Robert and Me – Update

So far, my alter ego “Robert Lee” has received direct solicitations for software developer jobs from five companies.
Me, none.
Robert is also continuing to get calls and emails from recruiters.
Evidently, I need to revise my premature conclusion about ageism and sexism in the technology workplace.


It caught up to us last night, with temperatures in the teens and in some spots, single digits. To be expected for mid-January and mercifully, it’s dry and not too windy.
One is grateful beyond measure to be protected from the cold and, if circumstances permit, to be spared a long commute requiring long walks, frigid train platforms and/or bus stops.

What Would You Do About Iraq?

It is an intractable mess, not only because of horrendous mistakes made by the Bush Administration, but because of regional loyalties and long-standing rivalries between the Sunnis and the Shia.
Following last November’s electoral repudiation of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, fearing the worst for his Sunni brothers in Iraq in the event of a US troop withdrawal, administered a very decisive, public swift kick to Dick Cheney’s money-lined patoot.
Saudi Arabia is the same country that supplied the majority of the 9/11 terrorists, and whose citizens continue to fund both the Sunni insurgents raising havoc in Iraq and the US’s worst enemy in the “war on terror”, al Qaeda.
Still, their leadership is catered to, and have been for years, by the US government.

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Robert and Me

After a recent family gathering, my son reported that one of his wife’s big-mouthed relatives was bragging about how he was getting one to two phone calls _a day_ from companies begging him to go to work for them.
In the two to three weeks around the first of this year, it wasn’t unusual for software developers to get one or more calls a day from headhunters, this being an exceptionally good job market. I was surprised, though, to hear about such a volume of calls from direct companies, and decided to test this out.

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