Headlines for Friday:

Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
AXVisit Steve
AXAsk Calum for help with avocado
AXCall Mr. Bobadilla

1. Back in the groove: 00:09

Categories: None -- Permalink
I had a totally awesome day at IBM today, crunching some data and doing some nifty photocloud visualizations of all the people who had blogged about a certain topic. I sorted it by domain in order to collocate people from the same lab, and resized the photos according to the number of posts they had made, linking each picture to the respective blogs. I then ran the same analysis on their bookmarks. Next week, I'm going to do a 2D plot... =)

It was _tons_ of fun hacking together a little Java program to do the analysis. I had to look up a lot of things in order to do the first program. It took me a while to dump SAX in favor of DOM, but once I'd gotten the XML parsing code out of the way, I wrote the data analysis quickly. My code wouldn't win points for elegance or efficiency, but it works. I wish I had either Ruby or Python on that system - heck, I could do this stuff in Emacs Lisp. I think I'll go install the Windows versions of my favorite programming languages as soon as possible, although I might have to clear it with IBM first.

Today put me firmly back in the programming/hacking camp. I couldn't pry my fingers off the keyboard. =) Mark had to call me to make sure I didn't miss the 3:55 bus. I just had so much fun writing glue code and crunching all the data. In terms of geek stuff, this is where I belong...

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Random Japanese sentence: ペルシャ猫に関連した古いお話しがあります。 There is a classic story related about a Persian cat. Perusha-neko ni kanren shita furui o-hanashi ga arimasu.

2. Toastmasters: 00:29

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If I give the universe a chance, it does its best to be absolutely wonderful. =)

I had misgivings about the Toastmasters speech contest held Thursday, but when I gave myself permission to just go ahead and do it, I had tons of fun. I gave a speech entitled "I Will Learn How To Cook... Or Die Trying". Frequent readers of my blog (none of which were among the audience) would recognize some of the misadventures I've had. =) I'll post the MP3 one of these days. (I really should start an infrequent little podcast...)

My contest performance was only the second time I'd run through that particular version of the speech. Still, I had no problems connecting to the audience, treating them as friends, and making them laugh. I missed a few jokes I had wanted to make, but it flowed together well. I'm still having problems ending on the strong note everyone expects, probably because I pour a lot of energy into the beginning and middle as well.

Even though I threw the revised speech together as hastily as a stir-fry on a starving Saturday night, I won second place. =) The man who won first was a really cool Toastmaster, and his speaking skills are far beyond mine. Lots of things to learn!

Mrs. Castillo would be thrilled to hear that people liked my use of props. I can think of no other cause for this but the drama in education program we had in grade school. =) My father and my sister must share the credit for anything I might know about humor and storytelling. My mom's encouraging note earlier this morning was the source of my energy during the speech. And oh, so many people who keep me going and make me laugh... If I spread sunshine in people's lives, it is because I get so much from others!

I need to work on speech organization a bit more, and endings are still one of my weak points. I have plenty of things to learn, and I love that. I don't want to be a good speaker. I want to become a brilliant speaker so that I can inspire people not only to adopt the ideas I want them to consider but also to improve their own communication skills. =)

Very good day.

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼女はその猫に牛乳をやった。 She fed milk to the cat.

3. Level up! Steak and potatoes: 02:13

Categories: CookOrDie#57 -- Permalink
After giving that cook-or-die speech, I felt like treating myself to something special. So for today: pepper steak and mashed potatoes! This turned out to be surprisingly easy to prepare. Sure, it wasn't melt-in-my-mouth tender, but it was fine.

Level up! Also, have discovered the joys of rosemary.

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は雌猫を飼っている。 I keep a female cat.

4. Level up: Salmon!: 23:56

Categories: CookOrDie#58 -- Permalink
I cooked salmon for the first time today. =D I followed the recipe for salmon with avocado with lots of liberal changes: green bellpepper instead of orange, plum tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes, and salmon steak instead of salmon fillet. Despite all these changes, it turned out quite well.

I prepared aglio et olio penne (hah! garlic and olive oil!) with sauteed mushrooms. The penne was a bit undercooked, but I'll fix that next time. I took it out slightly before 9 minutes because I like my pasta a little firm, but next time I'll let it get a little softer.

Props go to Calum for scrubbing the broiler pan until it gleamed. =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫は捕らえたネズミを引き裂き始めた。 The cat began to tear at the mouse it caught. Neko wa toraeta nezumi o hikisakihajimeta.