Just… no

Started drafting this for the work blog, but I don’t think it’s really appropriate. But it amuses me, so I’ll put it here.

One of the side effects of our new website is that I’m getting a lot more email asking me to sponsor posts or trade links or have someone write a “special” post for our site. Sometimes I’ll ignore them, because they really do appear to be automatic mail and not actually written by anyone who has visited our site.

Also, the few times I’ve responded, I’ve had bad responses. Sometimes people try to argue with me about saying no. Yesterday was one that made me laugh, though. Someone wrote in to the contact address. The entire mail:

I was wondering — How would someone go about sponsoring or advertising on your website?



I was pretty sure this was just another spammer scraping addresses, but I responded with “You can’t.” Short, sweet, and to the point; much like his original email. Apparently Mr. Partnership Director didn’t like this response and sends me:

Smart of you to turn down $100,000.00 partnership

I have to admit, I laughed, a lot. Mr “oh so innocent inquiry about sponsorship” now turns into someone offering me a $100K partnership. Nice try. I don’t believe you. (Plus, anyone who was going to approach me with a partnership is going to send mail To Me rather than our generic contact address. In fact! THEY HAVE!)

If you approach someone out of the blue, you don’t get to dictate how they respond to you, and sometimes those responses aren’t going to be what you expected. Yes, I probably could have been more polite and spend time explaining that this is not an advertising supported blog and that we don’t accept sponsored posts. But I was running out the door to a meeting when I saw it, and it was pretty clear he hadn’t put much time into thinking about how he was approaching me. So why should I put time into thinking about how I was responding to him?

Sometimes I really wish spammers weren’t so damn stupid.


Defeated it

We’ve been so busy lately. Steve’s encouraging me to hire a full time minion so I can actually get stuff done. I would, but I’m too busy to… Yeah, OK. That means that the house is a bit of a mess. I decided to get caught up on a little bit of cleaning so it doesn’t feel like we’re living in such a tip.

What happened turned into a bit of an ADD afternoon, where I lost many battles but possibly won the war.

I decide to start with a simple task. Clean the litterbox.

Grab the box, dump it out, take it outside, rinse it out. I dump the water on the front lawn because drought and leave the box in the sun to dry. Hey the car is a mess, I’ve got the hose. Yes, it’s water, but the car hasn’t been washed in an age and a good rinse will get some of that dust and pollen off it.

Leave litterbox outside to finish drying and sanitizing in the sun.

Go back inside and decide that while the box is drying, I’ll go ahead and vacuum. This is where it starts to go pear shaped. I managed to vacuum up some stealth poop (coated in litter) and… smear cat poop into the carpet. S#!T.

Vacuum 1
Carpet 0
Laura -1

Fine, no biggie, this is fixable. I’ll just get some carpet cleaner and deal. Except we’re out of carpet cleaner. Off to Home Depot (which is so close I should feel guilty driving rather than walking, but I was kinda in a hurry). I did see a pretty hummingbird in the garden center, though.

Get home and get the cleaner on the carpet and the spot bot working and decide to finish vacuuming the rest of the room. I sometimes forget quite how vicious this vacuum is… and got too close to the long string hanging off the scratching post. The vacuum pulled the post across the floor, jammed and quit.

Vacuum 2
Carpet 0
Scratching post -1
Laura -20

The nice thing about this vacuum is it’s really designed to get apart and maintain. This is no big deal. I find a screwdriver and take off the bottom and unwind 3 feet of sisal cord. Then I put it all back together, move the scratching post miles (ok, rooms) away and start vacuuming again. Now the carpet spinner isn’t working.

Vacuum 3
Carpet 0
Scratching post -1
Laura -50

Try again, take it apart, put it back together: still not running. Get a brilliant idea and hit the button to turn on the spinner. It works!

Vacuum 4
Carpet 0
Scratching post -1
Laura -1000

Finally finish vacuuming without destroying anything else. Get all the smeared poop cleaned up off the carpet. Put all the furniture (human and cat) back. Get the litterbox inside, filled and back in its place.

Final Score: Vacuum 4, Laura -1000. But the carpet is vacuumed, so I did win. Eventually.

I decided not to try and vacuum and mop the kitchen floor. I’d probably break a leg or something.

Gee, thanks google!

I’m working on a bit of research for a client. As I’m looking at the data I think “I need to check the key size. I don’t know how to check the key size. Oh, well, I have google. Dear, Google, please tell me how to find a DKIM key size.”

Google says, “Sure! here you go! The top hit for that is a post at word to the wise. Written by Laura Atkins.”

The kicker? That post didn’t actually answer my question.

Thanks, Google!




We went out last night to see if we could see any of the Camelopardalids meteor shower. Our first step was out to the Baylands park in Palo Alto. We were sitting in the car (old people star gazing tip: ragtops are awesome) waiting for our eyes to adjust and a few cars showed up. I was closing my eyes every time. At one point I hear “are you looking for meteors” and I yelled back “well, we’re TRYING to.” I decided not to add the “because people keep shining lights at us!”

Then I hear, “well, ma’am, the park is closed after dark.”

Ooops. Thing is, I didn’t think we were technically in the park. But discretion, valor, that whole thing. We left. I’m just glad I didn’t get all snarky about the bright light he was shining at us.

We then drove up to Arastadero. It, too, was closed. But, there was some space to pull off the road and park. There were 3 or 4 other cars and a bunch of kids in PJs watching too.

Sadly, there didn’t seem to be many meteors. But it was nice watching the sky and listening to all the peepers.

Then this happened…

It’s not like last week was a low stress week anyway. I started a major new project at work and spent 2 full days interviewing client employees. Then we had the first 90 degree days and discovered the AC was non functional. Happily, the repair company could get out and get it fixed the day after we called.

About 6 hours after the AC repair guy left, we were eating dinner and Steve jumped up and ran into the living room. I followed and there’s water leaking out of the ceiling. My first thought is that something else was wrong with the AC. But then he ran upstairs and there’s standing water leaking out of the bathroom and there is about an inch of water on the hallway carpet.

The supply line into the toilet had broken and was spewing water everywhere. We got it shut off and started sucking up water. 2 hours later we were still sucking up water out of the carpet. There wasn’t standing water and the carpet was just damp, so we set up fans, turned on the AC and decided to see what it was like in the morning.

In the morning things were still wet. We called a specialist, got FLIR pictures of the damage and a quote for drying out things. He was back that afternoon to set everything up. They pulled the floor in the bathroom, part of the floor in the laundry room, lifted the carpet, took out part of the drywall in the dining room, removed all the baseboards and drilled holes in the walls. Then the fans and dehumidifiers came in.

Yesterday they came to check on stuff, and the bathroom and most of the upstairs walls were dry. The subfloor under the carpet was still a little damp, but they pulled 2 upstairs fans. Downstairs everything but the ceiling was dry. Not only that, our ceiling is basically hollow, so they set up a heated fan with a duct to the ceiling pushing air up there directly.

Hallway upstairs

The upstairs hallway. The two fans are blowing between the carpet and the pad to dry things. There’s another fan in the laundry room and one in the front bedroom.

Upstairs bathroom

The bathroom with a heated fan blowing air under the vanity to make sure that’s dry. You can see the subfloor.

Living room

Downstairs in the living room. The red fan is blowing up through a tub into the ceiling / subfloor. The giant silver thing is a portable dehumidifier. There are 3 other fans pointed up at the ceiling.

Dining room

The window under the bathroom with drywall and insulation removed.

The house is VERY dry and noisy. I’ve had an ongoing headache between the dryness and the white noise. I’ll be glad when more of the fans disappear today.

The cats are all out of sorts about this. Momma Cat got out yesterday morning (we think through the front door while the contractor was here) and didn’t come home until after 9. I was a bit worried about her, even though I know she’s competent and comfortable as an outdoor cat. I was afraid the stress was too much for her. I didn’t need to be, but still…

Grover is mad, and spent all of yesterday and the day before upstairs in our room. We even took him food because he wasn’t moving. And every time I’d go check on him he would explain, in loud and yowl-y detail how much this ALL SUCKS.

Valeria and Amelia are pretty blasé about this. Amelia spent the whole day the contractors were here banging and drilling and sawing curled up in her bed downstairs POINTEDLY ignoring everything. Valeria hid behind the desks but has generally been OK with it.

So that’s been our weekend. Next up, finding a restoration contractor. And, of course, since we’re getting linoleum replaced in the guest bathroom, the linoleum in the master bath is totally crap and well, then there’s our tub which isn’t *quite* bit enough for 2, even though we have the space. And OMG, are we insane? We’ll see.


It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged here. Work and the business has exploded and I’m finding myself with more projects than I can handle. Last thing I want to do during my downtime is blog here.

Work, clients, email and policy is eating up all my neurons. And I can’t think of much else to write about. Most of that is not something I can mention publicly. Things are going well, just busy and stressful.

Been cooking as you’ve seen from some of the random pastes of recipes. If I put them here then I can find them using WP search function. That is kinda broken but it works.

Cats are fine. Valeria had a dental cleaning and teeth removed about a month ago and has recovered well. Amelia is still my little cuddle cat. Momma Cat has turned into an awesome office cat and spends most of her day sleeping (out of the way, even!) in the office. Grover is… Grover. But he’s our boy cat and we adore him.

Happy New Year

2013 was a year full of changes and challenges.

The first half of the year was spent dealing mostly with family stuff and the repeated trips to the UK just seemed to make the first few months fly by.

Then after that we started looking at business growth, improvements and changes. This is paying off a little now, but should really pay off in coming years.

On a personal level, it was a year of growth. I did meet my running goals, and then promptly got lazy. I’m setting monthly running goals for 2014 because it seems that if I have goals set I actually meet them. But if I don’t actually write them down, they’re not real so I don’t.

I don’t really do resolutions, but I do set goals. Last year was mostly business related, and I managed them. Working for yourself it’s always a challenge to stay focused and not just goof off and every year I set goals to be more focused and “work harder.” I’m pleased to say that I have made improvements and progress again this year. Next year I hope to keep doing this. Business-wise I want to get some more reference docs / white papers out. I also want to be a bit more consistent with blogging than I was last year. Yes, I’ve written 1200+ posts over 5 years, but last year blogging got put off more often than I’d like.

Personally, I want to keep running and have a 200 mile year. I’m want to continue the grand decluttering project. I want to get our financial house in order. I’d want to have more of a social life. I’m not really sure what that looks like, though – it may be finding some shared working space to force us out of the house regularly, it may be monthly get togethers. Still working on the details. But now it’s out there so I can’t just blow it off.

Happy new year everyone. May 2014 bring you everything you want. Here’s hoping it’s a better year than 2013.


Happy Thanksiving

I’m thankful for so many things these days. It’s not been the best year ever, but it has been full of growth (even if that’s painful).

I’m thankful for Steve and the cats and the life we’ve built for ourselves.

I’m thankful for friends and family.

I’m thankful many of my friends are on the far side of struggles with medical issues, money and jobs.

I’m thankful for the people the universe dumped into my path and forced me to trip over in order to get out of a rut.

I’m thankful that I am able to live in the Bay Area. It is a bit of the world that just suits me and that makes me happy. From the city density to the open spaces, the bay to the coast, the feeling that this is home.

We had a quiet day today. A fairly simple dinner for us: roast chicken, roasted veggies and green beans. I made an apple, persimmon and mincemeat pie (based off this recipe, but I had fewer apples than I thought so I bulked it out with persimmons). Haven’t tried it, yet, but we’ll have that later with some custard.



Science isn’t truth. Science is a method for determining facts. Science is about asking questions and doing the best we can to find the right answers. It’s about understanding our biases as scientists and thinking “OK, now, this may be the answer I wanted / was expecting / will get me funding. Is it really true? What ELSE could be causing this? How can I look at this from a different angle? If I do, what should I expect to be the answer if I’m right?”

It’s about how to look at and think about questions in a way that gives you a way to ask the next questions. It lets you model things in a way that allows you to predict the answer to the next question. If the prediction is wrong, then so is your understanding and you need to take a step back and look at the previous question.