The Kentucky Derby

May 2, 2015

Today is a special family day.  In Seattle the Opening of Boating Season (33 CFR 100.1304).  At our home, the Opening of Mint Julep Season.  In perfect coordination with the Kentucky Derby.

Just like I choose teams in March Madness (what’s my connection with the college, tempered by the seed), I chose horses by their names.  And I read the NYT analysis this morning…the NYT really has staff that handicap horse racing?  My greatest success was in 2012 with “I’ll Have Another”.  And so today I am challenged.  My $24 “dollars” for four WPS bets:

Carpe Diem.  Brings strong memory of the best commencement speech I’ve heard, Sherman Alexie at UW in 2003.  8-1.

Frosted.  This is how bad the set of names are this year.  But in honor of my colleague Bruce Frost and my joy in watching David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon (the frost-bitten Dick), Frosted will have to do.  15-1.

Bolo.  Lee Silver, a favorite Caltech professor always looked sharp in his bolo tie.  And a woman trainer.  30-1

A Baffert Horse.  The two favorites.  American Pharaoh is out, let my people go.  Dortmund?  Oh well.  3-1.



June 7, 2014

For many reasons I have become engaged in “reproducibility”, the corner stone of science.  My original interest was on the computational side, but I’ve learned about many new and effective practices on the observational side as well.  Many, many technical and cultural issues for the STEM community.

I should document my most recent encounter with reproducibility.  I received an inquiry from a librarian at an industrial consortium seeking a gray literature, technical report, documenting a box of FORTRAN I shepherded when I was an undergraduate.   With the underlying database, I constantly carried two boxes of cards at all times.

Why anybody would want a technical description of code that is 41 years old  seems mystical, yet I did have this on my shelf, now scanned and delivered.

I wish I had so much more recent work as well documented.

Computing Update V

June 7, 2014

We were in Atlanta visiting my in-laws a couple of weeks ago and one of my tasks was to deal with a major intrusion onto my mother-in-law’s Windows computer.  She certainly had no need for pop-up windows offering her soft porn.

I tried to engage my geek son Mark in discussing this issue but he wouldn’t engage…was boring to his sweetheart Chris…and he told me to blog it.  Here we go.

My technical skills under Windows are dated.  So I struggled through, back and forth between Control Panel (which seems to become worse and worse to navigate) and searches on Google and Bing.  (If Bing is to succeed it should be the dominant search engine for Windows, but not yet true.)

The problem I surmise was my mother-in-law downloaded a Firefox distribution not directly from Mozilla.   On April 30.  And tried to recover from that disaster on May 16 further piling on.  It took roughly six hours but I was able to eradicate all the evil that had set in.

All of this reminds me why Windows is simply unacceptable.  Why have an operating system where programs are installed with their own uninstaller, that the distributor writes and makes uninstalling impossible.  Contrast OS X, drag the application to the trash and empty the trash.  That Internet Explorer allows add-ins where the distributor can prevent removal/disablement.  That major anti-spam/virus/malware engines allow anything that is putatively useful (ad-ware as a specific example).  And did I mention fake McAfee anti-virus as part of this mess.  That the registry even exists prevents simple technical solutions and make Windows particularly non-consumer friendly.





Triple Crown

June 7, 2014

My primary interest in horse racing is the Kentucky Derby only because it also marks “Opening Day” in Seattle (CFR 33.100.1304) and in the McDuff family the opening of “Mint Julep Season” (and I must admit we use Tennessee Sour Mash instead of Kentucky Bourbon).

Each year I place three WPS bets for the Kentucky Derby.  I know nothing about horse racing, so I go by the names.  The horse “I’ll Have Another” has put me so far net ahead that I can likely never spend another penny to remain profitable.

Today was the first time I’ve ever watched the Belmont Stakes.  A horse named “California Chrome” just isn’t a name that will attract my bets.   (But just completed an incredible redistribution of wealth.)    But it was of interest for I do like the side story of hard scrabble owners, old trainer, old jockey.

What was amazing to me was the NBC coverage.  Frank Sinatra Jr. singing New York, New York.  Incredible graphics about how much longer the Belmont track is.  Not only California Chrome wearing a nasal strip, but also the jockey.  And the post race analysis that the Triple Crown is not fair to the horses.

Thankfully it is now “Hockey Night in Canada”, except it is New York v. Los Angeles.  (And one final mystery, why is the WordPress spell checker objecting to my spelling of Los Angeles?)


UW and Public Records I

September 22, 2013

I will return to my own public records request following up on this posting re Hypenvironment.  But for now my own request, that was fulfilled within one business day, takes back seat to the remarkable settlement to (ex-, but is that lasting?) Assistant Professor Bichindaritz.   Much detail of this $720k settlement is available on her attorney’s web.

The key details are the exposure to the practices of UW as revealed in her pleadings to federal appellate court.  Of course I am citing a best-case (aka biased) account from her own attorneys.  But where is Provost Wise?  And what should we make of Academic HR at UW?

Retiring from UW I

September 22, 2013

At the University of Washington some things run on one calendar, others on another.  As of September 16, I am retired in the sense that the university is not paying me.  They soon will again as I choose to exercise my post retirement re-employment rights.  Yet I am covered by the health plan for the remainder of the month, so I remain Professor.  But technically  I will not become Professor Emeritus until October 1.  That time will pass quickly…

In the meantime upper administration has failed again.  I repeatedly sought advice as to my “last day on payroll” date so that I would have my salary in our merit pool, yet not receive a salary increase so that the rare merit pool that exists could go to good use for young, underpaid colleagues.  I was given specific guidance upper>dean>department that if my payroll cutoff were 9/15/2013 then my (due on 9/1) raise would not be applied and the amount would go to pool.  Then in mid September “upper” changed its story, too late to go backward.

I suppose from a careful reading of the Faculty Code this might be the only decision that could “pass muster”, with a record of past legal challenges to the faculty salary policy.  But upper administration could actually have tried to establish intent, offer waivers of rights, whatever.  In practice it means I have a young colleague who would have received, and richly deserved, a 10% increase only receiving 7%.  And as I am re-employed I needlessly receive my 3.5% increase that could be used to much better purpose going forward.

The future of the quality of our faculty is for those “seniors” willing to get out of the way, like me,  to be respected in that decision making.  UW needs to do much better.



iOS 7 I: One Thing Not to Like

September 22, 2013

iOS 7.  Some people love it, some people hate it.  Much to like, most of the complaints are “water off McDuff’s back”.  Except: (!)

I went to add an event to my calendar and needed to set the time.  The new date/time setting control is lame compared to all versions since at least iOS 4.  Used to be when you scrolled and got close, touching the right number ratcheted it in.  No more.  Huge decline is usability and accessibility.

I’m amazed that I can’t find similar feedback in web searches.   Would love pointers to similar commentary.