Carrying a book everywhere


This is going to be a rambling, round about, nothing in particular conversation between me and my future self, looking back. I do this every once in a while. You're invited to listen in. Hi, Kitt!

So, I've been working on my life goals this year. In particular, moving them from vague, hand-wavy goals like "read more" and "travel more" and "be successful" into concrete, measurable goals like "read 52 books in a year", and "establish a baseline of how much I travel so that I can measure 'more'," and "dump stuff on the website at least twice a week." So far, having them measurable means I'm moving towards them, which is great.



I went to Caltech for my undergraduate studies. At the time, I didn't realize how awesome the feat of being admitted into Caltech was. To me, at the time, it was more of an "of course" than a fantastic achievement.

These days, looking back, I'm stunned at the hubris of my youth. The only "of course" I see from that thinking is, "of course, you have no concept of your own limitations and failings." Four years at Caltech didn't quite fix those delusions.

They've since been removed, such that when I see things like this:

I now appropriately think, "Holy f---!" and take a moment to appreciate my fortunes. I am grateful for the opportunities I have, and for the chances others take with me when I asked to speak. I said "I have something to say!" and Fluent agreed. I greatly appreciate and thank them for selecting my talk out of the other 380+ talks they could have chosen, and for giving me that opportunity. I appreciate all of the opportunities I've had to share what I've learned. It's a great feeling.

I am blessed. I am blessed and I am grateful in ways I wasn't as a kid.

Cutting the cord


So, on a Hacker Dojo mailing list, a note went out today that read:

When I came in today, I saw the toaster was written on "MORONS LEFT ON ALL NIGHT SOLUTION ->" with an arrow pointing to the cord which has been cut. I'm wondering if anyone knows more information about it.

With a picture attached:

Hacker Dojo Toaster

It reminded me of college, and, in fact, of the Ride of the Valkyries.

It was tradition during finals week to play the Ride at the loudest possible volume at 7:00 am. I was dating Frank my sophomore year. He had access to the giant speakers from the music room sound system located at the Student Center. By "giant" I mean the cabinet for the subwoofer was a meter tall. And he had a particularly good amp that could power two of these speakers.

So, at the end of the school year, on the first morning of finals, we dragged those speakers up the stairs, set them up at the end of the freshman hall, set up the amp, attached the CD player, put in ear plugs, and promptly at 7am, launched the Ride of the Valkyries at volumes not previously heard in the previous two years (I have no idea if someone else had done this same plan, I just know it was the loudest I had heard). As soon at the song started, we hustled to the far end of the hallway to see the carnage that would follow.

Not very long later, I really don't recall how long it was but it wasn't very long, Prince, the tiny freshman that no one in the house liked, walked out of his room next to the speakers. With scissors, he proceeded to cut the cords on the speakers.




There was a certain amount of anger and finger pointing that happened immediately after that. Frank ended up paying for replacements for the now unusable speaker cords. We filed a complaint with the MoSH, though, in retrospect, I'm not really sure what argument we were trying to make. We were tormenting the frosh, but doing so in an accepted tradition, they responded in a destructive way, who is really at fault here? Had Prince just unplugged the speakers, I'm not sure we wouldn't have just plugged them back in, though I also don't recall the "rules" with the Ride.

Maybe Andy or Charles can help me out there, I should ask one or both of them if it was verboten to start the Ride back up once it was legitimately shut down on a morning, or if we could play it until the end.

My own footsteps


I ran track in junior high school (sorta), high school and college. I wasn't particularly fast, and kept running shorter and shorter races (the mile in junior high, the 800 in high school and the 400 in college).

Going to a small, division-III school meant that, well, I could still rack up the points at tournaments coming in second or third against a lot of other small schools. I wish I had been stronger mentally, so that I could have been a better runner, but I did okay.

I and three of my teammates held the 4 x 400 relay record from 1991 until it was broken in 2003. Not too bad, actually. Even had our names on the big record board in the women's locker room. Ooooooo, warm fuzzies!

Today, I was goofing off online, randomly googling for friends, when I stumbled across Andy's 9th overall triple jump distance in the Caltech records.

I immediately went to check out the women's top performance's, too. I recognized a lot of names of classmates and teammates on the list, though many of them were lower on the list. The relay times weren't listed, which disappointed me a little bit, until I realized, holy crap! one of my times was listed! I was the 8th fastest 400m female Caltech runner. Holy crap!

I showed the times to Kris, and his first comment was, "Hey! You were fast!" I was always disappointed that I never broke 60 seconds, but he commented, "I don't know that I could run that fast now. I'll have to try."

Almost makes me want to train to try again, now that I know how to be mentally tougher.


I actually remember the race, which is funny. The meet was the last one I would run in for Caltech, might have been the Division 3 qualifiers or something. I lined up in a lane just inside of a runner who, quite honestly, looked like a chump to me. I remember thinking there was no way I was going to lose to this woman. The gun went off, around the first curve we went, and I passed her, as I should since I was in the inside lane.

Coming around the last curve, I remember hearing her footsteps. I remember thinking again, "No way," and starting to run faster, as hard I as I could on those last 100 meters. My focus was on staying ahead of that woman, not on the finish line, on that woman.

I beat her, coming in 4th or 5th in the race. My team's assistant coach's daughter came in first with a time around 59 seconds.

After the race, I walked back to the bleachers to sit with my team, as my coach was jumping around all excited, and my boyfriend was laughing. Both were excited to see me. What happened, I asked. Why was everyone so excited?

Coach showed me my time, which was 3-4 seconds faster than my previous season's best, which was great. However, Rob (the boyfriend) told me about how the woman I had heard had been starting to catch me around the back curve, but, come that back straight, I had clearly run as I had never run before, the gap between us growing dramatically with every step.

By the end of the race, the only footsteps I had heard were my own.

Decisions of youth


Kris, Bella, Annie and I went to Andy's for dinner tonight. Andy grilled, which fit in nicely to Kris' and my agreement that this summer is going to be a summer of enjoying the outdoors in the evening. We went to the park near Andy's house for the dogs to meet "on neutral ground" before Bella and Annie toured Blue and Shadow's home as Blue and Shadow had done our house two weeks ago. The other thought of heading to the park was to tire them out before a bit so that the dogs would be managable during dinner. Unfortunately, Annie both runs away when she's offleash and doesn't tire very easily. So, instead of allowing her to run run run offleash, and run away, I ended up running next to her, with Annie on her leash. I tired out instead.

That, and the running made me sweat. I'm sure I was ripe before heading over for dinner. Poor Kris. Poor Andy.

Dinner was tilapia (for Andy and me) and salmon (for Kris), rice and mojitos. Andy's growing mint in his back yard, in a hydroponic pod he and his father built, which makes it really cool, and less likely to overtake his garden bed. Before he started the fish, he made us mojitos. I couldn't convince Kris to mash the mint in a rotating manner, so that I could wiggle my hips like the rum commercial. Instead, he just plunged the handle up and down, making my movements more like squats. Not very sexy.

The dogs were very much a highlight of the evening. Shadow likes to circle the yard, barking at birds and rats on wires. Blue and Annie wandered the house, Annie looking for food, Blue making sure she didn't find any. Annie is totally part of the Crews pack. She fit right in. Bella, not so much. She just checked out the house, then hovered around us.

I'm starting to believe Andy knew me in college as much as I knew him in college: which is to say, he knew of me peripherally, knew which house I was in, but didn't much pay any attention to me, as I was outside his world. Which suits me fine, as there are many, many, many parts of college I'd like to forget. The one part, however, that he did know about was my senior picture. "Want to see Kitt's senior picture?" Not that it's particularly forgetable. For some reason, that's what I wanted at the time.

At Tech, each senior receives a half page in the yearbook. A senior can submit one or several photos, and they'll be arranged with other seniors on the various pages, with a quote if desired. When I submitted my pictures, I liked them a lot. When the yearbook the following year had a senior picture in it that mocked my photo, I started to doubt the wisdom of my picture choice. That, and my mother was scandalized when she saw my pictures for the first time. Scandalizing one's mother? Not always a good thing.

So, in the spirit of embracing that which embarrasses me, making it my own, overcoming the embarrassment, I'll post my college senior photo. Imagine what it looks like, if this is the mockery in the following year's yearbook:

Lessons learned


You know, sometimes you don't want to hear the words. You don't want to know the opinions of people from your life 15 years ago, not because their opinions hurt, but because they're good opinions, and you wonder how different your life might have been if you had known their opinion.

At Fru's wedding tonight, I knew a relatively small number of people attending the event: Fru has a lot of friends who love him and I'm one of the truly blessed people who have Dan in my life. I am a better person for knowing him. Of the people at the wedding who I do know, nearly all of them are Techers. Most of them all recognized me. Some didn't.

One conversation went something like, "Do I know you?"

"Yes, we went to Tech together."

"You went to Tech?"


"Oh my god, are you? Are you Kitt?"

"Yes, I am."

"Oh my god, it's great to see you!"

Big hug for both of us.

We chatted for a bit, with another Techer overhearing us and interjecting, "Yes, this is Kitt, the freshman everyone had a crush on."

I looked over shocked at the person who made this comment. He continued talking to the person next to him. "No, everyone had a crush on her. I had a crush on her. I just couldn't go up to talk to her." "Dude, did you know she just walked up to me and asked me out?" "She did?" The conversation continued, with my standing next to the two of them, my jaw on the floor. Aside from the fact that I had no idea this guy had had a crush on me, much less "everyone," he was also one of the really good-looking guys at Tech when I was there.

The moment hung there. He said it as an off-hand, matter-of-fact comment, one that was a statement of fact from events that happened over a decade ago, but the comment stopped me. I wanted him to talk about it. I wanted to know what he meant. I wanted to rage about the unfairness of the statement, that had I known how different would my life had been? My god, would I have just made the same mistakes with this man that I had made with the other men I dated at the time? Or would I have learned the lessons in love I needed to learn much earlier? Would things have been different? Or the same? My god, tell me, would my life have turned out better?

I continued talking with the group when our picture was taken, a group of Techers in a mini-reunion at a friend's wedding so many years later. All the lives that had continued since those times in school, so many lives with different directions, so many choices made. The comment riding shotgun in my head as I chatted and laughed with these people.

We walked back into the banquet hall after the quiet of the balcony where we had our picture taken, the noise in the hall matching the noise in my head. The music loud in the back of the hall, people talking animatedly in the front.

And suddenly I stopped, the chaos and confusion of the moment gone.

I saw Kris.

He was sitting next to Fiona, the two of them laughing at something Kris had said. The rest of the evening mattered little, the questions I had about my classmate's comment no longer needing to be answered.

I made mistakes in college. I was unobservant and clueless and self-conscious and awkward and needy. I learned my lessons late, the lessons in love the hardest to learn.

But, I learned them.

And this man is the result of those hard-learned lessons. I couldn't ask for a better partner, friend, husband, lover.

Seek and you shall find


Louis Davidson Ricketts.

Been struggling for the last few days on what the D stood for in Louis D. Ricketts.

Yay, Wikipedia!

Oh, and Google, though the answer was on the third page.