retina displays and serif fonts

Currently, it's accepted that serif fonts are better for print and sans-serif are better for screens.  Will retina-type displays shift font preference on computers to serif fonts?



As a preface, I respect transgender and transexual folks.  It's a rough world, and it takes guts to redefine yourself like that.

But I don't like the term "transgender."  Identifying as transgender means you are accepting gender roles.  Men are one way, and women are another.  It means that if you are one sex, you identify with the roles associated with the other.  The thing is, I don't believe people should feel like something is wrong because they don't associate with their accepted gender roles.  (By that logic, I would totally be bigender.)  Instead, I think that gender roles should be eliminated or adapted to be made more inclusive.  People shouldn't feel broken for being themselves.

Identifying as transexual, on the other hand, is more of a physical matter.  You feel like you're in the wrong body.  I can't speak to that, and this post isn't really covering it, though the two are obviously closely intertwined.

The reason I bring this up is this post on growing up transgender in the LDS church.  I identified with lots of the gender issues the author covered.  Gender roles are huge in the LDS church.  Women and men are separated by the clothes they wear, the domestic and familial roles they're supposed to perform, and their roles in ordinances and other community endeavors.  When you're eight, boys get a blue book and girls get a pink/brown book.  Then, as soon as you're twelve, you're expected to spend an hour (Sunday services) or more (weeknight activities) each week in classes specifically for your gender.  Boys get the priesthood and girls don't.  Missions, callings, Temple.  Gender, gender, gender.

As a kid, I came home upset or crying many-a-time because I was too boyish.  Mostly, I wanted to do well in school (especially math) and have a career eventually (heaven forbid).  But, I also wanted to climb trees and play with plastic dinosaurs.  I didn't want to have my eyebrows plucked by other teenagers, plan my wedding, or babysit.  The thought crossed my mind that I should have been a boy, but I pushed it aside.  I like who I am, I told myself, I'm not the one that needs to change.  They need to change their expectations.

Gender roles should not make people feel broken.  They should not make them feel sad or limited.  So before I propose a genderless society, why is gender useful?  Are there instances where gender roles improve people or societies?  If so, I want to know.


garden days

N loves to tease me by saying "It's garden day!"  But, of course, almost every day is a garden day right now.  The corn is twice as tall as I am--no joke, pictures soon.  Then the weeds are constantly growing anywhere they can, and tomatos are rolling in like crazy.

I let the cilantro go to seed ages ago (right); we'll see if I'm capable of harvesting coriander.  Zucchinis were prolific for a while, but they've settled down.  I'm thinking of doing a second season of beans and maybe lettuce since those are done.  The few beans we had were delicious, but a mouse (I think) kept eating straight through the base of their stalks leaving us with long, withering stems with half-formed beans wrapped around our corn.  Something also attacked our eggplant, but I don't know what.  We've only had one blossom, and then it was silently gone.

A few lessons for next year: I want a tomato that's good for drying (I adore oil-soaked sun-dried tomatoes), and currant tomatoes are too tiny.  Yellow pear tomatoes are fun, but I think we'd be better off with a good red cherry tomato.  The Halliday's beefsteak tomatoes are a keeper, though.  Delicious, easy, and I'm betting that they're good for salsas and canning because they are relatively low on seeds.  The are kind of pinkish, though, but I think most good tomatoes are.

Below: one day's harvest.  Then below that: a harvest of tomatoes the very next day.


on uniforms and shirty-shirts

My wardrobe desperately needs an update. My newest pieces of clothes have all been gifts. The last items of clothing I bought were jeans, and that was sometime last year. I don't have any non-t-shirt summer shirts, and my two summer dresses fit awkwardly because they plunge too deeply and I have to do gymnastics in order to get them pinned up in a way that doesn't look terrible. My go-to-summer staple of tank top and cardigan is getting really, really old, especially in the current heat, where the last thing I want to be wearing is a cardigan. Need established: summer dresses or tops.

So now I look at my restrictions: they need to cover the shoulder for religious reasons, they need to not look terrible for aesthetic reasons, they need to be comfortable (including not deathly hot) and easy to wear for practical reasons, they need to be inexpensive for economic reasons, and they need to not require hours of in-person shopping for I-have-no-free-time-when-shops-are-open reasons. I'm doomed.

Being grumpy about all this, I've been making observations about men's clothing, at least in western culture--I'll be ignoring the anomalous instances of clothing brought in from other cultures. So let's just narrow the scope down to men's shirts. Men have three options: the button-down, the polo, and the t-shirt. You could argue that they also have the henley and the tank-top, but the henley is just a hybrid between the polo and the t-shirt, and the tank top is just a t-shirt without sleeves. Regardless of whether you call them three options or five, there are still a finite number of categories.

Admittedly, the button-down is versatile; it ranges from formal with frills to casual plaid camping shirts, but it's all the same construction. It uses a woven fabric, and just varies sleeve length and cut for the gradations of formality. It can come with or without pockets, have slightly different placements of buttons, have a graphic painted on the back, or could require cuff links. Again, there are lots of variations, but in the end, it's still a button-down shirt. The same applies to the others, but with fewer options. The western man pretty much has a uniform.

Now let's look at women's tops. Just searching on Amazon a few days ago, "Clothing & Accessories › Women › Tops & Tees › Timeless," I got the following oddities on the first page (of 48 tops, note that they update frequently so you'll probably get different ones). As the number one, I got a motley piece with a buttonless collar down to mid-chest, baggy fit, and sleeves that get pined up halfway up the forearm with snap-strips. (Colors: white left sleeve and collar, bronze left wrist and right hip, off-center bright pink in the middle, and bright orange on the right sleeve and as trim on the left side.) Not timeless, and certainly not easily classified.

Then we have a more respectable twisted top. I've seen several variants of these, but the twist is always different: shoulder, between the breasts, under breasts, natural waist, back, etc.. We also have a "rouched tie shoulder blouse" and a ruffled neckline fitted top. These are all very strange to me. Not only would I never wear them, I can't even begin to classify them. You wear them on the top of your body, that's all I can conclude. Women's tops don't have an easy classification system like men's tops do. Women can wear button-downs, t-shirts, and polos, like men, but women's clothing sellers also make liberal use of the very vague words "blouse," "shirt," and "top."

Back in college, a certain individual commented to my roommate, who was wearing a lovely blouse, saying the following: "Your's not very shirt-y." That is the quintessential problem with women's clothes: they don't know what they're supposed to be doing. I want to look feminine, but I hate all the hoops. Why can't clothes just be easy? I want to look nice without needing to spend time and energy on this problem. Aren't we civilized enough to have solved it already?

up for air: a beautiful, but messy, life

The are too many adjectives for this summer so far; so many that they end up contradicting each other and ending up saying not much at all.  (Kinda like the line about the new macbook pro at WWDC12 that cracked me up: "It's incredibly powerful, and yet remarkably portable."  Too many modifiers.)  Anyway, I'll try to spare you the adjectives and adverbs as best I can, lest this post read like a wordle.

Here's what's been going on, in roughly chronological order:

I've been back to work at hunch, playing with (messy and massive) eBay data.  I'm reading a lot on the commute: 84 Charing Cross Rd and sequel, Growing up AmishNudge, a fairy tale book.  I'm working on Cryptonomicon and The Blind Assassin right now.  I don't have a lot of time in the day--it's almost 12 hours from the time I leave until the time I get home, but I've learned scalacascading, and hadoop, not to mention delving deeper into probabilistic modeling.

N went for a 10-day research-ish trip to Kenya (Drought Monitor installation, etc.).  I missed him, of course, but I got to make the house extra nice for his return, which was fun.  I'm trying to keep it nice too, but that's a bigger challenge.  I've yet to find the perfect balance between anal-retentive and slovenly.

I went to a wedding of two dear friends from college; it was a perfect day and a beautiful wedding.  I also liked seeing so many of my college friends.  I'm working on a wedding quilt for them, but at this point it'll be more like a 1-year-anniversary quilt.  I've got another wedding this month--thankfully it's a low year for weddings.

I caught a baby bunny.  It was much like last year, except the bunny was even smaller (and more stupid) and had a sibling the same size.  It was running in circles in the common garden area and it tired itself out; all I needed to do was bend over and pick it up.  And it ended up outside the community garden this time.  A week later I saw them again, and boy were they a lot faster in running away.

I harvested my first zucchini--10" long.  And then a slew more of them.  And then I made five and a half pints of zucchini relish, my great aunt Elva's recipe.  I tried canning once before--unless you count freezer jam, in which I've done it twice.  Anyway, I tried making pickles, but I was too afraid to eat them, so I just threw them out, even if they were probably alright.  This time, I was obsessive, and I'm sure the relish turned out non-lethal, but I'll have to wait a few months to find out.

I stopped having headaches from my concussion.  And then got a handful more, spaced out.  I think they had more to do with my commute and not eating as regularly those days than the concussion.  At this point I'm pretty much 100% back; even the scar on my cheek is starting to fade nicely.

I learned that lisianthus are called lisianthus.  I've liked these flowers for a while, but I never knew what to call them, and I bought a bouquet of them a flower wholesaler in NYC that's on my way to/from work.  They didn't last cut as long as other flowers have, but that might have been due to my lugging them about NY and on the train, all in hot weather.  I might get some flower seeds for my garden next year, lisianthus or otherwise.

My sister-in-law had her second child, so I have a niece!  I'll get to see their whole family in about two months, so I'm excited for that.

Productivity-wise, I've been playing with a bunch of new things: ActiveInbox and Timing, both of which have free variants that don't expire.  I've also played with Delicious Library 2 to organize and catalog my books.

As I said, lots of stuff going on.  And we've got over half the summer to go...