onion maggots

I recently brought in my herbs from the garden and planted them in a cedar planter box under our living room window.  My rosemary was too dead to bring in, but my thyme and chives are doing alright after a week or so, or so I thought until today.

I was grooming my chives by pulling away dead leaves when I accidentally brought up a bunch of live ones.  After doing so, I noticed that the base looked a little bit like the green onions you buy at the store with stubby white roots, and thought Huh. I didn't know that.  And then the roots started moving.  For a moment I thought I was hallucinating, but quickly realized that there was something living in my chives and it looked like maggots.

After inspecting and disposing of the chive saboteurs that I had uprooted, I went to the internet to identify them as onion maggots.  My current approach is going to be keeping the chives warm and dry, but I'm curious to hear if other people have more direct remedies for this pest.

Worst case, my chives die off and I start new ones; they're easy to grow, so I won't be heartbroken.  If something like this happened to my beautiful little thyme plant, however, I would be very agitated.


In favor of "BigLaw"

Last Friday, my amazing little brother published an article in the Harvard Law Record entitled Want to Save the World? Do BigLaw! which has had mixed reception, including a rebuttal that was published in conjunction with it.

My brother has an intentionally inflammatory style for humor (see also: our childhood), but his point was this: if you can withstand the indulgent aspects of corporate culture, then you can do more good by making lots of money and donating it to effective charities than you can by donating your career to particular causes.

While I think that there always individual exceptions, I agree with his analysis.  The market has greater capacity for corporate lawyers than for public interest or government positions.  Additionally, the scope of influence for the latter two is usually limited to the nation in which the individual practices.  In the case of American public interest lawyers, the people benefiting from their services are usually American citizens or residents (legal or otherwise).

In all countries there are marginalized populations; these people deserve advocacy and legal protection.  However, if citizens of a nation wait until all of their fellow residents are happy and healthy before they look outside their own country to do good, then they will likely be waiting indefinitely.

The US is incredibly privileged.  We still have problems, but citizens of many, many other countries have it much, much worse off than even the poorest among us here.  We can choose to pay $3 for someone's lunch in America, or spend that same money on a Malaria net that saves a child's life [1].  It simply comes down to the most effective allotment of resources.  (And requires thinking globally instead of nationally.)

In the case of law, I think the numbers work out in favor of practicing corporate law and donating a percentage of your income.  Everyone must make their own choices, but I think if more people took this path, it wouldn't only be good for the recipients: lawyers practicing this lifestyle might begin to change corporate society, steering it away from consumerism and self-indulgence.

Press for his original article:
Above the Law: What Harvard Law Students Tell Themselves When The Demon Come

[1] Probabilistically, it actually takes more than that to save a life, since not everyone is guaranteed to get malaria; the AMF puts the figure at about $2,500/life.  In the US, that could be used for a fancy computer or a vacation.  It's also less than four month's net income for the average US food stamp recipient household.  The average food stamp recipient is gets $133.85/month, or less than $1.50/person/meal.  So the real comparison is helping to feed a family of four (in the US) for a little over a year vs. saving a life.  It's not so cut and dry, but I think the life still wins.


white keyboards (little moment of compulsion #7)

I have one of them fancy-pantsy mac keyboards at my office, and it bothers me beyond belief when the pristine white keys start to build up a border of brown.  When this happens on my keyboard, I generally just clean the one key that's particularly problematic, but today I broke down and meticulously worked over each key and the metal in between.

I took out the batteries so that I wouldn't end up with a terminal full of nonsense, but I'm still finding spots that need a bit more work like nhghjhgf that one.  It makes me shudder to think about the cleanliness of non-white keyboard keys, like the ones on my laptop.

professional face

I just redid my academic website, and I'm proud of the changes.  I stole design elements from Jaan, who used a modified Jekyll theme.  Before/after screenshots below, with old on the left and new on the right.  The CS web servers are going through a transition to a more secure system, so the changes won't be live for a bit.  I've debated getting a url for my academic webpage, or integrating it somehow with this blog, but I'm still not certain about what I want to do; it's nice to keep my personal rants and hijinks away from my professional front.


9/11 in NY

Today I was up in New York on regular business—reading group and my lab's group meeting.  When I arrived at Columbia, the main walk was covered in hundreds if not thousands of small American flags, and I remembered the date.  Throughout the day, it got lots of attention: people took pictures and there was even a pro-Palestine rally of some kind.

I was safely in California thirteen years ago, but I still remember waking up to the news and sitting on my parent's bed watching the smoke.  When a peer said that there was another attack at the Pentagon, I thought he was just trying to get attention.  So I was a little solemn today, as it made things a little more real, knowing that some percentage of the people around me had lived through the event in the city.

But then I witnessed something bizarre during the afternoon: a young woman plucking a handful of flags and then tossing them in the garbage with apparent distain.  I didn't know what to make of it.  Was she anti-American?  Was she an American citizen?  Was her family or her home country harmed by the US?  Was she somehow against the display of flags?  Did she lose family in 9/11 and was frustrated by the reminder?  It remains a mystery.


Sourland Spectacular

This morning NWC and I participated in the Sourland Spectacular road biking event, doing the 36 mile route.  It's the best biking in the area, and there are also a lot of small farms nearby, so several rest stops featured delicious local produce.  It was the longest bike route I've done, and the first athletic event I've ever done as an adult, though I wouldn't call it a race.

To make things more challenging, my front derailleur (part that shifts the gears) is broken, which meant I could only shift within the middle three gears.  It kept me from going to fast on the flats and downhills, but there were a couple uphills that were brutal because of it.

I finished in about 3 hours 45 minutes, including all four rest stops.  It wasn't great timing, but it wasn't embarrassing either.

People were very nice and encouraging, although one lady was a little unintentionally condescending in her encouragement.  Overall, it was very enjoyable and I wouldn't mind getting in shape for a proper race.


a motley of summer photos

I took a bunch of photos this summer, but I didn't post a lot, so here they are now.


This was my favorite shot.


Food & Garden

A bird made a nest in my dying peas.
Picked a bunch of wild raspberries (turned them into sorbet).
We're still getting okra from the garden.
A happy family of peppers.


Hanging with Sister Missionaries!
Wedding anniversary flowers.
Lots of Jenga.

YW Camp

Mah girls.
Lots of silly.