Ashley Richards

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I voted!

October 28th, 2008 Posted in Stuff

I finally got my ballot in the mail today. I got to vote for President and NO on 8! Hopefully I’ll be able to get it back to San Jose by 8pm on Nov 4.

Funny thing is that they give you an “I voted” sticker. I’ll proudly wear mine around Vancouver next Tuesday.

Public Service Announcement

May 20th, 2008 Posted in Stuff


by beneneuman
Tip 1 – Avoid Antibiotics, but take probiotics if you do.
Don’t ever go on an antibiotic unless it’s absolutely necessary. And when you do, take a probiotic. You don’t want to end up with what I have.

During my trip to Costa Rica I got sick and the ship doctor put me on cipro (yes the anthrax drug). And it was lovely. It got me home and feeling fine in no time because it killed off all the nasty bacteria. Bad thing was, it killed off all the good ones too. So lesson learned, take a probiotic whenever you have to take an antibiotic. Or if you have a stomach infection, ask your doctor about Florastor first to avoid the antibiotic (but that wasn’t an option for me.)

Tip 2 – Go to the doctor if your stomach is weird.
Anyway, a few weeks pass and my stomach was not completely right. But I’ve always had a sensitive tummy. I kept putting off going to the doctor because I thought it was something I ate.

Tip 3 – Challenge a doctor if you think they’re wrong.
I went to a doctor, not my usual one, and because my symptoms weren’t typical she chalked it up to a virus. Stomach pain is never good sweetie. I should have pressed her on the whole fact that I took cipro. If you’re not going to be an advocate for your health, who will? Well, after a trip to emergency we figure out I have c. difficile.

Tip 4 – Don’t do too much research on the internet.
I don’t think I have it as bad as some people get it. But reading the internet about what you have will make you starting thinking that you have all the bad symptoms when you don’t and that you’re going to die. Yes I may be acting like Camille. But I’m still able to go to work at my new job (granted it’s been rather sporadic of which I feel very guilty) despite the tiredness and stomach weirdness. Other people don’t sound as lucky.

Tip 5 – WASH YOUR HANDS
Before you eat. Before you touch your keyboard or mouse. After touching the handrail on the bus that the snotty guy who just coughed in to hands touched. I’m not talking about the anti-germ soaps; just use normal soap and water. I’m not suggesting you turn into Monk, but I’ve seen people leave bathrooms without washing their hands. Imagine what they might have, what they’re touching and what you’re touching.

Well I think that’s all that I’ve learned so far. And I think I’m on my way back to normal. I’m on my second course of Flagyl and now trying the Florastor along with the bacteria probiotic. It’s really not a fun thing to deal with.

Image by beneneuman

No mobile

February 29th, 2008 Posted in Stuff

I cut the umbilical chord today and cancelled my U.S. mobile phone account. We didn’t know that all calls would be charged at 69 cents/minutes, and had to pay over $200 this month. So I found it kinda funny that they tried to upsell me to a North America plan where I’d pay roaming fees if I went outside of Vancouver. Thankfully I won’t have to pay the $175 early cancellation fee as long as I fax them proof of residency in Canada. Yay!  But if you’re trying to text or phone me at that number…who knows who will answer it.

And we’re back

February 8th, 2008 Posted in Stuff

We’re all moved in and finally have net access again. It took about a week to get the adsl box, but it was waaaay too long considering our building is pre-wired. I felt completely out of it, didn’t know what was going on – CNN and BBC News just don’t cover enough tech and blogs for me. (But I could engorge on politics until I threw up of course.) Also, not having net access makes it incredibly hard to work on freelance projects.

As much as I love my Tivo (it’s a family pet now), the UI and programming leads something to be desired. They seem reluctant to change the top-level navigation to make it more intuitive. I understand not wanting people to have to relearn where things are, but right now a lot of the categories just don’t make any sense. I had to go online to find out how to change my cable provider. It was in a lovely category that leads you to believe you’re going to erase all your preferences..lovely. Well because we moved, it made all our programs null-and-void because they’re specific to a channel and not to first run program of same name – lame! Now I have to wait for it to download the next 2 weeks of shows before I can re-add our old list. Anyway, 4 hours, and several downloads later, it’s somewhat functional.

Luckily those were the hiccups to our move-in. The only other one was that Brendon had to go down to the border to release our belonging from customs because the moving company fraked up. It could have been a lot worse and inconvienent. Now I can focus on getting back to work.

The People in Your Neighbourhood

December 10th, 2006 Posted in Stuff

In Mountain View there are characters I see on a regular basis. The homeless man that dances with an invisible partner. The rotund bearded man who wears a kilt and leather wide-brimmed hat and waits for the bus to get to his high-tech job. (Yes, he’s in high-tech; I’ve seen him waiting to go home in front of a Mountain View company.) However, the characters from my childhood hold more magic for some reason.

Pete and RePete

Growing up in Little Falls, New Jersey, just 30 minutes outside of the city (New York City – is there any other?) it felt very much like a small town at times. Everyone pretty much knew everyone else, or you at least knew of everyone else.

Two characters everyone knew were the twins that we would see walking around town together all the time. We called them Pete and RePete. I have no idea if one of them was even called Pete. That is what we called them. And their names were passed from one generation of children to the next.

In my memory they’re walking down Main Street wearing dark grey work pants and dark grey jackets (always pressed), carrying lunch pails or a book (it was something), brown short-cropped hair, and horn rimmed glasses. They were completely synchronous – walked in step, swaying their arms at the same pace. They seemed to have the same internal beat – their hearts probably had beat at the same rate since they were in utero and everything else just fell into place. Seemingly, they were inseparable and one-in-the-same.

Riding through town in the backseat of my parent’s sky blue Chevy Caprice, I’d do some Pete/RePete spotting. It was a little treat to watch them in their little world. It meant my world was as it should be with the reassuring consistency of Pete and RePete walking to and from work together. (I had no idea where they were going, but as they were adults they must have been on their way to work or back home from it. That’s what adults do.) And yet, I always found myself asking what would it be like to always have another person with you – never being alone? If one died, how would the other survive if he’s never been alone in his entire life?

Over the years, white streaks appeared on the sides of their heads. They seemed to do aging synchronously too. Slowly I saw less and less of them. Did they retire? Or was it as I grew older my daily route changed and theirs didn’t? I don’t know what happened to them. Did they ever know we called them Pete and Re-Pete? They must have.

Mr. Mean-Green

Another character lived on my street. We called him Mr. Mean-Green. He was probably more a neighbourhood character, rather than a town character. He was obsessed with his lawn and garden, and would stand guard over it while sitting on his front porch. If we got an inch too close to his front lawn, he would glare. God forbid we ever stepped on that lawn. Boy, would we get yelled at, or worse yet he’d talk to our parents. We wouldn’t even dare bring a dog anywhere near that lawn. They had small terriers, but they never pooped on that lawn. That’s what the neighbours’ lawns were for. So even though there was a sidewalk there, I would cross the street just to avoid going anywhere near Mean-Green land.

The formidable Mr. Mean-Green was no match for my curiosity though. I don’t know if he ever knew about my explorations of his backyard. I can only imagine that he didn’t, because I don’t remember my mom giving me a talking-to about them. You see there was an unfortified entry point into his backyard. I lived on the side of the street that had fairly level properties. On the other side of the street, where he lived, the backyards dropped off into a gully that had a brook running through it. This brook was the highway to adventure. On the weekends I would follow the older kids through tunnels to areas yet unexplored by me. During the week while they were in school, I would go back to the brook to the places we had been.

One of the places the older kids always by-passed was Mr. Mean-Green’s portion of the gully. They always stayed in the brook there where it decided to dig deeper into the ground, so that we would have had to climb up vertical walls to get out. But I would peak over the edge of the brook while my older sister begged me to keep up. To me it looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Vast areas of perfectly even, soft, green grass, with a bridge over the brook that led to a secluded garden area rimmed with flowers. It was too much temptation for a little girl to resist. So one Spring weekday, I climbed out of the brook to the garden. I didn’t stay too long. But it was so exciting to be in the forbidden territory where there was a table set surrounded by flowers that was just dying to be used for tea parties. Oh Alice would have loved this place, and a little girl could play tea party for hours.

Mrs. Mean-Green must have spotted me perched up on her look-out, the back porch. She started coming down the hill with her terriers. I was terrified of dogs, even small ones that I could have crushed just by sitting on them. My memory gets hazy here. I can’t remember if she talked to me or if I got away. I do remember clambering down the side of the brook and jumping from rock to rock to reach the safety of the Freeland’s portion of the brook, where I could run back home undetected. But silly little me returned a few more times that Spring to play. After that Spring I never got out of the brook there again. Summers meant spending the day at the pool, and by fall it was time for full days of school. So the weekends were spent with the more cautious older kids who never ventured into Mean-Green land.

There are more characters like the man that supposedly chased kids out of his yard with a shot gun and the purple house lady. But this post is getting too long and travelling down memory lane is probably boring for anyone other than me.

How long has it been?

October 9th, 2006 Posted in Stuff

I know I’m not the greatest at keeping in touch with people, but today proved to me that I really need to try harder. Brendon told me that our friends started a new website called dextercruise.com. Now neither one of their names is Dexter, but Cruise is their last name. Um, well, it’s been way too long since I talked to Holly and Alex. Dexter is their new, adorable, baby boy.

Sad thing is that I kept saying I need to email Holly and the glass vase she made for me as a going away present is sitting right in front of me. And I kept putting off trying to find her email address (too many computers not one place for email addresses). Hopefully they’ll be in Vancouver this year for Christmas.

Remembrance of Things Past

September 27th, 2006 Posted in Stuff

It’s a little strange when someone from your past gets in contact with you out of nowhere. It’s happened a few times with me. These were people that I knew either since I was about seven or since high school. First, all these things that I had long forgot come floating to the top of my memory. Then emails go back and forth, but it’s not until you talk to someone on the phone that you get a sense of who they are now. 10-15 years is a huge chunk of time. People change, but in some ways they don’t. So the conversations can feel like I’m talking to a friend of a friend. I feel like I know them because I’ve heard all the stories about them through my friend (in this case my 15-year old self). But once I start talking to them they’re different from who I thought they’d be. In some ways my impressions were correct, but then they say something that makes me think, “Who are you?!” And in the next breath they say something that sounds just like the person you knew, and it’s “Oh okay, it is you.”

Silicon Valley’s Having a Baby Boom

June 28th, 2006 Posted in Stuff

It may be that I have baby head, but I can’t help but notice that every other woman here is pregnant. At work, we’re welcoming at least one baby a day! (Seriously, someone talked with HR and crunched the numbers – it’s one baby a day.) Walk around downtown Mountain View during dinner, and you’ll see woman sporting either pregnant bellies or newborns. And Google added a weekly $100  waiters-on-wheels benefit for their pregnant employees – guess they feel they should feed them when they’re working at midnight and the kitchen’s not open??
So what’s brought on this baby boom?

  • More people that can afford to raise children? It’s not just Google-aires that are getting preggers.
  • More women in the valley? Google’s campaign to get more women couldn’t have worked that quickly.
  • The geeks are growing up and (gasp!) they’re getting to the edge of childbearing years?

I’m expecting to see Playdate networking events soon.

* Brendon has informed me that we won’t be adding to the boom ourselves anytime soon.

Katrina PeopleFinder Needs Volunteers – Data Entry & Tech

September 5th, 2005 Posted in Stuff

Feel like you want to do more than just give money? Katrina PeopleFinder Project needs people to do:

  1. Data Entry – Almost anyone with a computer and internet connection can do this. Input missing and found info by hand into a form.
  2. Tech – Automate data interchange between survivor databases
  3. Marketing – Get the word out once search functionality is in place

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If knowledge is conversation – how can we talk?

August 22nd, 2005 Posted in Stuff

David Weinberger wrote today, “Knowledge is the neverending conversation.” I can’t help but ask my same question from the other week – how can we have that neverending conversation if we’re unable to exchange knowledge because we’re speaking/writing in different languages. We are able to translate on-the-fly, but we just need to take it one step further.

Once we’re able to understand what each other is saying will we be able to come to a better understanding of each other.