trois choses.

Thing 1: Come to our school!
After I wrote that spirited entry about supporting my college football team, I received an email from the computer science department at ASU. Apparently, they're making a brochure to try and tempt other people to come to their fine school, even geeky people who probably duck whenever a football comes near. They wanted information from me, basic stuff like my job and employer and a smiling photograph. I've been feeling pretty good about the quality of my education since I got this new job that requires me to actually use things I learned in college, and so I've even written a cute little testimonial that will tell prospective students that ASU is a good decision. Of course, they may not use my cheesy blurb, but I wrote it, unasked, just because I was feeling frisky.

I started thinking about the people they might have contacted for this assignment. Obviously, they're limited to the people they're still in touch with, and they probably didn't track down any flunkies. But the more I think about it, the more I think I got this email because I'm a girl. "Please, come to our school! You, too, ladies! This chick went here and look, she's only a little manly!" If I wanted to be really egotistical, I could toy with the idea that I might be bait for computer science boys. "Please, come to our school! We have girls that will understand what you're talking about, and they're only a little manly!"

I don't know why there aren't more girls in computer science. Maybe it's a gradual thing and other women are shy of entering a field where they'll be the minority. Maybe there's something to that "girls are bad at math" thing. I don't know. But I guess I'm doing my part now, a smiling female representative of the Appalachian State University computer science department. I'll try not to let it go to my head.

Thing 2: Bang!
I've completed another step in board game geekdom by actually purchasing my own obscure board games. My favorite is a spaghetti western game called Bang! I've played this with my sister-in-law and two nieces and it's always a good time. What's really funny is that you shoot people by playing a Bang! card against them, at which point you can say "I banged you." And then everybody giggles at the silly double entendre.

We were playing one night and my sister-in-law played a Bang! against my niece. "I banged you," she said with such sauce that we all giggled more than usual, except for my twelve-year-old niece, Sarah. There was a pause, before Sarah said confidently, "I know what that means." We laughed out loud at that.

Thing 3: Recipe exchange.
I participated in a recipe exchange recently. It was like those old chain letters I did when I was ten, except for a couple of differences: it was for grown-ups and I actually continued the chain. It was one of those things that threw me into a tizzy because of my lack of domesticity. Not only do I not know many good recipes, I don't know that many people that cook. So forwarding on to twenty people was out of the question. But I scrounged up an easy, but yummy recipe and eight or so people I thought might know how to use an oven. I felt very womanly in a truly unenlightened sense. I was even feeling bold enough to cook some salmon from a recipe I received in exchange. The grease burns on my arms were enough to put me back in my place, which ironically, is apparently somewhere outside the kitchen.


sleepy tiger.

I was jarred from a power yawn by the car in front of me. Oh man, what a yawn, eyes shut, full view of my fillings. I was doing an impression of a sleepy tiger. But then the sleepy tiger let up the pressure on the brake pedal and attacked a Nissan (too bad it wasn't an Impala). My next impression was of the kid from Home Alone.

I waved sheepishly at the driver of the Nissan, who was of course looking right at me. He pulled into the office park. Rather than pull over immediately, he drove down the winding road to his office. I struggled to keep up and wondered why he didn't stop at one of the many convenient places along the way. Finally, I was able to pull up beside him as he examined his rear bumper. I jumped out and dived into apologies. He shrugged and said I hadn't done any damage. "No harm, no foul." I breathed a sigh or relief that if I was going to be an idiot this morning, at least I was going to be around reasonable people. His bumper had scratches on it, but I guess they were old familiar ones to him.

I got back in my car and started it up to continue on my way to work. I was thinking about how it's good that there are still decent people around. The man tapped on my window.

"Do you not work here?" he gestured at the nearest office building.


"Oh. Well, thanks for stopping."

"No problem."

Hey, maybe I'm a decent person, too.



I was driving through an intersection this weekend when the SUV behind me started beeping vigorously. Startled, I looked around and tried to figure out what I had done wrong. The SUV pulled up into the lane next to me, and the people inside rolled down their windows and started yelling. I braced myself for profanities, insults, and a general order to turn in my driver's license. Instead, I heard "Whooo! App State! Whooo!"

Oh. Okay then, "Whooo!" right back at ya.

For the past couple of years, football has been a big deal at my Alma Mater, Appalachian State University. People who know that I went there, either by knowing me or reading the sticker on my car, imagine that I care. I mean, I care a little bit. I'm happy that my school is getting good publicity and recognition for something other than the cheesy Hot! Hot! Hot! video. But I never attended an ASU football game, and whenever we do win a big game, I find out about it by someone else congratulating me. I guess I'm supposed to act excited or even take some sort of credit for the win. Yes, they won because I went there. Of course, I do pull for the home team and I do root for ASU. But it's more in an after the fact sort of way. "Hey, we won? Cool."

While I got some congratulations over the national championship wins the past two years, the recent victory over Michigan has seemed to really get everyone in an uproar. I am sort of amused about all the attention. Strangers give me compliments on a game in which I didn't play, guys in SUVs honk at me. Everyone seems more enthused about it than I am. Ohio State fans have apparently been calling up the ASU campus bookstore and trying to order t-shirts. I bet I could drive through Ohio this week and get beeped at so much as to cause me to have a nervous breakdown. We made the front page of The New York Times and the cover of Sports Illustrated. But the neatest result of this whole Michigan State game was that now Division I-AA teams are now eligible to be nationally ranked. Of course, now that we've had our big win, we'll go back to beating teams like Lenoir-Rhyne, and so we probably won't get enough attention to break the top 25. Still, that's quite a legacy for the Mountaineers.

Even Wikipedia is becoming an ASU fan. I just imagine some undergrad bragging to his friends about "hacking" into Wiki to make the following change (click to read):

And then his friends say, "Dude, you misspelled 'awesome.'" Oh well, as long as we can play football.


biz cas.

I'm sure that to a lot of people, the invention of business casual (or as those of us who are hip and in the know like to call it, "biz cas") was a much needed relief. Some boss figured out that employees hated dressing in suits all the time, and since their business didn't really require people to be dressed to go to church with their grandmothers, they could improve morale all around by allowing slacks and polo shirts.

But then to some others, business casual is a burden. For while some bosses would not have the guts to require suits and ties for their employees, they're happy to require slacks and loafers. I'm speaking, of course, of software engineers.

It's stupid to make us dress up, and I'll tell you why. From what I understand, dressing up at work is about image. It's about creating the illusion of being professional. It's to impress other people into trusting you with their money. Some might argue that it makes you work harder when you feel professional. It makes me surly. Even if I were not naturally given to surliness, I would constantly be aware that I was wearing dress-up clothes. I would be distracted. And surly.

Back to image. So if we've established that you're trying to impress other people and you're trying to do it by gussying up a bunch of softare engineers, then you've already failed. Engineers should not be meeting customers. We became engineers because we're bad with people, and the machines understand us. Your clients majored in business in college, were popular in high school, and made fun of people who would become engineers. We don't like them, and they probably won't like us, no matter how starched our shirts are. It is in your best interest to keep us separated.

Our job is to sit in front of the computer and sweet talk it in a special language to do what you want. Your job is to supply us with caffeine drips and no reason to ever want to leave our desks and stop working. If our loafers are hurting our feet, you have failed, and there goes your willing slave. You may think we're updating software specification, but we're actually updating our resumes.

Give us jeans or give us death! We will happily be your devoted minions, hacking away on our off hours, too. Extend casual Friday to casual Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and we'll log in on Naked-At-Home Saturday and see if we can't get a little work done. We won't even complain when you make us fix your kid's iPod if we're allowed to do it in our Levis.

Please. Biz cas is for grown up frat boys. We think for a living. Don't make us surly.