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Has anyone on my friends list had the experience of negotiating a "pain and suffering" award from an insurance company? I have a friend who's about to get an offer of such (car accident) and is curious about what, if anything, he can do to improve his negotiating position.
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This seems like the kind of thing my friends list might know about: Can anyone point me to areas near Boston (30 minute drive) where tree climbing is either legal, or basically accepted by the local powers that be? I've had several recommendations (Mt. Auburn Cemetary, Arnold Arboretum) but my understanding is that the custodians of those areas really don't want you doing it. Any thoughts/suggestions?


May. 30th, 2007 04:48 pm
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Just a quick note to say that we're back in Boston. Paris was neat, and tiring, and I've made notes for a longer series of posts about the trip that I hope I'll do at some point (though the smart money is probably against :-} :-{). Still, glad to be home, and hoping my body can re-adjust to the time zone shift without too much problem (though staying awake for six extra hours for a time zone adjustment has *got* to be easier than staying awake for *eighteen*! :-}).
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So inspired by [livejournal.com profile] coraline's post of the same meme, I offer you the chance to ask me questions. If there's anything you've desperately wanted to know about me for the last five years (or minutes), now's your chance. Comments are screened, but let me know if you want me to keep them that way. Otherwise I'll do whatever combination of screening and unscreening my sense of humor and wish for privacy require :-}.

(There's a way in which I feel silly hiding behind a meme, as I actively enjoy answering people's questions about me; I often learn a lot in the answering. But I'll pretend to be a sheep. Baa! Baa! :-}).
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So conversation in a post over in [livejournal.com profile] psongster's journal made me realize that I'd like to have an easily referenceable place on the web for [livejournal.com profile] psongster's and my Statement of Intentions (think "Vows" with an implicit acknowledgment of both changes that happen in life and the possibility of overwhelming challenges that override a person's will, not matter how strong, to hold to a particular course). This is mostly for my own use, and I suspect I'm biased on how neat I think they are, so I'll put it behind a cut. )But I continue to think that they're pretty cool.
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In case folks haven't heard: There's going to be a wonderful singer-songwriter performing at the Arlington UU church this Saturday. He's got both funny songs, and very spiritual songs, in a way that celebrates the joy present in life when you actually pay attention to it (and, to answer the obvious question, he's not particularly Christian, at least in his music). You can get some feel for his music if you go to http://petermayer.net/music; you can play the beginnings of his songs there directly. I'd recommend "Molly O'Malleys", "The Birthday Party", "God is a River", and "The Introvert Song" to give a sense of his range. But I will say that I just liked him before I saw him perform live, and was blown away when I saw the live performance.

This concert is being produced by [livejournal.com profile] psongster (and hence indirectly, at least financially, by me as well) but we're not going to make any money on it--profit beyond expenses goes straight to Peter. We just liked his music enough to want to share him with everyone we know. You can get tickets from us before the concert for $12; they're $15 at the door. If you send us a check we'll hold tickets at the pre-concert price at the door; you can also buy them at either The Book Rack or Wood & Strings in Arlington Center (13 Medford Street or 439 Mass Ave, respectively). It's at the First Parish UU Church in Arlington @ 7:30pm on Saturday 3/10; that's at the intersection of Rt. 60 and Mass Ave in Arlington (630 Massachusetts Avenue). Parking shouldn't be too hard to find; there's a municipal lot across Mass Ave from the church, and another bigger one catty-cornered from the church behind the set of shops on that side of Mass Ave. Ping me or [livejournal.com profile] psongster if you have any other questions. Hope to see you there!
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[livejournal.com profile] psongster and I were debating what to do for my birthday this year, and as
usual :-} I was looking for something slightly different. But since
I've been looking for something slightly different the past couple of
years, it's been a while since we had a simple, large party. And my
birthday falls on a Saturday this year, which is very convenient for
such purposes. So this year, a return to the default: we're throwing
our house open to all my friends Saturday, December 30th; I hope you
can join me.

No gifts, please, though you're welcome to bring contributions of
food. Lori's providing a birthday cake or two and some other food and
drink, but we can always use more to eat.

The party will start at 7:00, and partners and children and other
significant others are welcome. If you'd like to bring someone else
you think I'd enjoy, that's probably fine, but check with Lori or me
first (contrary to our wishes, the house isn't infinitely large).

Positive RSVPs are appreciated but not required. (We know that at
this time of year many people are out of town or partied out, so it
would be nice to know who to look forward to seeing.) If you need
directions, ping me by email. If you have any other questions, please
let me know.

And we hope we'll see you on the 30th!
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    I can see the lights in the distance
    Trembling in the dark cloak of night
    Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
    A waltz on All Souls Night

                   Loreena McKennit

Honor and peace to all in this season.
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So, for reasons I'll explain below (but count as existential meanderings, so they're behind a cut), I'm looking to do favors for people. Is there a favor I can do for you? Ideally, it'd be something that improves your life in some measurable way, but life maintenance stuff is fine, too. Either comment on this journal entry or email me (email on userinfo page) and let me know if there's something I can do. I have a car, I'm free during the day on Mondays & Fridays as well as the weekends, am reasonably strong and reasonably intelligent, have a good science background, and know some aspects of computers well. (And there may be other ways in which I can be useful--you don't need to limit yourself to those areas).

Please note that this post is for selfish (life exploration, but still Randy-centered) reasons, and thus I am not committing to do all the favors asked of me (though dependent on number and difficulty, my intent is positive). But because it's for Randy-centered reasons, I'd encourage you to ask even if you don't know me well--there's a reasonable chance I'll say yes anyway, and doing favors for people I don't know is in some ways more pure data than for people I do know (i.e. you'd be doing me a favor by asking).

The Background )

So what can I do for you?
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[livejournal.com profile] ruthling gave this to me a very long time ago, and I've
been lame (and, if I'm being fair, out of town). But here are the
questions and the answers. If you'd like me to ask you some
questions, tag me and I'll try to come up with something :-} (I may be
a little slow; life's full right now).

1. why don't you post more often?
2. tell me about something cool and new you've discovered (but not the
restaurant [livejournal.com profile] psongster just posted about)
3. If you could choose, would you prefer to never be sad or never be
disgusted again?
4. if you opened a restaurant, what would it serve?
5. planes, trains or automobiles?

Answers )
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I'm back on the ground after an all day flight, so now I can join in the chorus of ....

Happy Beltane!!
randysmith: (Default)
This strikes me as sorta neat. Click through and telling me what words you associate with me, and then tell me who you are, or not.

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So I recently discovered that my company reserves the right to monitor electronic communications (because they blocked some sites that were both against the company code of conduct and were being accessed). This puts me in a dilemma. I don't particularly care for my own sake if they know what I read from work--I'm happy to take whatever negative consequences come from that. But sometimes I read things that are private to other people, and I don't know what level of care to take there. My email I access through https from a computer I own and control, so I think that's basically safe. But my friends list is viewed over an open HTTP connection.

I'll note that my best guess is that this isn't a problem. I can't imagine my company using any information personal to me or my friends; I both think basically well of them (for a large company) and I don't see the motivation. Why should they go to the trouble of making trouble for someone they don't know when it won't gain them anything? But I'm not sure I should be making that decision for other people.

So I turn to my friends list. How do you deal with the issue of your employer monitoring web accesses? Do you avoid reading your friends list from work? Do you do some funky nerd thing to keep them from being able to see it? Or do you do something else? This inquiring mind wants to know :-}.

(Obviously, if this bothers you on a personal level, let me know, and I'll stop reading your journal from work. Note that this'll mean I'm more likely to miss stuff in your journal, and certainly won't respond as quickly to it).
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The questions:

1. Is there a personality trait that will always make you irrationally hate someone? What is it?
2. Conversely, is there a personality trait that will draw you to someone and make you forgive almost anything else about them?
3. What's your dream job?
4. If you could change one thing about yourself (emotional, mental, physical, you name it) what would you change?
5. If you could be any movie or literary figure for just one day, who would it be and why?

The Answers )

(As per usual, if you want me to ask you questions and didn't catch the first round, fire away in comments)
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Bonfires dot the rolling hillsides
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
Moving to the Pagan sound.

The rest of the lyrics )

All Soul's Night
by Loreena McKennitt

This song is one of the few that never fails to lift me up and out of myself when I'm feeling down. I haven't listened to it much lately, which is a really a shame--I may have gotten the idea that I should only listen to it when it's seasonally appropriate. Well, it's now seasonally appropriate, and very beautiful, and I wanted to share it.

Happy Samhain, all!
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[livejournal.com profile] beah has requested of me ten things that make me happy. Therefore ... :-}

  • A long bike ride to somewhere I've never been before.
  • Swimming in rough ocean surf.
  • Learning a new way of thinking.
  • [livejournal.com profile] psongster being really happy with her life. This actually applies to anyone I'm close to, but from [livejournal.com profile] psongster it's fire-hose strength :-}.
  • Being quiet and open by myself to the world around me (usually in nature, but it can happen in cities too).
  • Solving a hard intellectual problem (usually Math, CS, or programming).
  • Coming up with an random idea someone finds useful. This could be subtitled "My ADD being an asset, not a liability" :-}.
  • Doing some house improvement, even a very small one; replacing a bad light fixture counts. This is in contrast to house maintenance, which does not make me happy.
  • Meeting and learning about a neat new person.
  • Being understood.

I don't like the tagging concept, so I'll invite people instead. [livejournal.com profile] brynndragon, [livejournal.com profile] zebediah, [livejournal.com profile] fraterrius, [livejournal.com profile] hissilliness, and [livejournal.com profile] damselfrog: If you would enjoy doing so, post ten things that make you happy; otherwise, don't :-}.
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So [livejournal.com profile] psongster and I just got a letter from the IRS. It wasn't the most cogent piece of writing, but it seemed to be saying that we made a mistake on our taxes and owed them more money (or less of a refund). Our initial reaction was to shrug and say "ok"; doing the taxes this year was an incredible pain and neither of us had any desire to dive back into spreadsheet/instructions/financial hell. But I wasn't completely sure that it really didn't require any action on our part, and if they were going to do something really nasty if we didn't do something that would be worth avoiding. So I pulled out the photocopies of our tax returns and started chasing numbers.

They gave us $600.

Yes, you heard that right. We *had* made an error, and they *did* catch it. And they unilaterally altered the amount of our refund in response to the error, increasing it by $600. They say we have the right to appeal the change to the Tax Court. We'll think about it and get back to them :-}.

I'm not sure what I'm more amused by--the fact that the IRS is giving money back, or that my first reading made me think that we owed more money. Mostly the second, I think--I see the IRS as having basically good intentions (a little defensive, maybe, but I probably would be too if I had that job).
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Two posts I want to link to in one day; the world is clearly ending :-}. This time it's [livejournal.com profile] cmeckhardt who's written up her own thoughts on communication through reference to shared experience, what are the common kinds of shared (and not-shared) experience, and how one can increase one's ability to communicate with other people by intelligent management of shared contexts. An interesting read.
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[livejournal.com profile] psongster has written a "research report" on a book surveying what is known about happiness by a British economist (Richard Layard). I found her post quite interesting, and suspect I'd find the book interesting as well (and since it's in my house, I'll probably read it). But meanwhile, I wanted to make folks aware of her summary. Neat stuff.
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So a strange muse took ahold of me the other day, and I requested [livejournal.com profile] ruthling to do the interview meme for me (actually, I was curious what questions she'd ask). The results are here. )

So if you'd like me to interview you, post that request as a comment to this entry, and I'll respond with five questions of things I'd like to know about you (warning: life is busy right now, so I may take a bit to get back to you). You'll then post those questions and your answers in your journal, with the same offer. Don't worry, this meme's been going around for a long while--it won't go exponential on us :-}.