Help sunset provisions of the Patriot Act!

Some of the provisions of the Patriot Act are up for renewal, and so Congress is debating whether to renew them or not. I’d like to see them expire, so I wrote a letter to my Senators and Representative, which is actually pretty darn easy to do and makes me feel more involved in the government. You should do it too!

First thing to do is to do a little research and write your letter. I found information about this at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which led me to a coalition of groups opposed to the Patriot Act (Patriots to restore Checks and Balances). Looking at these sites (and a few news articles) led me to write the following letter:

I would urge you to consider supporting the Security and Freedom Enhancement (SAFE) Act introduced by Senators Craig, Sununu, and Durbin. This act would add some checks and balances to some provisions of the Patriot Act and would help protect the civil liberties of all Americans. When the Patriot Act was passed in 2001 (a mere 45 days after the terrorist attacks of September 11), Congress voted to make the most extreme provisions expire in December 2005 so that they could be reviewed, and now is the time to review and curtail them. The bipartisan group Patriots to restore Checks and Balances (with members such as Grover Norquist and Bob Barr) is in favor of this bill and other efforts to maintain our civil liberties in the face of the Patriot Act.

I would be most interested to hear your thoughts on civil liberties and the Patriot Act. Thank you for your time.

It’s not a great letter, but it gets the point across. After that, it’s easy to go to and to find your representatives and write them (they all have email forms to contact them). My representatives are:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
Senator John Cornyn
Representative Michael McCaul

(anyone in Texas has the same senators, but probably a different representative, unless (for example) you live in my apartment complex 🙂 )

So take 10 minutes and write them. Maybe this isn’t important to you, but when an issue that is important comes up, let them know!

weekend, stuff

(I’m not very good at coming up with subjects…)

So the weekend was decent, I guess. Even just being 2 years removed from Rice drastically reduced the number of people I knew at Beer-Bike (and WRC didn’t even sweep! 😦 ) I took some pictures, which I’ll put up sometime this week, hopefully. I did put up pictures from Easter – you can find them here.

“Sin City”…yikes. It was a pretty good movie, despite all the violence and gore (and those don’t usually bother me too much, but it definitely bothered me this time…not for the faint of heart or stomach). I like Alexis Bledel 🙂 Actually, I found out she’s from Houston (thanks to IMDB). Neat!

Despite not getting enough sleep over the weekend, I felt better than I did during the week, and now I’m feeling blah again, which leads me to believe that stress is really the problem. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. Although things are going a little better at work, so hopefully that’ll help some.

This week is robolab competition week, so I’m busy monday, tuesday, thursday nights working on it (and friday is the competition!) Things went OK last night – we’re trying to be careful to make sure things work, as opposed to trying every single task and having none of them work (like what happened last year). Tonight I think we’re gonna do calibration and some test runs on the real board. Wish us luck!

The pope’s passing

Pope John Paul II passed away this weekend (which, unless you were in a cave on Mars with your ears shut, you probably heard already…), may he rest in peace. There’s a strong tendency to not want to speak ill of the dead, which made me hesitate to write this, but I think it’s important to not whitewash history. This pope was very conservative (opposition to the war in Iraq and the death penalty notwithstanding), and not supportive of gay rights at all (the church has been supporting efforts to pass constitutional bans on gay marriage and such). There are some good articles at Daily Kos and The Advocate. Here is the document released by the Vatican in 1986 talking about gays.

wow, I really can’t think of one! oh well…

So I managed to get to bed at a semi-reasonable time last night, and I feel pretty good so far today. Driving to Houston should be fun. Unfortunately, we can’t listen to wildrice13‘s iPod Mini because my Prius doesn’t have a tape player! Oh well…

Gmail announced (and I don’t think it’s an April Fools thing…) that they’re raising their storage from 1Gb to 2GB, which might seal the deal for me. I love Gmail. Also, they have a cute April Fools thing where they’re raising your available storage continuously. Check it out!

Robolab went well last night – accomplished two more tasks. And I’m gonna be the “commander”, deciding what tasks to tackle and what to give up on during th ecompetition. So I need to memorize the point values and time it takes to do them 🙂

Work’s going decently, although still a long way to go. Although our stock is not so happy today. Sorry!

Evita is good music. Never seen the musical (although I did like the Simpsons version!), but David liked it, and we should see it together at some point.

Wildflowers along the highways and on campus really cheer me up, more than they should, I think. They’re just so colorful and full of life. Anyway, it’s nice pick-me-up to see them every morning 🙂

Hopefully this weekend will be fun. And I’ll get some good pictures.

I’m like totally out of thoughts. So, have a good weekend, all!

good beer-bike jack

So every year Rice has Beer-Bike, and during the week before (Willy Week), the residential colleges “jack” each other (mess with them in a not too destructive manner).

Someone from Wiess put Martel up on eBay! The eBay page is here, and I’ve included an image below for posterity (since eBay is bound to shut it down…)

Martel on eBay

busy busy busy!

(and yes, the subject is a slight reference to Vonnegut. Good, weird stuff that I haven’t read in a while…)

I’m busy. Pretty darn busy. And that’s starting to stress me out at times. Here’s a list of things I’m currently doing:

– I’m involved in a long project at work that is not going particularly well. Some days I don’t make progress, and some days I do, but the ratio of progress I make to progress that needs to get done is like one percent or something.

– I’m working on ROBOLAB stuff. Last night we met for the first time (well, the first time I was there) and had a good time. Kyle & David worked out a system to put balls in the basket. Jonathan built a super-sturdy wall, and I programmed the “Rocky” music (*hums “Rocky” music because it’s darn catchy!). (although Jonathan and I did do some other stuff!) It’s going pretty well, and I’m meeting with people again tomorrow. The competition is a week from Friday, and here is a list of the tasks.

– I’m working on the TiVo HME challenge. I’m getting close to done with my application, which lets you view galleries on your TiVo (for example, my gallery!)

– For a short while, I was working on a style to submit to the LiveJournal style competition – luckily I realized there was no way I was gonna get it done in time.

As part of a work thing, I took the test associated with the book Now, Discover Your Strengths”, and my top strength was:

Adaptability: People strong in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.

which is a reasonable description of me. So, I don’t mind as much when I have many tasks to do at work, or when things keep coming up. However, this is the only project I’m working on, which doesn’t give me much chance to adapt, as it were. And I can’t switch between things that are keeping me busy, because they’re either work tasks or home tasks.

What I need to do better is not let it get me down when work doesn’t go well. This is surprisingly hard to do, as I’m pretty invested in my job and believe in the product (and the project I’m working on), but there are more ways of being successful in life than just job-related stuff.

Hmm. I came in this morning really wanting to post, and I think I got all my thoughts out there. This weekend is Beer-BikeWill Rice Will Sweep!

Easter weekend

So the weekend was pretty good – for details, I’ll refer you to djedi. I took some pictures of people, and lots of the nephews hunting for Easter eggs that I’ll hopefully find time to put up this week. A few random thoughts about the weekend:

– I played tennis and then basketball (around the world, 21, and then 2 on 2) on Saturday. That’s the most exercise I’ve gotten in a while, and I was really sore Saturday and Sunday (mostly better today, though).

– If you’re driving around here, check out the wildflowers! I saw a bunch on the way down and back, but they’re along MoPac and I-35 as well. Good stuff – makes me feel like spring is here, even though it can still be kinda cold.

– *counts to self* 11 people is a lot to have in a house for a weekend – I still get overwhelmed at times. There’s always something going on, people trying to get a game of something together, or watch a movie, or go out and grab something. I’m more used to it than I was at first, but it’s like crazy different from my family in that aspect.

– My sister Carrie got confirmed this weekend – congratulations!

Busy week ahead of me – game night tonight, normal volunteer stuff on Wednesday, and I said I’d work on robolab stuff (we have an internal competition coming up two weeks from last friday, and I perhaps foolishly signed up to be in a group. It’s a lot of fun, but finding the time to work on it is difficult…) tuesday and thursday nights. And friday we leave for beer-bike. So, yikes!

Hopefully I’ll make some progress at work today. That would rock!