Personal stuff

I grew up in Riverside, California, at just the right time. I could walk anywhere - the mall, Sav-On, school, the library, the Wienerschnitzel, anywhere important. Later on I went to UCLA. Even later I went to the University of Arkansas.

Eventually, I married a physics professor at the U of A (more about him can be found on his own page). We settled down a bit in Fayetteville, and now we have two kids.

Before all that, I enjoyed a TV show called Scarecrow and Mrs. King. When my oldest child was born, I found myself at home a lot playing with our Mac IIsi. For kicks, I taught myself how to make web pages. Things were a lot simpler then, believe me. I've seen html evolve from simple mark-up to the complicated mess it is today. At any rate, I made myself a Scarecrow web page, and I've been making pages ever since.

Work Stuff

grumph All that web page making to keep myself busy started to turn into something a little more... I started making web pages for the Physics Department at the U of A. I started with just a few, and then we sort of re-did the whole web site. Eventually, we set up our own web server, primarily to run an online homework cgi program. Naturally, I wrote the program, too. This project started about a semester before WebCT showed up on campus. Well, even though we still had WebCT, some of the professors/instructors in the department continued to use this cgi.

The cgi was written in REALbasic. That was a bit of a problem, because it only ran on MacOS 8 or 9. Eventually our physics server had to be updated to a new computer, running only OS X. And our little homework cgi became history. I still have a copy of it, if you are running WebStar on OS 9. But it is pretty much dead.

Anyway, that program led to another RB cgi, this one for an online telescope run by Dr. Lacy, our astronomer. I have actually re-written that one, using PHP (and the web framework CodeIgniter).

I should also mention, at this point, that, as my younger child started going to kindergarten, I started teaching in the department. I've taught the general education astronomy class, a class called Physics and Human Affairs (a non-science major physics class), and Physics for Elementary Teachers (more about that on their web page). I really like the class for education majors. Many elementary teachers are afraid of science, and their fear just percolates down to the kids in their classes. My hope is that these future teachers can develop a more positive attitude toward science, and that that new attitude will come through to the kids.

...the educated citizen has a special obligation to encourage the pursuit of learning, to promote exploration of the unknown, to preserve the freedom of inquiry, to support the advancement of research, and to assist at every level of government the improvement of education for all Americans -- from grade school to graduate school.

- John F. Kennedy

Other interesting stuff

if you find this stuff interesting

rails So, these days I do a lot of web page stuff, but it is mainly updating class web pages. Every four or five years we change the look of the physics main page. I try to have some fun with that, but somehow making web pages doesn't hold the same thrill for me that it once did.

I have become interested in other ways to get content onto the web. I've used PHP for a couple of projects, then I started trying to learn Ruby on Rails. I liked that a lot, but I had loads of trouble trying to install it on the Mac servers at school, so I pretty much gave up. Then I made an application with Django, which is a Python based web framework, in the same spirit as Rails. There are several nice things about it, including the fact that I can actually get it to work on our servers. The Python syntax is pretty easy to pick up, and all in all it is enjoyable.

Eventually I revisited Ruby on Rails. I got it installed, and I fell in love. Everything is so easy with it! It just makes sense. Not only is the Ruby syntax easy, but the way Rails itself does things just make sense. I also enjoy the large ROR community. For instance, there is this great website called Railscasts where a new screencast is posted each week, with helpful tips on using Rails.

cakephp The main problem with RoR is that it doesn't run on the university run servers. So it is not possible to use it to update the Physics Dept. web page. For that project, I simply must use PHP, there really is no other option. Going back to PHP is pretty tough after using Rails. But I finally chose to use CakePHP as a framework to help me out. Not quite as nice as rails, but OK.

I also enjoy photography. I'm not any good at it, but I enjoy it anyway. And digital photography is so nice - you don't waste a lot of money on bad pictures on slides or anything. You can take as many as you like and delete them all later.

A while ago my husband enjoyed a sabbatical in Maryland, and naturally our whole family went. I'm afraid I've fallen in love with the area around Our Nation's Capital (if you are an American, that is). If you've never been, you really should go.

So, that's a little bit about me. You want more? Well, I've got a web page about Gunsmoke, and other various and sundry items that you can read all about on the previous version of this web page. Links to all of the different earlier versions of this page are down at the bottom of this page.