Thursday morning, with the help of a cab and two Southwest flights (with a change in St. Louis), I arrived in Houston's Hobby Airport. The hotel looked like it couldn't be much more than a mile away, and I didn't have a ton of luggage, so I walked. Which was fine, though the heat and humidity left me a little sweaty. Fortunately I had time to unpack and take a quick shower before Sara got back to the hotel room and I was wisked off to the bed and breakfast where the wedding was to take place the next day.

We sat around and chatted with relatives. There was some wedding rehearsal activity which we didn't have any involvement with, and then we all went to dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant.

The next morning we had the hotel breakfast and then visited the Menil Collection, where I was reminded of Roberto Matta, and encountered Max Ernst's Pierrot Mon Ami. A google "feeling lucky" search for "Pierrot Mon Ami Ernst", as of that day, takes you to information about casting number eight of the series of eight (the museum had number four), which could be yours for a measly 192 thousand. Sara would hear none of it, but I think it'd be way more interesting than, say, any Ann Arbor house you could buy for that amount.

After that we had lunch at a nearby café, then visited the Rothko Chapel and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum, both within a few blocks. I've got nothing against Rothko, I guess, and the building was nice enough, but I'm offended at the idea of kneeling before his paintings. Even if you think he's great, he's not *that* great.

The wedding and reception that night went well. Guests included Sara's family, the new English inlaws, and friends from the lab where the couple work. This was the best part of the trip, but I don't really have anything to say about it.

Saturday we did some more tourist stuff around Houston--saw some gardens, walked around downtown a little, then ended up with an outdoor concert, "Accordian Kings 2006", where we saw "Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters", "Joel Guzman & Aztex featuring Sarah Fox", and C.J. Chenier. It took a while for me to warm up to it--maybe I just didn't like the first band much--but in the end I had a good time.

We had to get up before 6am in the next morning to make our flight home, which is a little early for us, but everything went fine.

My main impression of Houston was of car traffic. Our hotel was well out of town and just off a major (3-4 lanes each way plus a 2-lane access road on each side) freeway, which seemed to always be full of high-speed bumper-to-bumper traffic. The roar of the freeway was constant. Going anywhere required a long ride on it. I probably got a skewed view of the place staying where we did--maybe it's different if you stay downtown--but it didn't seem like the kind of place I could live happily.

Sara had warned me that since Southwest didn't have reserved seats, you had to stand in line a long time to get a good seat. But the seats were fine (legroom seemed better than average), and I think I could have boarded at the last minute without being unhappy.

not juggling

I left work around 6:30 to get some dinner at Leopold's and then go to juggling, but when I came back out it was sprinkling a little and looking kind of threatening, so I just took the bus home.

Last night I went through the commentary track for Le Mepris, but it was pretty boring. I guess I just couldn't stop.

I've been reading up on CSS in my spare time; it's sort of fun.

It's hard to predict sometimes what I'll find boring and what I'll become completely obsessed by.

Hanging around strangers

After yesterday, I had to get out of the apartment.

It was 90 degrees and the buses weren't running, so the walk downtown was a little hot, but I ended up having a pleasant enough day. I spent a few hours in Café Ambrosia staring at my laptop trying to figure out the kernel's rpc-over-tcp receive code, then moved to Leopold's and worked on a few small git documentation patches.

Leopold's seemed ideal--power, wifi, lots of space, food, drinks--until people started shouting at the TV's. (Some basketball game, I guess.)

But when they're not shouting at TV's I like just hanging around places with lots of strangers. I'm not sure why--I've got my own stuff to do and not much interest in interacting with anyone--it just seems nice to have people around.

On my own

Sara left for a conference (and a visit with her parents) on Wednesday. It's odd being at home on my own. My first impulse is to go to the public library and stock up on movies that Sara wouldn't want to sit through. So far I've watched:

  • La collectionneuse: A good choice, in that it doesn't seem the sort of thing Sara would have like. A bad choice, in that I didn't like it either. I'm not quite sure how I made it to the end. What was the point?
  • Le Mepris: Actually I only watched about the first half. I still like it, but having seen it a few times before I don't feel obligated to finish.
  • L'amour en Fuite: Actually I think Sara liked this when we saw it together before, but probably not enough to want to watch it again. I love it, even if it doesn't really do anything new compared to the four Doinel movies that come before it.
  • L'Auberge Espagnole: OK, so French movies are a common theme. I like to turn the subtitles off and see how much I can follow, something Sara definitely wouldn't put up with. (The answer: not much, but not so little that I can't enjoy it either.) Sara actually might like this, a mostly light-hearted story about seven foreign exchange students sharing a Barcelona apartment for a year. OK, more European than French, actually. The mixture of languages is fun.
  • The Office: The boss in this BBC series has the excruciating ineptness of Basil Fawlty. The episodes are presented a bit like unnarrated documentaries, and the added realism really makes you cringe. I think some people would find it too painful to watch, but after an episode to adjust, I'm finding it hilarious.

Yesterday I went juggling and then had dinner with Ajit, Wendy, Noé, and Belen (sp??). It was nice to have the company; after the first day, the novelty of being on my own wears off and it just becomes depressing having only movie characters for company.

Unfortunately today I was too lazy to follow my plans to go out and to get some hacking done. So I ended up on my own in the apartment all day. Dinner was OK, though--microwaved acorn squash with butter and maple syrup, broccoli, and some bread. If I'm not careful I eat nothing but cheese sandwiches when I'm on my own.

sunny day

Ann Arbor had its first real sunny day after a week of rain, and downtown was pretty busy. Asparagus was the almost the only vegetable (other than potatoes and onions) for sale at the farmer's market, so I picked some up on the way in, then spent some time revising git documentation in the public library before meeting some arborupdate people--people I've only known as email addresses.

They were at Franks, which I'd never been to before. Might be worth trying again sometime--I don't know if the food was good or not, but it seemed inexpensive and comfortable.

Then I stopped by the grad library to pick up a book for our science fiction group, and met for a couple hours' juggling on the diag. Dave, Noé and I discovered that the usual feeder-rotation trick works in a 9-club ultimates feed--the feeder does ultimates, and the feedees do 2-counts, either left-or-right handed. As with the usual feeder rotation, the feeder and the stationary feedee keep their 2-count pattern unchanged, and only their passes to the rotating person change. The only change that seemed required was to give some extra warning before moving, since the transition happens very quickly.

Noé, Dave, Sara, Ajit, the-spanish-woman-whose-name-I-won't-try-to-spell and I had some beer and food at Dominicks afterward, and Dave impressed us with his finger jokes.

juggling, SQL, ...

The Ann Arbor juggling festival was the weekend after our ontario festival; reasonably fun this year, though I'm not juggling a lot these days.

I started hacking on the arborupdate website a bit recently, which is sort of fun. Textpattern, on which it's based, actually seems fairly simple (in a good way).

NFS toys

New toys!:

  • Linksys NSLU2: a pocket-sized network-attached storage thing without its own storage--but plug in an ethernet cable and a USB drive, and you get a functional little network file server. Very cute.
  • Nokia 770: another pocket-sized device, this with wifi and a sharp 800 by 460 screen. Also very cute, and nice for web browsing, but fairly useless otherwise, as far as I can tell. Maybe an external keyboard would help.

The interesting thing about both of these, though, is that both run Linux, and both have active development communities (nslu2-linux and maemo) that are doing cool things with them. So I look forward to tinkering. My first goal is to get a recent kernel with our NFSv4 client and server running on both.

sickness, short week, ontario

This seems to be a bad year for getting sick; last weekend I left home early on Friday, totally exhausted, then spent the weekend laying around feeling miserable with a fever. It was annoying enough to motivate a trip to the doctor Monday--my first to a new group practice near Briarwood, chosen mainly because they were willing to make an appointment for me that day--but the doctor reassured me that all would be well and that I could expect to be back at work Wednesday. I stayed home Tuesday and did indeed feel well enough to get back to work on Wednesday.

It was a short week--I'd been looking forward to this weekend for a few weeks, planning to visit some friends and family this weekend. So with me recovered (and Sara, fortunately, not having caught anything), I worked at home Friday morning, then picked up our rental car at 2pm, collected Sara from work, and set out.

Driving as I do once a year, I'm prone to stupid mistakes. In this case I didn't realize quite how soon the first exit off the freeway (from 23 to 14) was, so we ended up doing an extra 20-some-minute circuit around the north side of Ann Arbor before we finally got going in the right direction.

That, together with some construction and bad traffic through Detroit, meant that we didn't make it to London until 6:30--I'd been hoping it would be closer to a three or three-and-half hour drive. We were both tired of the road at that point (the seemingly endless decrepit canyonlike Detroit freeways were a particular low point), so it was especially satisfying to arrive at Graham and Nicole's, sit down with some beer, and watch Graham make dosas for our dinner.

Their daughter is much more verbal now, though her answers to yes-no-questions (yes! Noooo?) seem highly experimental at times.

The next morning we had a breakfast-that-couldn't-be-beat at their place, did a little grocery shopping, then ate lunch together at a nice local vietnamese place.

The drive to Waterloo that afternoon was only an hour and a half on back roads. We left a little later than intended, and didn't arrive till about 5.

They fed us some pizza and then took us to a great chamber music concert at the nearby Perimeter Institute. The highlight was the Shostakovich Piano Trio #2, which was wild--I hope I'll get the chance to see it performed again some day.

A late-night snack at the Perimeter Institute's "Black Hole Café" afterwards, and then we back to my Aunt's. The next morning we had a quick breakfast and then road back to the perimiter institute to look for Sara's purse, and were very relieved when a young security guard noticed us peering in and knew what we were looking for.

"Brunch" was at noon at Ruth's lovely apartment in a converted school building a few blocks away. She served us melons and proscuitto, then some great scones (a New Joy of Cooking recipe), and some slightly troubled (but nevertheless very tasty) soufflé.

The afternoon we wandered around downtown Waterloo a bit and did some shopping. Then Helen's friend Mary came down for dinner with us. She'd fed us a very elaborate thanksgiving dinner on a previous visit (in 1994, they thought, our first winter in Ann Arbor), and it was nice to see her again.

We stayed up talking some more, then got to bed in time to make an early start on our long drive back.

For our drive back we decided we'd avoid the Detroit freeways and try surface streets. It was slower that way, and unfortunately not that much more interesting. But we arrived in time, returned the car, and, rather than trying to work the rest of the day as we'd originally thought we might, went to bed and napped. Our sleeping schedule may now be messed up for some time....

So, there was too much driving involved, but we enjoyed visiting with people. Maybe next time we should stay longer, for a higher visit-to-transportation-time ratio.

recreation and amusement

I've been rereading Pride and Prejudice, which is great fun. I have to save this up for the next time I'm invited to a party:

"While I can have my mornings to myself," said she, "it is enough--I think it is no sacrifice to join occasionally in evening engagements. Society has claims on us all; and I profess myself one of those who consider intervals of recreation and amusement as desirable for everybody."

The weekend was somewhat of a calamity. After hours of frustration, I finally managed to get the new hard drive for fieldses.org bootable (I needed to turn on lba in the bios, it turned out). The old hard drive started to fail a week or so ago. I'd planned to get my taxes done, but there were some unexpected twists, including the discovery that last year I'd underreported our income (thanks to some fellowship money that didn't get reported on a W2), so now I get to file amended state and federal returns. Oh, fun. But that will have to wait for next weekend.

Despite that I'm in a pretty good mood. Maybe it's Jane Austen, or maybe the good mood is leftover from Sara's labmate's defense party on Thursday night.

I finally called our property management to arrange renewing our lease for next year. This will be our tenth lease at the same place. We have to move one of these days....

catching up?

For some reason the snore was greatly toned down my second night at the San Francisco hostel, so I didn't get a recording. Alas.

The one bizarre night-time annoyance was the guy that came in at 3am to call his girlfriend on his cellphone. He wouldn't stop when I asked, but he hung up soon enough--I guess it's awkward trying to talk to your girlfriend with a grumpy roommate glaring at you.

Hostel etiquette tips:

  1. The dorm room isn't a place to hang out at night--hostels always have common rooms for that.
  2. If you come into the dorm room after someone else has already gone to bed, your job is to get into your bed with the minimum noise possible. It is, however, permissible to flick on the light switch for a moment if you need it.
  3. Please don't hog the telephone/internet terminal/bathroom/other limited resource.
  4. If you notice someone else being totally obnoxious, ask them (politely) to stop. You may feel you're alone, but, like you, everyone else in earshot is actually just trying to decide whether it's worth waking up any further to complain themselves, or whether someone else will do it for them.

The third night I slept very well.

Since then I had a week of work followed by a week lying on my back with some kind of ugly flu that just wouldn't go away. My only accomplishment last week was to get caught up on my backlog of podcasts. My French comprehension is getting a little better.


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