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.

Snores

It's some sort of rule that each room of more than a certain number of people in a hostel must have at least one with a spectacular snore.

When I stayed at the Fort Mason hostel a few years ago there was someone with an earth-moving rumble of a snore. I suppose it was just the contrast with the otherwise quiet surroundings, but at the time I remember being amazed that one person could make a noise that loud. And do it in their sleep!

Last night's wasn't a rumble so much as a piercing wheeze, like the buzzy sound you get if you let the air out of a balloon with the neck stretched out. Not as impressive, but still quite effective. I'm not sure what to do about that--is it acceptable to shake someone awake in that case? Would it accomplish anything?

Maybe I should try to make a recording to document this snore for posterity.

I saw the Urban Iditarod pass by today. In some ways it wasn't actually as cool as the local shopping cart races, since it was a big parade rather than a fast race.

There's a certain exhileration, though, to seeing something that ridiculous burst out across a major thoroughfare in a city as large as San Francisco.

California

So much for daily entries.

My parents visited the weekend of February 17th--20th. Their original plan was to do some skiing, but the weather didn't cooperate.

And a lot of other stuff probably happened in the last two months, but I don't remember it right now.

Last week was connectathon. This year it was on Sun's campus in Santa Clara, which is less interesting than downtown San Jose. Though the location wasn't totally useless--at least there was a little shopping area next to it with some restaurants and a Safeway.

I did less testing than usual but had a lot of useful conversations with people.

Thursday night (last night) I went out to a good Malaysian restaurant with a couple connectathon people that I didn't know, which turned out to be fun.

Today I took the caltrain to San Francisco, then sat around and did a bit of thinking about some interesting acl problems leftover from connectathon. After checking into to the hostel I did some email, then met Cary and his friends Elaine and Tamara at an Italian restaurant. It was a little expensive, but very good. Then we went to Club Fugazi for Beach Banket Babylon, which was corny but fun.

And afterwards I came back to the hostel, where I'm typing this because I don't feel like going to bed yet. There's pounding music coming from the social room. The bedrooms upstairs looked kind of homey, but am I going to get any sleep tonight? We'll see.

Friday: BWI->DTW

Once again we got to the gate with lots of time to kill, but again it meant we nabbed the exit rows.

They were offering $300 vouchers if we'd take a later flight, so we ended up waiting another 3 hours, which we occupied by wandering around the airport shops, eating lunch at taco bell (thanks to concessions vouchers), and, mainly, sitting and reading.

The flight back was uneventful, and we caught a lift with a custom transit van that happened to be leaving, which actually probably didn't save us more than a couple dollars.

Thursday on the mall

Thursday morning we got off the metro at L'Enfant Plaza and walked to the Botanic garden, which was featuring a set of models of DC landmarks (the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, etc.) made out of natural materials--bits of pine cones, bark, leaves, etc. Which sounds kind of cheezy, and maybe it was, I guess, but it was fun to look closely at them and pick out the clever ways they'd used different things. (Did you ever notice that the cross-section of a cinnamon stick has a scroll-like shape that might work well as, e.g., the top of a classical column?)

Next we went to the National Museum of the American Indian next door. Their cafeteria is maybe a little expensive and not entirely reliable (the indian fry bread Sara got was a little tough--maybe it wasn't fresh enough)--but it definitely raised the standard for museum food. There was a wide variety of native-american-themed food, and except maybe for the fry bread everything we got was really good.

Museum exhibits can be kind of frustrating--they try to cover so much material in so few words that it can feel very superficial despite the profusion of stuff to look at. Somehow the NMAI particularly feels this way, maybe because of the vast diversity of the communities they try to cover.

Our next stop was the Hirshorne. Of the stuff we saw there my favorite consisted of hanging columns of clothes hangers (the paper-covered type, in this case plain white paper), arranged in a sort of grid (actually staggered rows of colums, of lengths 5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 7, 6, 5), 18 to a column. Each hung by its hook from a corner of the one above, and each such hanging causing a slight (maybe pi/4? pi/8?) rotation. So hangers at the same z-coordinate all had the same orientation. It made a nice effect.

We walked by the Arts & Industries building, but it was closed for renovation, so we took a look around the castle--the new coin collection was the most interesting thing there--then skimmed through an exhibit of fancy costumes from the Ottaman empire.

Finally we stopped by Teaism on our way back to the Gallery Place metro, where we met my dad and sister to ride back home together.

Amid the packing we also found time to play another game of Bohnanza and watch a few "Creature Comforts" videos.

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