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One of the perks of living in the midwest is the weather. It may not be pleasant, but it's often interesting. Today when we woke up everything was covered in ice. And by everything, I mean everything: each individual twig on each tree is individually encased in a layer of ice, so everything glistens. It's hell on the trees--walking down the sidewalk I find myself bending over to avoid underneath ice-laden branches that I didn't know were there--but it's very beautiful.


I still wasn't feeling great Monday--plenty of energy, but sniffling and coughing a lot--so I stayed home. The next couple days I took some drugs, went in for half-days, and washed my hands frequently. By the end of the week I was feeling a bit more normal.

Friday night Sara and I watched "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai", a very melodramatic Bollywood movie--cute kids! Beloved dead mothers! Childhood sweethearts reunited! Last-minute wedding antics! It had its moments, but I don't think either of us would recommend it. In particular, I didn't like the music that much.

While I was sick I picked up one of Janet Evanovich "Stephanie Plum" mysteries from Sara's stack of library books. They have some amusing characters and recurring jokes, and passed the time well while all I could think about was how yuchy I felt. And now I'm mildly addicted. It'll pass.

Yesterday I went back to juggling for the first time since returning from break. I have a trick I've been working on for a few weeks: you start a cascade with your left arm around your back, left hand pinned against your right side, then smoothly move the pattern around your back till you reach the same position on your left side, with your right arm stretched around your back and left arm free. So there's a brief time where the pattern is behind your back and you're juggling blind. Which I'm not very good at. The really hard part, though, is the transitions. Anyway, I actually managed to nail the trick once today. It was probably a freak event, though. Afterwards we had dinner at Jerusalem Garden, and Paul gave me a lift home.

Today for my geeky amusement I've been trying to install Debian on my little pocket-sized Linksys NSLU2 storage appliance. So far it's not going very well.


I was feeling pretty bad again last night, and had some trouble getting to sleep, but I think I must have finally drifted off before midnight. When I woke up it was noon. That wasn't completely uninterrupted--for example, I was awake for a while as Sara got ready to leave around 7--but still, that was a *lot* of sleep. I felt really strange.

Oh well. Hopefully it helps.

Today I did nothing in particular, while Sara went to some kind of teaching seminar, where she gave a 5-minute practice presentation on yogurt-making, which I heard her run through a few times last night. It was pretty good.

Right now our kitchen counter supports a four-liter wine jug full of foaming pitch black liquid, which will one day be beer. Sara has a thing for culinary applications of microbiology.

Pierrot Mon Ami

This flu has been tenacious, so I'm still not doing much. Yesterday I reread most of "Pierrot Mon Ami". I think the first time through I entirely missed the hints that the "poldevian prince" was actually the animal trainer. What do you know.

Though I'm not in perfect shape, I'm better, and just can't spend all my time doing nothing, so today I'm doing a little debugging. And I upgraded drupal since it seems there've been a couple security fixes.

Flu after flew

Whether it's the jet lag, or the crowds of people in small places, or something else, I'm especially susceptible to coming down with stuff in the few days after returning home from travel.

My first thought Monday morning was that I had a mild hangover. We'd considered having a few friends over for new year's eve, but a couple phone phone calls and a lack of people at juggling suggested that most people would either be out of town or have other plans. So we had some champagne on our own. I didn't think it was that much, but it was beyond my usual (minimal) alcohol intake.

The day continued and I didn't feel any better, and eventually my a thermometer confirmed that I had something likely to be more lingering.

So here I am, Wednesday, having spent my third day at home drinking lots of fluids, doing some reading, writing the occasional email (or blog entry), and trying to get some sleep. Ugh.

With luck I'll feel well enough to do some work from home tomorrow. I'm more than ready to *do* something, but my head still feels like it's stuffed with straw.

Home again

The rest of the trip went fine, and our flight home last night was uneventful.

I took a walk downtown Wednesday and spent an hour reading in Borders, with the result that I had a couple thousand pages of linux kernel books to entertain myself with on the flight home.

We had a ton of Christmas cards waiting for us on our return.

Merry Christmas

Christmas morning went well. Sara's dad made some muffins which we had with their yummy dark honey marmalade. Sara and her mom cleaned out the outdoor stove they've had in their backyard for years but never used, and we lit a fire and made s'mores. I don't really like s'mores, but it was fun anyway. We watched some Buster Keaton shorts from the library at night.

Sun for Christmas

Saturday night Sara's friend Jon took us to dinner with his girlfriend Kris (no idea if that's the right spelling). We went to a nice Vietnamese restaurant where she was a regular and then got some gelato across the street.

Then today we met another of Sara's friends, Shelly, and joined her for an REI trip where she got a backpack for their friend Andi, and I finally replaced my shoes. I'd bought them about this time last year, and the soles were falling apart. We had some coffee then made a brief stop at Borders before parting ways.

The sun was back today, so we hung out laundry and ate lunch in the back yard. At night was the traditional christmas eve luminaria lighting and party. Sara and her dad left for the 9pm service at the local Unitarian-Universalist church, while her mom and I stayed behind.

Part of my plan for the evening was to populate the external hard drive I'm giving Sara for christmas with our digital photos. I'd brought my own drive with me for that purpose. But of course all my data is on an ext3 filesystem. No problem, I thought--even though I don't have a linux machine with me (aside from the Nokia 770, which can't act as a USB host), I could install ext3 drivers on her mom's XP machine. The drivers work fine, but Windows refuses to accept some of the directory names. I also tried a standalone program (expore2fs), but it doesn't seem to do recursive copies. So in the end I had to give up.

Strumming in Rainy Arizona

After a long boring plane trip Monday afternoon, Sara's parents met us at the airport, fed us some snacks, then sent us off to sleep.

Wednesday and Thursday night we went with Sara's dad to a couple music events: the weekly Encanto Park meeting on Wednesday, and then an open mic at "Fiddler's Dream" on Thursday. As expected, performances were a little uneven, but some were very good, and most were fun regardless.

I have a so-so ear: I've practiced just enough to get myself to the point where I can understand a simple melody (where by "understand", I mean, not necessarily know what all the notes are--that would take perfect pitch--but at least know them all relative to each other). But anything more complicated is hit-or-miss, and I can rarely get chord progressions.

So part of the fun with performers doing simpler stuff is that if I'm lucky sometimes I can get to the point where I could pretty much transcribe the whole song--chords, melody, rhythm. There were a couple songs like that last night.

Also, I realize I must be slow, but I'd never really noticed before how this whole "strumming" thing works. Some of the guitarists at least had a very straightforward procedure: you move your arm up and down with an unchanging regular rhythm--with each up or down stroke corresponding to roughly to an eighth note in a 4/4 measure--and create different rhythms by your choice of what you do on each stroke. Assuming that's all you do (and for one or two people at the open mic it was), the only choices you have to make are the chord to fret with your left hand, and which strokes to strum on or not to emphasize.

The weather has been a little colder than I've gotten used to in previous years (highs in the low sixties), and today (Friday), to add insult to injury, it's been drizzling all afternoon. Oh well.

too many movies

I checked out "Tout Va B!en" from the library and watched it over a couple days, then watched the interviews that came with it, in hope of understanding what it was all about. Gorin (who directed it with Godard) said something about political films normally being designed to explain something that everyone already agrees with, or to dramatize the struggle they're already a part of, whereas they wanted to raise questions. I guess that makes some sense out of the confusion.

We also re-watched Delicatessen with Jeunet's commentary. I still like the movie, but I'm not sure I learned much.

And then last night was the annual Smithee Awards. Well, sort of--normally they're in the spring, but every five years they have a special best-of-the-last-five-years thing. So a lot of the clips were familiar.

If anybody ever suggests that you watch "Zombie Lake", run.

Tommorow we leave for Arizona. There's lots to do between now and then.


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