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[You may -- or may not -- want to] Copy this sentence into your livejournal if you're in a non-same-sex marriage, and you don't want it "protected" by those who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.
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I'm a little annoyed with myself because I just caught myself being a food snob.

This evening, Heidi and I went to this fancy restaurant on the Upper East Side. They're so fancy and hip that they have a prestigious interior design firm re-do the place every three months. The menu looked really good, though, and thy had good reviews, so we went there as our once-a-week dining outing.

So what went wrong? First they couldn't find the wine we ordered, so we had to eat our appetizers without wine - and then they asked us to select a different wine. Wine service was slow - our glasses didn't get refilled in time (the bottle was not on or near our table, so we could not refill our own glasses). I ordered the special, only to be told later it wasn't available, and again had to select a fall-back. Then Heidi found a piece of plastic in her dessert. Finally, the bill showed the expensive wine that we didn't get and we had to send the check back to be corrected (it was a $40 difference).

Having said all that, the food was excellent (ignoring the plastic) and the service couldn't have been nicer. So when I caught myself saying "we'll never come back here" I ended up angry with myself. I'm still thinking about that - have I really become that spoiled, or was this justifiable anger at a bad experience?
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I work for a major Wall Street investment bank. No, not Bear Stearns, Lehman, or Merrill Lynch. And sadly, not for the one that's so far been immune to all the trouble.

This week is going to be a very nervous one at work. The whole situation has a feel to it like the last days of Pompeii...
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Jo Walton has been writing a series of posts on tor.com about books she's enjoyed and read repeatedly. I'm really enjoying these posts and they've set me on the path to re-reading old favorites again.

Take CJ Cherryh - I've generally enjoyed reading her books, frequently greatly enjoyed reading them; but in the Big Move of 2000 (two international moves in six months) I got rid of her books. But after reading Jo Walton's post on the Atevi books I picked up a bunch of Chanur and Cyteen paperback at the library bookstore and, of course, greatly enjoyed them.

I'm re-reading my Steven Brust (Taltos) and Eric Frank Russell books. They are treasures and deserve better than just sitting on my bookshelves.

I've also picked up a bunch of her recommended books and am slowly working through them. Her taste in books is pretty good, though her recommendations are not 100% hits for me. The amount of analysis she does is amazing to me - she picks up a lot about the books that I, just reading for entertainment, never would.

Anyway - thanks Jo! Please keep posting to tor (and I hope they pay you well - you certainly deserve it). Just don't neglect your LJ blog...
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To no one's surprise, cycling 75 miles was a little ambitious. I was getting quite tired by the third rest stop (50M) and was really hurting by the fourth rest stop (70M).

My friend Scott, a hardcore biker who doesn't start hurting until mile 125 (and who had already done 200 miles this week) was kind enough to slow down and stick with me - so I made it to the finish in about 5 hours 10 minutes, including time spent at rest stops.

I expect to do better (as in less pain) next year, since I didn't know I was going to do the NYC tour until a week ago and obviously didn't train for distance. It was great fun, though - I'm glad I did the ride and very happy to have supportive friends.

The rest of my day will probably (well, hopefully) be spent resting, reading and watching some TV.

Biking

Sep. 6th, 2008 06:03 pm
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Tomorrow I'll be doing my first organized bike ride - a 75-mile ride around New York City (a subset of the NYC Century). This is a lot more than I've done before, but I'm assured that taking breaks at the rest stops and stretching should get me there. Just as a precaution, I'm working from home on Monday (potentially on a soft pillow).

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I read a pile of books during my vacation - large stacks of good books are more important for a nice vacation than a great beach. Not all I read was good, but I did enjoy a bunch of them.


  • Joe Abercrombie - Last Argument Of Kings. The third volume in this series; I really liked it because it is truly dark fantasy. Rather like KJ Parker, it is gritty and dark mixed with black humor; Joe Abercrombie's characters feel more personal whereas KJ Parker can be more distant.

  • Matthew Hughes - Template. The latest book by Hughes; his books always feel like mature Jack Vance to me; I hope he will continue to write a great many of them.

  • Sherwood Smith - Inda. At the start of this, I feared it would be too much like Ender's Game with swords. The book improves quickly, though, involving war and interpersonal rivalry. It's a pity the politics are somewhat simplistic. I'm currently reading the second book even though it feels like more of the same.



I tried Michael Cisco's "The Tyrant" but couldn't get through the first few chapters. Instead I read a few Harry Bosch novels lying around the resort. I also read Jeri Smith-Ready's "Wicked Game" but was somewhat underwhelmed. I'll try again with her next book.
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Coming home after a great vacation isn't always fun. Apart from the shock of adjusting to having too many people around, we've had two issues so far:


  • Somebody used Heidi's credit card to order a $500 financial newsletter. We contested the charge and AmEx is sending us a new card, but it's a hassle. Heidi contacted the publisher and they confirmed her card was used but wouldn't tell us the name or address used. How does a credit card transaction get approved if the name, address and ZIP code are all wrong?

  • Our dishwasher overflowed the kitchen on its first run after we returned (not good if you're on the fifth floor). It seems to be the drain. So we'll have to get a plumber in, who may have to take apart several kitchen cabinets. And one of us will have to stay home for a day or two in what promises to be a very busy week.


Ah well - enough complaining. Life is good overall, I just have to adjust to life after vacation.
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A few days ago we came back from our best vacation ever. We went to the island of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos, which is borderline Atlantic / Caribbean. August is the low season there, so the island wasn't busy. Heidi booked us an apartment at Point Grace and that was the best choice of all. It looked better in real life than in the pictures.

Point Grace has about 30 apartments on a half-mile of perfect beach. This being the low season, only five or six apartments were in use - so we rarely had to share the beach. In fact, the busiest we ever saw the beach was when a group of six people from a different resort walked by. Combine this with excellent service and you end up with an amazing and relaxing vacation. We saw other hotels a few miles down the beach, and while some were nice, others packed too many people (and kids) in too little space - loud and crowded. I'll take peace and quiet over screaming kids any day.

Our apartment was normal for Point Grace, but large by New York standards - 1500 square foot with two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, kitchen, dining room and living room - and a terrace opening up on the beach. We even saw the kitchen used one evening - the chef from the resort's restaurant came and cooked dinner for us in the apartment. That's the kind of luxury I could get used to.

For six days, we did little except sleep in, relax on the beach, read, go out for nice meals, get massages, and snorkel (we saw three different reefs). That makes it our best vacation ever - even better than our honeymoon to Mexico. The only thing we'd do different is to stay for longer, and maybe bring friends. Let's see what we can do next year.
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Off to the Turks & Caicos for close to a week. I'm looking forward to our first real avaction in four years. Let's hope the weather plays nice.
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Heidi is off to Chicago this weekend to hang out with friends; so I have the weekend to myself. I took Friday off so I could have breakfast with her; then spent the afternoon relaxing, reading the new Bujold, and biking. In the evening I finally saw the new Indiana Jones, which is about to disappear from theaters. All in all, a very nice relaxing day.

I hope to spend today much the same way. Breakfast at the local diner, then run some quick errands and go out for more biking. After that, some time next to the pool with a book. I'm hoping this will be the perfect lazy summer weekend.

My one adventure yesterday was on the way home from the park. The bike path on 90th street is to the left of the car lanes; a van first pulled up next to me, stayed next to me for 50 yards, then pulled left across the path to get to a parking spot. My right elbow must have collected some paint from the van before I managed to stop :-)
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It was interesting to see the reports and complaints about the iPhone 2.0 upgrade yesterday. It always amazes me that people expect big upgrades to work flawlessly, at the very moment they're being released. Do they really think that Apple can predict the full server load of millions of simultaneous upgrades, or that's it worth Apple's investment to handle a peak load like this that will re-occur at most once a year?

I waited till later in the evening to try the upgrade and was expecting it to be slow or having to retry on a later day. It worked fine the first time I tried it and I've been playing with what is effectively a new phone all morning. Well done Apple.
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Heidi and I went on an around-the-island trip yesterday. The east-side GreenWay bike path was very disappointing - large parts are sanded and pot-holed, some parts require walking because of lack of space, other parts suddenly mix with tourist attractions and large crowds. To top it off, Heidi's bike developed yet another flat (the back tire this time) when we were at Battery Park, as far away from home as possible.

Heidi went home by cab. I later dropped the bike off to have Armadillo tires fitted, so the flats should now be a thing of the past. I went up the west side, then got caught by a torrential downpour - I was so wet water was running out of my shoes. All in all, not a good day.

Today was much better. I did a morning loop of Brooklyn, followed by a ride with Heidi (and her new tires) for two loops of Central Park. The weather was nice, too - dry, not too hot, and a little breeze. In all, I biked 30 miles today and some 60 miles in the three-day weekend, and am feeling good about myself.
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Heidi's tire has been fixed - we've biked some 30 miles with the patched tire & tube and all is well.

It does surprise me how much stuff I accumulate for biking. Back home, in Holland, a bike is just a mode of transport - you have a city bike, some basic tire repair stuff, and maybe clips to prevent pant legs from getting dirty when riding the bike to work. Here, my cycle is for recreation - so I have a sporty bike, a helmet, padded bike pants, special shoes, bike gloves, etc. I'm not complaining, as my new bike is ever so much nicer than my old city bike, and riding the new bike is a lot of fun; it's just the sheer amount of related gear that astounds me.
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Heidi and I got bikes a few months ago, and we've been doing regular rides in the early afternoon and on the weekend. Last Sunday, her front tire sprung a leak on the last corner before we were home - pretty good timing. I patched the tube, but it developed another leak in a different spot the next day. Okay - we switched to a new tube and checked the outer tire for holes or anything sharp - nothing. You can guess what happened today, our next outing - another leak.

I'm fairly certain this is something in the outer tire, which is annoying as it has less than 300 miles wear on it. The location of the leaks makes it rather unlikely that it's the rim. In any case, I'll take the wheel into the shop this weekend for a new tire and a quick rim check-up.

This trio of leaks has rather soured Heidi on her new bike. It will be a while before she's comfortable on a long trip (say, 15 to 20 miles) again. I guess I'll be on my own when cycling this weekend - and carry a patch set in case the bad luck transfers to me.
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I think I just flubbed my YAPC lightning talk. Too much to say, too little time, and my materials were by no means as good as all the other speakers. Ah well - better luck next year.
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I started the day with pancakes at Orange (the branch in Harrison Street). They are as awesome as I remembered them from last year. I will have to go back tomorrow or Friday.
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Am enjoying the last day of YAPC::NA. Adam Kennedy had a good talk about failure and what makes projects fail. About to see Michael Schwern talk about API design - that's likely to be fun.

Catalyst

Jun. 17th, 2008 12:45 pm
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Am attending the workshop on Catalyst all afternoon. I am not using it right now, but since all the really smart kids are using it, I might as well learn :-)

Update: Matt is a great speaker, but his examples could be a little better. He knows his stuff though - he's clearly seen (or lived through) all the mistakes that can be made, and gives practical advice. I'm not fully convinced I need Catalyst for my apps.

Moose

Jun. 17th, 2008 10:19 am
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Currently attending the Moose talk. It's a good talk and the speaker knows his stuff, but OMFG the slides suck. If you have an auditorium full of people, don't use a font for code examples that is small enough that you can fit 30 lines of code, plus a headline in a fancy font, all on the same slide. Nobody beyond the second row will be able to read the slides.

The author should be forced to attend five similar talks from the back of the room and pass a test on the slide content. Fail the test, don't go home.

Now back to the content - the talk is interesting and I want to know this stuff.
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