Leslie's Latest News

Tuesday, December 31, 2002


My internet connection was down all morning and I wasted a lot of time trying to troubleshoot it before calling the service number and getting a recorded message saying that they knew they were having problems. It seems to be back now, though.

In Terry Bisson's Voyage to the Red Planet, written in 1990, a Hollywood film company stages the first manned flight to Mars.One tidbit that stuck with me was the way they produced a movie. They still had actors, but they just shot little bits of each of them and then digitally produced whatever scenes were necessary for the story. This was science fiction in 1990, but it's getting closer and closer to reality. Witness the fact that an Academy Awards spokesman reportedly has stated that Andy Serkis, who voiced and acted the digitally animated character Gollum, is in fact eligible for an acting Oscar for the role "despite his physical absence from the screen".
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Monday, December 30, 2002


I finally got to see The Two Towers, and enjoyed it very much indeed. Although at 3 hours, it was pretty exhausting, and I could have done with a bit less of the battle scenes. But so much of it was visually amazing - Gandalf's struggle with the Balrog, the dark gates of Mordor, Edoras and the riders of Rohan, Eowyn, Shadowfax, Treebeard, the Nazgul, and the absolutely wonderful Gollum. I wish they hadn't made the changes to Faramir's character (and I'm not at all sure I understand why they did that), but that's really only a minor quibble and did not spoil it for me.

We had dinner afterwards at Penang, a very nice Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown. Then when we wandered back to the subway, we passed some ice sculptures on the common that were being prepared for tomorrow's First Night celebration - a spectacular Russian troika with a backdrop of St. Basil's Cathedral (the one with all the onion domes). I'm not planning to brave First Night, so I was glad to have a chance to see it in advance.
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More giveaway books: Justice (Faye Kellerman), Family Honor (Robert B. Parker), Her Name Titanic (Charles Pellegrino), Hard Time (Sara Paretsky), The Weaker Vessel (Antonia Fraser), and Power - How to Get it, How to Use it (Michael Korda).
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More giveaway books: Sacred and Profane (Faye Kellerman), The Day the Rabbi Left Town (Harry Kemelman), The Brethren (John Grisham), Targeting the Top (career strategy for women), The Managerial Woman, Theory Z - How American Business Can Meet the Japanese Challenge (1981), Me (autobio of Katharine Hepburn), Sweet Death, Kind Death (Amanda Cross), Spaceballs the Book, A.D. 999 (Jadrien Bell), Enigma (Robert Harris), and last and certainly least, The Private Diary of an OJ Juror.
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Here's a treat - The Lord of the Rings as directed by Howard Hawks, with Humphrey Bogart as Frodo, Sydney Greenstreet as Gandalf, Dooley Wilson as Sam (of course), Marlene Dietrich as Galadriel, Orson Welles as Saruman, and Peter Lorre as Golum.
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Sunday, December 29, 2002


I have a little tradition that each year, on some leisurely morning during the Christmas/New Years holiday season, I make myself a cheese souffle - an old-fashioned, not the least bit healthy, cheese souffle from the original edition of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This year, I decided to share it with Alex, since we were getting together to watch the Patriots' last regular-season game today. So I loaded my copper mixing bowl and my souffle dish and some gruyere and parmesan cheese and a half dozen eggs and my wire whisk and a bunch of other stuff into my huge LL Bean canvas tote bag and headed over to Alex's to do some serious cooking. I also brought some bread and the low-fat onion soup I made last night to serve as an appetizer. After a lovely comedy of errors that involved a spilled egg white and almost forgetting to add the cheese to the souffle base, and Alex wearing out his arm whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks, the souffle finally got into the oven. It came out pretty good, too, except that I think Alex's oven runs a bit hotter than mine and the souffle was a little too dark on the outside and a little too soft on the inside. But it tasted pretty good anyway. Dessert, served at half time, was bananas cooked with brown sugar and dark rum. I had mine with low-fat yogurt and Alex had his on ice cream. (Recipes below.)

And who won the game you might ask? Well, it was frustrating. The Pats rallied and scored 11 points in the last few minutes to come from behind and tie the game, then won it in overtime with another clutch field goal courtesy of Adam Vinitieri. The Dolphins were amazed. But for the Patriots to win the division, the Packers would have to beat the Jets. Now you might think that should be a fairly easy thing to accomplish, since the Packers had a season record of 12-3 going into their game. But it was not to be. The fickle finger of fate stepped in and led the Jets to an overwhelming win, something like 45-10. So that's it for the Pats this season. Lets hope next season turns out to be better.

Vidalia Onion Soup (from Saved by Soup, by Judith Barrett) Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet, add 4 pounds thinly sliced sweet onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown, 45 min to 1 hr. Transfer the onions to a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine to the first pan and deglaze over medium-high heat, until the wine is reduced by half, 3 to 5 min. Pour the wine into the onions, add 5 cups chicken or veggie broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer about 15 min. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with toasted bread and a sprinkle of Parmigiano cheese. Serves 6. 188 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving.

Bananas in Run-Brown Sugar Sauce (from The Eating Well Rush Hour Cookbook) In a large skillet, stir 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 tsp butter and 1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil until it bubbles, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup dark rum, 2 tsp lime juice, and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon; cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Peel 3 bananas and cut in half lengthwise and again crosswise and add to the skillet; cook, stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Serve topped with a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Serves 4. 208 calories, 4 grams fat per serving.
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Saturday, December 28, 2002


Book giveaway! I have been cleaning out my bookshelves and will be getting rid of a bunch of books. If anyone reading this would like any of these, let me know and I'll send them to you. If not, I'll donate them to a charity. (I'll probably list more from time to time...)

Longshot & High Stakes (Dick Francis), Death Qualified (Kate Wilhelm), The Cable Car Murder & Murder at Vassar (Elizabeth Atwood Taylor), The Fan (Bob Randall), Ophelia (fantasy involving a cat, by Florence Stevenson), The Daleth Effect (Harry Harrison), A Spaceship for the King (Jerry Pournelle), No Direction Home (Norman Spinrad), The Sword of Winter (Marta Randall), Her Mother's Daughter & The Bleeding Heart (Marilyn French), The World the Flesh and the Devil (Reay Tannahill), The Sting (Robert Weverka, based on the movie), The Mouse on Wall Street (Leonard Wibberley), Straight Shooting What's Wrong with America and How to Fix It (John Silber), Prescription for Disaster From the Glory of Apollo to the Betrayal of the Shuttle (Joseph J. Trento).
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Based on a short story by Andre Dubus, In the Bedroom is a beautifully directed movie that explores the emotional aftermath of an act of violence. Excellent performances by Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson, both of whom were nominated for an Academy Award (as was the movie for both Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, and Marisa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress). It was disappointing that the DVD did not have any extras, such as a director's commentary, but I ended up watching the movie two times through anyway. (You can see a trailer here, but I think it gives away too much.)

Two side notes that I particularly enjoyed. One of the characters in the movie directed a girl's chorus that performed Eastern European folk music, and these brooding Slavic songs set the emotional tone at certain points in the story. I also really loved the setting, which was the coastal town of Camden, Maine, which I'd visited two years ago and thought was one of the prettiest New England towns I'd ever seen. I enjoyed the scenes of daily life - cookouts, lobstering, poker nights, remote cabins in the woods - with backdrops of Owl Point Lighthouse and the outdoor ampitheater on the harbor that I remembered from my visit. (That photo at the top of my weblog page is from Merryspring Nature Park in Camden.)

But this movie has a deep emotional heart that I suspect will stay with me for a while.

There are things of which I may not speak

There are dreams that cannot die

There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak

Bring a pallor ino the cheek and a mist before the eye

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If LotR Had Been Written By Someone Else!?
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An interesting article about the first photograph.
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Friday, December 27, 2002


I was cleaning up my office, and I ran across this note from my father about ham radio which he sent in response to a newspaper clipping I'd sent him. Modern-day techies might be interested to see that even before computers, kids could find exciting technology to play with.

It is sad for guys like me to see it [shortwave radio] dying out, but I am sure you noticed how fast I latched onto the internet listening when it became available. In the 30s it was the most fascinating and exciting thing in the world for a kid to be involved in. Equipment was so primative in the early days. Sensitivity and selectivity are so much better now and you can now dial directly to the exact frequency and read the exact frequency of a station being received right on your dial. Tuning was not linear as it is now and we had to construct tuning charts by plotting verified stations. Tuning dials simply had 0 to 10 or 100 divisions marked on them. When a new station was heard we would have to interpolate and plot it on the chart to determine the frequency. Could not afford to buy a commercially built set so had to build your own 1 or 2 tube super regenerator set with plug in coils which you wind yourself for the different bands. Woolworth sold radio parts in those days. Of course we had to use earphones because who could afford the luxury of a speaker plus another tube in an audio amplifier which you would need. Waiting to hear the call sign was exciting. You would strain to understand what the announcer was saying so you would not miss that station identification. Fading and static made it difficult, especially on the toughest stations to receive, and these of course were the ones prized the most. Great days!!

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My front door is still frozen shut this morning! I went out and chipped at it for 5 minutes and still couldn't get it open. So I sprinkled a layer of snow-melting compound over the ice dam and will try again later today.

Yesterday I went over to Alex's in the afternoon to finally watch the second half of The Fellowship of the Ring. Then we had a nice dinner at Out of the Blue (I had baked haddock with crabmeat and asparagus on risotto).
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Thursday, December 26, 2002


Today's self-imposed task (besides shoveling the driveway) is to sort and file a 5-inch pile of paperwork which represents nearly a full year of bank, investment, and credit card statements, pay stubs, utility bills, important receipts, and other documents. I am making piles all over the floor (which have the cats all excited), and am throwing out as much as I can. Boring, boring, boring, but has to be done.
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Well, the storm finally hit. It started snowing around 4pm on Christmas day, just as I was leaving for an annual gathering of college-era friends. The party was great, but I left a bit early, as I wanted to be sure to be able to get home up the hill. Luckily, my road had been plowed just before I arrived home, so I didn't have any trouble. I shoveled about two inches of heavy wet snow off my driveway last night, but this morning its filled up again, and the wet snow seems to be frozen into ice. I couldn't get my morning paper because the bottom of my storm door was frozen shut! I kicked it a few times and that didn't break it loose, so I'm leaving the inner door open for a while, hoping that will melt the ice enough to let me get out. I guess I won't be going out much today...
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Wednesday, December 25, 2002


A science fiction convention database and search engine: TimeCzar SF Con Search
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I had a nice visit with my father, but I came home earlier than planned on Christmas because all the weather services were predicting a major snowstorm in the afternoon. So I left at 9am to get home before noon. As it turned out, I encountered only rain on the whole drive, and now at 2:30 in the afternoon, it still hasn't started snowing. So I could have stayed later with no problem, but who knew?
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Monday, December 23, 2002


I was annoyed with myself for not having exercised much this week in spite of having time off from work, so even though I was not feeling very energetic I dragged myself out to do the 2-mile Charles River loop. Once I got out there, it turned out to be very nice. The weather was mild and there was even a little bit of sun peaking through. It felt so good to be outdoors that when I got home I even felt inspired to do a little garden cleanup work.

I'll be away for the next few days visiting my father in Stratford, Connecticut, and will be coming back on Christmas afternoon in time for a get-together with old college friends. If I don't get a chance to blog in the meantime, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas!
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Sunday, December 22, 2002


I sent a bunch of Christmas cards to various relatives in Slovakia this year. (US Air Mail stamps have a really lovely blue-and-white picture of Mt McKinley that looks a lot like the High Tatras.) And now I've started to receive a few from Slovakia in return. Cousins Katarina and Milan in Slovinky sent a card with an English message: "Merry Christmas and a good trip to the New Year 2003 wish". I hope the message I tried to write in Slovak on their card came out nearly as well. And Pavel Kotrady, my distant relative by marriage who lives in the Czech Republic, sent this photo greeting by e-mail:

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Time Magazine made a very nice choice for Persons of the Year. Cynthia Cooper, Coleen Rowley and Sherron Watkins - the three women who were whistle-blowers at WorldCom, the FBI, and Enron. "They took huge professional and personal risks to blow the whistle on what went wrong... and in so doing helped remind us what American courage and American values are all about." Interviewed on This Week this morning, Cynthia Cooper said, "I really believe that Time's choice is very symbolic - it represents the many thousands of people who go to work every day in corporate America and do their best and try to do the right thing."
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Saturday, December 21, 2002


Rejoice! The sun is returning!

Becky and I went to an outdoor solstice celebration in Concord this evening. In a wooded area near the river, led by the Green Man decked in ivy, people gathered around a beautiful bonfire and listened to songs and poetry appropriate to the occasion. Participants were invited to toss tokens into the fire to symbolize what was being left behind in the old year and what was hoped for in the new year. This is the third time this group has held this celebration, although the first time I have attended. Here is what someone wrote about the first gathering.
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I just watched The Third Man (1949) for the first time. What a bleak and cynical movie. Ebert refers to it as "the exhausted aftermath of Casablanca", which is a good characterization. I wanted to see it because when I visited Vienna, several spots on the tour where mentioned as places that were featured in The Third Man. And it's certainly true that Vienna has a starring role in the film. But it was not the cheerful and upbeat Vienna I visited, but a bleak and gloomy postwar Vienna, divided into international sectors, with shadowy streets and rain gleaming off cobblestones and piles of ruins on every corner. Great cinematography, in the style of Citizen Kane, and a literate script by Graham Greene make it worth watching, although I found the famous zither-music score rather annoying. Here's a famous speech from the movie, said to be written by Orson Welles, who played the mysterious and elusive Harry Lime:

You know what the fellow said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love--they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

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Roger Ebert is not quite as blown away by The Two Towers as most of the fans seem to be. Here's the final paragraph of his review.

"The Two Towers" will possibly be more popular than the first film, more of an audience-pleaser, but hasn't Jackson lost the original purpose of the story somewhere along the way? He has taken an enchanting and unique work of literature and retold it in the terms of the modern action picture. If Tolkien had wanted to write about a race of supermen, he would have written a Middle-Earth version of "Conan the Barbarian." But no. He told a tale in which modest little hobbits were the heroes. And now Jackson has steered the story into the action mainstream. To do what he has done in this film must have been awesomely difficult, and he deserves applause, but to remain true to Tolkien would have been more difficult, and braver.

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Friday, December 20, 2002


Alas, it was not to be. I braved pouring rain and rush-hour traffic to try to see The Two Towers, but the show was sold out before I got there. It's the fault of all you guys who are going to see it multiple times! You should give the rest of us a chance! At this point, I probably won't get to see it until after Christmas, since I really don't want to brave the weekend crowds, and will be leaving town to visit my father on Monday. Oh well, I'm sure it will still be good when I eventually get to see it.
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Oh my gosh, the web is a wonderful thing. After writing the previous post, I did a quick web search to see if I could find anything about Acting Shakespeare. And what did I find but the complete script (complete with handwritten notations by the actor)! Check it out!
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I just watched an Actor's Studio interview with Ian McKellen on Bravo. It was a very interesting interview about his entire career, with just a brief mention of the X-Men and The Lord of the Rings. He was convinced to do X-Men by the way the director characterized the story: "The X-men, who are mutants, are the outcasts of society, who are different, and who are reviled because they are different....The X-men are actually discussing and fighting out the problems of what it is to be a disadvantaged young person, if you're gay, you're black, or whatever you are." He said that he was attracted to the Lord of the Rings partly because it was a good story, and partly because Peter Jackson and his wife "were so eccentric, they were so outside Hollywood's notion of filmmaking".

He also mentioned a one-man show that he starred in many years ago called "Acting Shakespeare", which I had the good fortune to see when it came through Boston. It was performed in the Charles St. Playhouse, which is a very small and intimate theater, and I remember being really blown away by his performance. In the show, he talked about how Shakespeare was an actor, and many of his most famous speeches made explicit or subtle references to acting as a metaphor for life. As well as performing brilliantly, he also analyzed and explained the meaning of several speeches in great detail. I'm glad I had that opportunity to see him in person.
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The first two days of my extended holiday vacation were pretty busy, as I was running around doing all of the routine things that I would have done on the weekend if I hadn't been away: laundry, groceries, paying bills, etc. Also worked on sending out Christmas cards, although was a little frustrated to find that some addresses that I thought I had on my pda weren't actually there. Don't know if I have just been lax in entering them, or if I got another sync error. Annoying, in any case.

Last night I cooked the below-mentioned soup and brought it over to Alex's along with an assortment of other food for our marathon session of watching the Amazing Race and Survivor finales. Much fun. The Amazing Race went from Viet Nam (very interesting segment) to Hawaii to Seattle. We were amazed that Flo and Zach managed to win. Flo was the most annoying, whinning, complainer they have ever had on the show. She was totally inept, did very little on her own, and kept yelling at Zach about everything he did. Zach, on the other hand, was a total saint - kept calming her down and urging her to keep trying - and he totally deserves the 1/2 million dollars he'll be getting. (Actually, he deserves most of Flo's 1/2 million also...) I was pleased that the older couple came in 2nd. I didn't like them much (they weren't very nice to each other a lot of the time), but I'm always pleased when the older guys manage to hold their own. I was really rooting for the brothers who finished third, who had been pleasant to everyone throughout the race. Alex and I think the show should have a second prize that is awarded by vote of the other competitors, to reward people for being civil to each other.

Survivor was also interesting. Brian, the smooth and manipulative ex porn star and used-car salesman, had the game going his way the whole time and made it straight through to the end. He may be the smartest player they've ever had. We both felt sorry for Helen, who got stabbed in the back and finished fourth. The jury had a tough decision between Brian, who had lied his way to the top, and Clay, who had done very little work and who had travelled to the finals on Brian's coattails. In the end Brian won by one vote (although Helen, who voted for him, said that after watching the show and seeing how she had been used, she should have voted for Clay.) Helen had tried to put together a coalition of three of the last five, but Jan had wavered and stuck with Brian. She said in the reunion show that she was just brain dead after 5 weeks on the island and wasn't thinking straight.

Today I have more routine household stuff to finish up, then I'm hoping to go to an afternoon show of The Two Towers.
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Healthy recipe of the week is from Saved by Soup, a wonderful collection of tasty, easy-to-make low-fat soups by Judith Barrett. Ginger and Sweet Potato Soup with Cilantro. Thinly slice the white part of 1 medium-sized leek and chop up one medium-sized carrot. Cook until soft (2-3 min) in 2 ts olive oil. Add 2 lbs sweet pototoes, peeled and cubed, a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped, and 4 cups chicken or veggie broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 min or until potatoes are soft. Blend until smooth. Garnish with additional grated ginger and chopped cilantro. Note: When I made this, I couldn't find leeks so used 1/2 a large red onion instead and it came out fine.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2002


You are: William Gibson

The chief inspirer of the "cyberpunk" wave of the 1980s, his razzle-dazzle futuristic intrigues were, for a while, the most imitated work in science fiction.

Which Science-Fiction Writer Are You?
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SF fans might enjoy this pictoral tour of the Tor Books editorial offices
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I had a meeting with my boss yesterday to ask if I could switch to part time (4 days/week) starting in January, and she said, "Yeah, sure". I'm so happy. I just hope there's no hitch in getting it through management, etc. There is already at least one other person in the group that is working part time, though, so I don't see how they can refuse me. The other good news is that we shipped V7 on Monday, so we have been given the rest of the year off as a reward. I don't know where to start - I have so many things on my to-do list. I am going to try to use the time productively and not just goof off.
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East Europe Railtours is using my photo of Bardejov on their web site. (See Day 4)
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Monday, December 16, 2002


We're having a little party here at work today to celebrate the release of version 7.0. I'm wearing a button Alex loaned me, reading "Software isn't released - it's allowed to escape", which is causing much amusement. Don't know how much work I'll be able to do for the rest of the afternoon - the margaritas they're serving are really strong....
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Sunday, December 15, 2002


I'm writing this from my hotel room in Philadelphia. We had a good trip down - at least the weather was fine. We did run into a lot of traffic in the NYC area, but that's only to be expected if you try to drive through there during rush hour. (We took the Tappan Zee bridge, but still hit a lot of traffic on the Garden State.) Having music from the iPod was really nice though, and I stayed in a good mood throughout. (Having Alex drive helped a lot, too.)

So far I have committed many sins of gluttony here. Philadelphia's Chinatown is really excellent and just a few blocks away from the hotel. So we started with dumplings and a beef and tofu dish at a Shanghai-style place, then went to Joe's Peking Duck House (where I had Peking Duck for the first time since the last time we were down here), and tonight we had chicken curry and garlic shrimp at a wonderful Burmese place. Brunch each day has been at the Reading Terminal Market - one morning apple cinnamon french toast at the Pennsylvania Dutch eating place, and one morning (I blush to admit) chocolate chip ice cream on a waffle cone at Bassett's. Tomorrow we're planning to do dim sum, and then it's off for the long drive home.

The convention has been fine. On Friday, before things really got started, we went over to the Franklin Institute, a science museum, and played with all their interactive exhibits. Today we spent time at the convention, working the Norascon 4 table and stopping in at a couple of program items. There was a Beatles sing-along with Spider Robinson, which was a lot of fun, and a very funny GoH speech by Connie Willis. Alex also got to see Robert Picardo (the actor who plays the holographic doctor in Star Trek), and I went to a talk on the physics of time travel. We also toured the art show, which featured Donato Giancola, and the dealer's room, which featured lots of books.
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Thursday, December 12, 2002


Alex sent me this link to an unusual computer problem.

We're getting ready to head off to Philadelphia in a few hours. Right now the weather looks okay; I hope it holds up. We're driving to save money, and also because Alex volunteered to do most of the driving. Alex gave me a stack of CDs that I've read into my iPod so we'll have new stuff to listen to on the trip down. We are both looking forward to just getting away from it all for a few days.
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Tuesday, December 10, 2002


Wow, here's a great web site called earthviewer. Type in an address and it shows you an aerial photo of the place. Here's my house. And here's my office, showing Prospect Hill Park. Cool!
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Today at work I had a bad case of engaging mouth (or fingers, in this case) before engaging brain. I misunderstood a situation and ranted about it to a fairly large audience before I learned some information that pretty much nullified my assumptions. I guess I'm just feeling more pressure than I realized. I had to send out a number of apologies. I then got several messages of support from people who know me well, but I suspect that I still pissed off a couple of other people, which I didn't really mean to do. Oh well, one more day and then I have a couple of days off to go with Alex to an sf convention in Philadelphia. Both of us could really use the break, I think.

This week's veggie recipe is Beets and Carrots with West Indian Spices, which I made this week with the last beets from my garden. Cook about 1 pound beets and 1 pound carrots and cut into slices or chunks. (Beets take about 40 minutes of boiling; the carrots more like 5 minutes). Combine the following ingredients in a saucepan: 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, grated zest of 1 orange, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon mace. Cook until thickened, and then simmer the veggies in the sauce for about 5 minutes.
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Monday, December 09, 2002


Got all my errands and chores done on Saturday, and then spent a nice relaxing Sunday with Alex. We went to Chinatown for dim sum, then watched the Patriots beat Buffalo, then watched the first disk of the extended edition of Lord of the Rings. The extended edition has a lot of nice new stuff, including a new chapter "Concerning Hobbits", plus a short scene showing the elvish procession the hobbits encountered in the woods (and very lovely that was indeed). I'm looking forward to seeing the new footage on Lothlorien, which I thought wasn't very well-done in the original version.
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Saturday, December 07, 2002


Here's that pasta recipe I mentioned a few days ago. Bring 1/3 cup veggie stock to a simmer over moderate heat, add 2 red bell peppers cut in 1/2-inch strips, and simmer for 5-8 min. Add 4 cups Swiss chard cut in 1/2-inch strips, 2 minced cloves garlic and 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon's worth). Cook, stirring, until the greens are wilted, 3-4 min. Add 1 can drained white beans and season with salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Serve over 1/2 pound penne or other pasta.
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Friday turned out to be a pretty good day at work. Finally everything seemed to be working, and I was able to run through a whole gamut of tests. We may actually ship this thing on time. Which would be really great, because if we ship on time, we're going to get an extra week off at the end of the month.
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Friday, December 06, 2002


It's still snowing here. I've been working from home this morning, but need to get up the energy to dig out and go into the office. It looks like I may actually be able to get some testing done today. Yesterday was another useless day, so I left early and hung out with Alex while it snowed. We got our fix of reality TV and then walked over to Davis Square in the snow to have dinner at Out of the Blue. Yummy leftovers (broiled haddock and risotto) will be lunch today, along with some steamed sugar snap peas.

Survivor has been interesting this season. At the start, it seemed that one of the teams which consisted of most of the older players, was doomed, but as it turned out, the older players formed a stronger team and persevered. Now they're down to the last 5 players and not one of them is from the original younger team. On Amazing Race, also, one of the older pairs has stuck it out to be part of the final 4. Unfortunately, they're pretty obnoxious, so I'm not rooting for them to win, but it's a nice comeupance for some of the younger guys who didn't have much respect for them at the start. The few episodes of Amazing Race were in Austria and Switzerland, with some pretty amazing mountain scenary, and a quick glimpse of Zurich (which I visited two years ago when my Dad and I went to see cousin Iveta in Basel). Then they moved on to Kuala Lumpar and Singapore (a place Alex visited a few times on business trips when he was installing software on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson. In fact there's a funny story where he arrived in Singapore on the Carl Vinson and then had some difficulty leaving the country because he hadn't entered through the standard immigration authorities. And he was trying to get home in time for his sister's wedding. But it all worked out in the end.)
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Wednesday, December 04, 2002


Well, I spoke too soon about work. I got in two or three days of really quality testing, then yesterday I spent 4 hours installing and configuring the latest build, only to find that it was unusable. (Something totally unconnected with what I was testing was not working, and that prevented me from actually to getting to what I was supposed to be testing.) Things are still broken today. So I have been twiddling my thumbs, updating test plans and installation procedures and just generally trying to find useful things to do while the things I really need to do are just not possible. So frustrating.

Today's healthy veggie dish is pasta with Swiss chard, red peppers, white beans, and lemon peel. Pretty good. I don't have the recipe handy, but I'll type it in later when I get home.

I've been running the pet fountain while I'm home, and Katisha seems to like it a lot. They recommend using it for a week without running the motor to get your pet accustomed to it, but I just gave her a day and that seemed to be enough. I turned it on yesterday and while I was watching she went up and took a nice long drink. It's very quiet. I wonder if it would be best to plug it in in the bathroom where there's a GFI socket.

Parking in Philly (at the hotel, anyway) is $28 a night! That's about 1/3 again the cost of the room. But still cheaper than the train. Of course, on the train, you can read and sleep. But you're constrained to their schedule. I think we'll probably choose to drive.

I had a nice long chat with Nancy Atherton last night. She's settled into her new home in Colorado Springs. She described the great weather (in the 60's) and the view of Pike's Peak from her back deck. (I'm ready to fly out for a visit. :-) ) She also said that she loves her new Macintosh (she's a recent switcher). There's an Apple store just down the road from her new house, and she says they've been very helpful whenever she's had questions. I'm really glad to hear it. Nancy is one of the most computer-phobic people I know - she used an obsolete word processor for the longest time because she just didn't want to deal with upgrading and learning a new system. So it's really a tribute to the Mac that she is finding it easy to use.
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Tuesday, December 03, 2002


Work has been a bit more interesting. The piece I am supposed to be testing is finally working (more or less), so I am roaring through my test plans, filing bug reports, and generally making progress. I hope to be done by the middle of next week, so Alex and I can take off for Philcon, a weekend science fiction convention in Philadelphia. We looked into taking the train but the cost for 2 is $352 roundtrip. Almost as much as a plane. So now we are thinking of driving, although I need to find out what the parking cost at the hotel would be. The hotel itself is a good deal - somethng like $80/night for a nice Marriott in downtown Philly.
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Monday, December 02, 2002


I got my Petmate Purifying Pet Fountain today. After going through the 18 setup and assembly steps, I read the fine print: "Keep the unit unplugged when not under direct observation." Well then, what's the point? I wanted to use it to make fresh water available when I couldn't be there. Oh well, it was a nice idea...
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Went out with Alex yesterday to see movies. Die Another Day was typical Bond - very entertaining, with outrageous stunts, beautiful women, stupid puns, and car chases that went on a bit too long. I found the title sequence, during which Bond is tortured for 14 months in a North Korean prison, visually amazing with its women of flame and ice, but just a little bit disturbing. Solaris was a more serious and thoughtful effort. It moved slowly, but I found it mesmerizing, like being in a dream. And it was the kind of movie that you need to talk about after you see it. I was very offended by one review I read, where the reviewer said Solaris was not science fiction because it didn't feature aliens or violence. I guess 2001 isn't science fiction then either. It's really too bad that the fact that moviemakers tend to focus on the horror and adventure side of sf have led some people to believe that's all sf is. Roger Ebert's review is, as usual, spot on.
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Sunday, December 01, 2002


Why Nov. 28 will prove scarier in the long run for airline passengers than Sept. 11 - now we've got to worry about getting shot down by surface-to-air missiles.
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