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Jul. 13th, 2014 @ 09:42 pm Time Well Spent
Fun things from this week:

Saw Snowpiercer at the Brattle. "Hunger Games"-on-a-train by way of the cinematographic conventions of Korean action movies. Good stuff if you're willing to take your sci-fi more than a bit absurdist.

Julie took me to Giulia for my birthday, an amazing meal.

I went to the Union Square Farmers Market this weekend and did a bit of cooking. Steamed carrots, long red Florence onions, and baby kohlrabi with fresh sage. Sauteed rainbow chard and various other exotic greens with lemon. Made a salad with cucumber and red sorrel. Bought a loaf of pain d'epi (a pretty baguette variation I hadn't seen before) and served it with Fiore de Nonno burrata. All very good.

I got in a bit of biking yesterday, and today I took Hubway everywhere and biked about 14 miles.

At work a big project is being slow to warm up, but I've been putting in a lot of effort to make documentation improvements that I didn't have enough time to get to this past quarter. Feels good to finally get to that.
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L33t
Jul. 6th, 2014 @ 02:18 am Relaxing With Hurricanes and Spiders
I'm back, as of earlier this afternoon.

Sandy Island was fun. Read a ton, played quite a few games of cribbage, and took a nice kayak trip around Ragged Island. The weather was unusually good this summer, mild days and comfortable nights most of the week. On Thursday night, Hurricane Arthur brought in intense thunderstorms followed by at least thirty hours of continuous rain.

The island had an unusually high deer population this year. Normally if there are deer on the island, they try to stay out of sight, but this year they were grazing on the ball field during the day and foraging near the cabins at night. Lots of ducks, too, though no groups of ducklings yet this time. Also seemed to be an unusual number of spiders. Saw the biggest spider I've ever seen at camp and chased it out of my cabin; I think it was a male tan jumping spider from its huge size, kind-of-tarantula-like appearance, and alarming jumping ability. And watched a smaller spider (some sort of orb-weaver, probably) in the process of constructing a large spoke-and-wheel style web. Always cool to watch something small build big structures.

It was nice to have some time with my folks and some vacation with Julie. Unfortunately, my siblings were both away from Sandy this year. My sister was busy, and my brother was not feeling up for the road-trip. I hope they'll be able to make the vacation at some point in future years.

Enjoying the weekend, looking forward to my return to work.
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Hope
Jun. 27th, 2014 @ 10:54 pm Back Later
Week of July 4, so I'm disappearing for a week starting tomorrow. Off to Sandy Island Camp with Julie and my folks. See you later!
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L33t
Jun. 19th, 2014 @ 10:54 pm Lazy-Mode Cooking
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I did a lot of cooking this week, mostly simple recipes. What I made with one box of vegetables plus a few additions:
Roast Chicken with Parsnip, Apple, and Chive
Potato-less Corned Beef Hash with Sunchoke and Black Radish
Green Lettuce Salad with Mango, Avocado, and Mushrooms
Kale Sauteed with Preserved Lemons
Chard Sauteed with Onions and Sauerkraut

Most of these were super-simple. The only really labor-intensive bits were washing the lettuce (I've resigned myself to rinsing each leaf individually, I've neither found a way to make good salad with gritty greens nor a way to get the grit out without being really thorough) and finely cubing the sunchoke and black radish for the corned beef. Most of the ingredients were cheap, too, except the corned beef, which was purchased from Whole Foods at an absurd price per pound. But I only got a quarter pound of that, and at least it was particularly delicious.
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Food
Jun. 11th, 2014 @ 09:35 pm The Nieceling Has Orbited Once
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Man oh man, I can't believe it's been a year already since my niece was born. It was great to see so much of that part of my extended family. Glad that all of Julie's siblings and all of the niece's grandparents could be in attendance. I enjoyed spending time with Jimmy's folks, too. (My sister-in-law's husband's parents are my what, aunt-and-uncle-in-law-squared? I'm glad to have them in my family.)

And of course most of all enjoyed spending time with my niece, Emilia, who is now walking and vocalizing (talking not quite yet) and pushing chairs around and eating a bit of grown-up food (though surely that will be easier once she has more than 1.5 teeth). Very strong and outgoing kid.

The party was fun, definitely the most elaborate birthday celebration I've been to for a one-year-old.

Are all Florida babies that cheerful? Admittedly my sample size is small, but I have yet to see a counter-example. Maybe it's the weather.

The trip went smoothly. JetBlue continues to be a winner.

The only downside was I got smacked with a bad cold. Out sick from work Tuesday (though I managed to conference-call in for book group) and still pretty brain-fogged today (the best part of today was biking home). Better than yesterday, though, so I'm hoping I'll be back to health in a day or two.
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Ph34r
Jun. 5th, 2014 @ 11:56 pm Last-Minute Post Before I Skip Town
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Last weekend: The American Craft Beer Festival. Fun as always. Notable favorites this time included Watch City Brewing Company's "Ken Lee" (a brilliant beer with hibiscus) and Element Brewing Company's "Extra Special Oak" (emphasis on the "extra oak").

This week at work: Slow going, and a lot of unit tests.

This week in other things: That Game of Thrones adaptation sure doesn't pull any punches!

This weekend: Flying down to Florida to visit my niece and celebrate her first birthday. Going to be fun!

Feel like I need the vacation already, too.
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Ph34r
May. 23rd, 2014 @ 03:38 pm Lousy End to a Busy Week
The good news is that today, I finally have some time to relax! Bad news, however, is "because I'm home with a terrible stomach bug".

Last weekend, went to my cousin Ben's wedding. Was great seeing so much of my family, and Rhinebeck, NY was really pretty.

The first part of that book discussion of Oryx and Crake that I participated in appeared in this week's episode of the C-Realm Podcast.

At work, I'm trying to get a project I've been working on a while completed, but it's accumulated so much stuff along the way that it's confusing to test and review. So trying to untangle that and get it tested and checked in piece by piece. There's so much to do.
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Microbes
May. 10th, 2014 @ 11:14 pm Weekend Between Weddings
Last weekend was DJ and Michelle's wedding. I was honored to be in the wedding party. Many congratulations to the happy couple!

Work is still crazy. Last week got my promo feedback. The bad news is that I didn't get promoted, even though I'd thought my case was strong enough this time. The good news is I got more positive and more specific feedback than my last attempt: Work on larger projects with a broader scope, show leadership by doing things that facilitate / coordinate the efforts of a larger group. I've made some adjustments to my plans with those priorities in mind, and last week was wildly productive. I hope I can maintain that rate of productivity.

Today, I participated in a discussion of the book Oryx and Crake for the C-Realm Podcast. The book is worth reading if you like dystopian / apocalyptic fiction. Just checked the sequel out from the library.

The book group at work just finished a book of Joel Spolsky's essays, which was interesting but probably not very helpful in my day-to-day work. But our next choice is Working Effectively With Legacy Code, which I expect will be mind-explodingly relevant.

The weather is summery this weekend. Today was a beautiful day for biking, and I made it home just in time to avoid a torrential late-afternoon downpour. Temps getting up near 80 on Monday.

Julie is away this weekend visiting her folks for Mother's Day. Next weekend is my cousin Ben's wedding.
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Conga!
May. 1st, 2014 @ 12:57 am Games and Fun
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Last weekend, made it to the Magic: the Gathering prerelease tournament for Journey into Nyx, the last set in the Theros block. First time I've attended a prerelease in a while. I won two rounds 2-1 and then lost two 0-2 and 1-2. The format was interesting in that there was a choice of promo cards and you could include the promo cards in the tournament deck, which made the deck-building a bit more focused than usual. Saw some interesting plays with Ajani (a lucky inclusion in one of my packs) and Hero's Bane (the green promo card), I lost the last game when one of the latter came down on me for 272 damage.

FTL Advanced Edition is pretty cool, but I have not had time to play it yet. Super Hexagon is awesome and I even managed to beat the easiest difficulty, which is insanely hard.

Spring has arrived and the blossoms are beautiful, though it has been rainy this week.

DJ's wedding is this weekend. I am excited!
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Pwnt
Apr. 21st, 2014 @ 08:36 pm PyCon Talks and Two Weeks' Travels
The weekend before last, I was out of town at PyCon. It was fun representing Google at the career fair, and I enjoyed the talks I attended. I was able to work from the Montreal office that Monday before heading home. I see why people are so happy at that office, it's a neat little space with a small engineering team. Plus Montreal seemed like a pretty interesting and friendly city.

Some talks of note:A larger set of talks and tutorials is up here.

This weekend was marathon weekend, yet another weekend when all the things happen at once. Bergamot serves an amazing Easter brunch.

Getting ready for wedding season. DJ and Michelle are getting married in two weeks, my cousin Ben's wedding is two weeks after that.

The situation in Ukraine continues to be messed up.
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L33t
Mar. 29th, 2014 @ 06:06 pm L33t Links: About Time
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Links post! Been far too long since I did one of those. Some very select stuff from the past few months:

Side Effected: A short-story film by my cousin Lev, now making the film festival circuit. Good stuff.

Daylight Savings Time is Terrible: A proposal to eliminate daylight savings time and move the continental US to two time-zones. It would certainly make working on the east coast for a west coast based company a bit more convenient.

The Turning Point in Freestyle Chess: Chess computers play at grandmaster level, but for now humans plus computers are the ultimate chess-playing team. But will that stay the case?

Barcelona as Airport Suburb: Housing prices have become so high in London that it might be cheaper to live in Barcelona and commute via Ryanair four days a week. Crazy stuff, though I wouldn't want the economic viability of my living arrangement to be dependent on the exact pricing model of a single discount airline.

The 120 Hour Workweek: An interesting experiment in productivity and self-quantification.

More Guests, Empty Houses: An article on the effect of AirBnB on housing prices in Marfa, Texas.

21 Amazing Hotels: Pretty pictures!
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L33t
Mar. 20th, 2014 @ 11:56 pm What Are You Waiting For?
Current Mood: tiredtired
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Life has been busy, but it's still a bit much to keep up with it all!

At work, it's performance-review time, I'm once again (1.5 years after my last unsuccessful effort) going up for promotion, and I think my case is strong this time. But explaining my work in a high-stakes way to a group of people who probably don't know anything about my work, well, that's way more stressful than doing my work is at the worst of times. Still, most of my work for that is done, and my actual-job work has been going well.

Last weekend, Julie and I went to NYC. Got a much-needed mini-vacation, got a bit of rest, ate some amazing food (Indian Road Cafe is a beautiful spot with an amazing brunch, the chicken and waffles at Sweet Chick was phenomenal, Puddin' continues to be my top candidate for the next fancy-desert trend, the sandwiches at Xe Máy were amazing, and Booker and Dax's cocktails set the standard for bartending-meets-mad-science). Was lovely to see Nikki and Emmett again, with time for actual conversation (last time I saw them was at the wedding, which was wonderful but a bit of a whirlwind). We saw the all-star-cast version of Waiting for Godot, excellent acting and a way weirder play than I remembered (and I remembered it as pretty strange). Missed Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade (just as well), but managed to have some good beer.

Today, finished playing a run of Jenna Moran's awesome, meta-fictional (meta-ludological?) aptly-named tabletop game WTF with Xavid and Co. It was fun, and quite playable, even without the supplement (which we didn't need, but makes some amount of sense now that I've played the game).

Looking forward to another weekend.
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Train
Mar. 8th, 2014 @ 09:40 pm Week of Troubling and Strange News
World news has certainly been interesting this week. There's the situation in Ukraine, which on the plus side seems to have a very high ratio of military maneuvers to actual violence for a war (there's still a complete lack of any casualties from military action). Does this end with Russia quasi-annexing Crimea just as with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008? Probably.

There was also a serious aviation disaster today, as Malaysia Airlines flight 370 went missing, presumed crashed. There aren't too many things that could cause a 777 to be instantly destroyed in clear skies, and it seems that at least two passengers made it aboard using stolen passports (if that's a rare occurrence, that's likely to be related, but I don't know if it is, maybe criminals make it on to flights for that journey using reported-stolen passports all the time due to lax or corrupt security). 777s are insanely reliable aircraft, this is by far the worst 777 accident (there have only been two other 777 accidents with three fatalities total, all from a crash last year).

Earlier this week, Newsweek returned to print with a splash by ruining the life (I hope that is hyperbole) of some guy who used to be named Satoshi Nakamoto (who now goes by Dorian). Personally, I think Leah Goodman's desire for a scoop resulted in her shoving this guy into the spotlight on some pretty flimsy evidence. I can't be sure that Dorian Nakamoto isn't Bitcoin's creator, but from the evidence I've seen I think it's most likely he's not. That he denies it says little, and a denial from one of Satoshi Nakamoto's accounts (disused for some years) says even less, but the background doesn't fit well and an analysis of writing under both names makes it seem like the two are different individuals. Of course, it could be an elaborate ruse, but I currently think that unlikely.
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Doom
Mar. 3rd, 2014 @ 07:52 pm 'Til Another Year
Intercon (live-action gaming convention) was this past weekend, and it was fun!

Friday evening, played in "Last Fair Deal Gone Down", which had a story about supernatural deals gone wrong, an evocative setting out of American folk music and blues, and the best use of in-story music in a theatrical game that I've seen. Included one character singing O Death as they attempted to ward off a supernatural ferryman, which made for a really great scene.

On Saturday, I was looking forward to playing "Heithur" since Andrew, a friend of mine, was one of the people writing/running it. I certainly liked the characters and setting (supernatural noir in a setting where Norway instead of Britain became the great power of the world). But there were some real glitches in how it was run, so I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I'd hoped.

I really liked Xave's late-night game "Persona: Too Late" (based on the video game series, especially Persona 3 and Persona 4). Really captured the feel of the source material in a remarkable way, and ran pretty smoothly for a first run without much prior play-testing. Plus the midnight time-slot was perfect for a game set in "the Dark Hour" (lots of fantasy stories involve some supernatural place imperceptible to most, in Persona 3 that place is a supernatural 13th hour inhabited by vengeful shadows).

Also played in one of the Iron GM games (a game-writing competition where games are written from some strange set of story elements in 24 hours one weekend and then run the next) and a game based on The Thin Man movies (which wasn't very well tuned but certainly captured the setting well).
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L33t
Feb. 25th, 2014 @ 01:52 pm Schedule Conflicts
I made plans to go to PAX East and then realized I'd have to miss them to go to PyCon (decided to do the latter anyways).

I made plans to go to Pi-Con (was excited that was happening again after hiatus last year) but then had to unmake them because that conflicted with Sandy Island. I neglected to realize that "the last weekend in June" overlaps with "the week of July 4".

Argh...
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Exile
Feb. 23rd, 2014 @ 12:51 am Things That Are Awesome
Current Mood: awakeawake
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I haven't been as exhausted this week as when I made that last post, but still haven't found the wherewithal to write more frequently. Still tired, work is still busy. But enjoying various social activities, and cooking continues to be fun. Winter vegetables from our vegetable box plus scrambled eggs has made for some great breakfasts.

I'll just talk about a few bits of media I've enjoyed recently:

Robocop: Saw this one with Film Club. I enjoyed it. I'm glad the film wasn't just the original with better graphics, this one was about as different as it could be while having basically the same plot (the new one is played straight, the original is more satirical).

The Lego Movie: It's (appropriately enough) awesome, the music is catchy, the animation is brilliant, the story is fun, and it really captures the zeitgeist of Lego (that is to say, the crazy intersection between the kind of somewhat-incoherent narrative play kids do with Lego-the-toys and the kind of somewhat-incoherent toy-centered multimedia world-building done by Lego-the-company). If you like animated films or Lego you should definitely see it, and it's worth catching on the big screen. (Some of the trailers don't do it justice, disregard those and just see the movie.)

The Last of Us: Finally finished playing through the main story of this game, and it deserves the critical acclaim it received. Recommended if you like stealth-action video games or post-apocalyptic fiction. The score and art direction are excellent, the game mechanics are interesting and work well with the story. When Melissa visited, she commented on the particularly effective fight direction in the game. It really is one of the more remarkable elements. A lot of action games have very swashbuckling action-movie-y violence, but the combat in The Last of Us seems brutal, creepy, and unsettling, which really underlines the horrific elements of the setting and the moral ambiguity (to say the least) of the protagonist.
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L33t
Feb. 13th, 2014 @ 10:49 pm Exhaustion
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
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The last two weeks I've been exhausted every evening. I've been fighting a mild cold, not too bad during the day, but it's been leaving me a bit sore and extremely tired. Last week I was at least good at getting to bed early, this week less so. Need to get back to that. The more tired I am, the harder it is to go to bed early. Someone told me that it's a truism for medical students in residency that "the later you stay, the later you stay", and I sure understand the truth of that. Being tired makes it hard to get to bed early or leave a late night at work, which makes it hard to get extra sleep.

Have Presidents' Day off, really looking forward to a long weekend.
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L33t zombie
Feb. 2nd, 2014 @ 11:04 pm A Bit of Game Day
Current Mood: okayokay
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This weekend I have an aggravating cold and have generally been sticking close to home, with a few exceptions. Yesterday, I managed to catch up on some chores, and Julie and I went out to dinner with friends at Stella. Today, ate delicious leftover pasta, played Dominion against my phone, and managed to get out to catch the end of the big game (this prediction from Friday is an excellent analysis of the game even before it happened). I also got started on taxes and was preoccupied with work. It feels like the weekend has barely started, and it's already at its end. I suppose I should get ready for tomorrow and get a good night's sleep.
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L33t zombie
Jan. 28th, 2014 @ 10:49 pm Wheels When I Want Them
Current Mood: awakeawake
It was great to see Melissa again and hear about her artistic endeavors.

Visiting family was fun. The trip out to the Cape on Sunday went all right. Weather was clear, the drive went fine (though I drive infrequently enough that driving in Boston is always an adventure), and Julie finally got a chance to meet my Aunt Alice.

We also went out for a fantastic dinner at Journeyman on Saturday night. Even better than the last time I ate their. The chef's counter makes for a really impressive show.

Flights were cancelled on Monday due to Chicago being frozen again, but Melissa was rebooked and flow home via Baltimore instead.

The weather was briefly warm on Monday and then got cold again, but at least it's not as cold as the midwest.

Work is going well, but still stressful. Lots to do.

Actually catching up on sleep.
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L33t
Jan. 24th, 2014 @ 06:14 pm More Consciousness
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
I continue to fail to write.

Last weekend was the MIT Mystery Hunt. This year was Alice in Wonderland themed, surprisingly a Hunt theme that hadn't been done before. I wasn't able to focus on hunt as much as in past years, but I participated some. My team had their best performance yet, actually finishing all of hunt this time and coming in fifth place. Puzzles and solutions are here, my favorite puzzles included:My work continues to be busy, but I'm finally seeing some positive results on my project of the last few weeks. The reading group at work is now reading Joel on Software.

Watched The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki, which was everything I expected from Mamoru Hosoda (the director). A good, moving story, and some really well-done animation.

Went out to a concert on Wednesday, saw Elizabeth and the Catapault at Brighton Music Hall. Good stuff. Opening band was Neulore.

This weekend, Melissa (my sister) is in town and we're taking some time to visit extended family.

It continues to be super-cold in Boston, but this week's snowstorm wasn't nearly as bad as anticipated.

This all seems pretty fragmentary, which is yet another reminder to write things I want to write when they're fresh in my head.
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L33t zombie