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Oct. 22nd, 2014 @ 12:04 am Inman in Transition
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Tags: ,
It seems the heart of Inman Square (that is, the block of Cambridge St. between Inman St. and Prospect St.) is in a major transitional phase. There are more closed shops than I've seen since I moved in. Inman Square Supermarket (a small convenience/grocery store) is now gone. The Cambridge Bukowski is closed for renovations (supposedly reopening in the fall, but doesn't look ready yet). Haveli (an Indian restaurant) is gone, to be replaced by Hops N Scotch (but that doesn't look like it will be opening soon). Christina's Spice Shop is closed in prep for a move further up Cambridge Street.

It seems like economic growth pains as opposed to economic decline, but it still looks like a painful transition.
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L33t
Oct. 20th, 2014 @ 01:02 am Extra Late Summer
Current Mood: tiredtired
Last weekend: BarCamp Boston (a tech unconference) was fun. Probably the sessions I got the most out of were a discussion of technical interviews, which prompted me to write this essay, and a workshop on public speaking by Eric Wei.

Last week: Work was very busy, but I made good progress on several things. I gave my presentation for QPX Training and got good feedback.

This weekend: Summery weather yesterday (the last for the year?). Had brunch on the patio at Neighborhood Restaurant and went to the Union Square Farmer's Market. There was a Yelp Somerville party at Brooklyn Boulders in the evening. Today, the weather turned cold. Broke my winter jacket out of storage and put some summer clothes away.

This week: Thursday and Friday I'll be attending the Google Cambridge Leadership Summit.

Next weekend: Julie's dad and sister and our niece will be in town!
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L33t
Oct. 7th, 2014 @ 12:34 am Apple Picking and Fall Cooking
Current Mood: fullfull
Tags: , , ,
On Saturday, Julie and I went apple-picking with Xavid, Sarah, and Leslie. Then we went home, visited the newly-renovated Savenor's (open again as of a few weeks ago, but just then celebrating their reopening), and cooked up a storm: Delicata squash with apples and bacon, pumpkin stuffed with kasha and venison, roast pumpkin seeds with espresso salt, and homemade applesauce.

Savenor's has redone their Cambridge location to really focus on what they do best. They've ditched the produce section (which had a hard time setting itself above and beyond Whole Foods and local farmers markets) and shrunk the selection of packaged specialty foods to something much more curated and interesting. Their display of meats now stretches across the store, they have a display cooler for dry-aged steaks, and their selection of cheese has improved, too (or at least is shown off more effectively). Wolf Meadow Farm was sampling their cheese at the grand reopening, and it was just incredible.

Today, we made cabbage pie (like spinach pie, vegetable with egg and feta in layered filo). Turned out delicious!

At work this week, I'm preparing a presentation for a training session that will be held next week. I'm looking forward to helping new colleagues with a feature of my project I know a lot about, but it's a lot of material to prepare in very little time.
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L33t
Sep. 30th, 2014 @ 12:01 am Common Ground
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
Two of my friends from high school, Matt and Dan, have started a political anti-debate podcast titled The Common Ground. It's a little rough around the edges (they still need to format their podcast feed correctly), but I think it's quite good. Check it out.
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Colbert
Sep. 28th, 2014 @ 02:31 pm Soylent Beige
Current Mood: okayokay
Tags: , , ,
My shipment of Soylent (Rob Rhinehart's crowd-funded future-food) arrived earlier this week, and I'm drinking my first glass now, as I write this post.

It's a little thicker than milk and just a tad powdery. Flavor is very mild, like milk with some sort of bland biscuit, mild yeast and vanilla. (Now that I think about it, it tastes really, really similar to rice milk, which is unsurprising, since the protein is from brown rice.) Not at all bad, but not super appealing, either. In culinary terms, it seems to be in the same league as other commercial protein shakes I've had.

It still could make a decent snack (or small meal) substitute for those times when I'm deep in the middle of some work and want something filling, but don't want either prep work or decisions. But I doubt I'll want to do the work required just to keep the stuff on hand. (Maybe if it's successful, they'll come out with a bottled version and work will stock it, haha.)
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L33t
Sep. 27th, 2014 @ 09:00 pm Fluff and Nonsense
Current Mood: tiredtired
Tags: , , , ,
I thought summer had gone for good, but there's some nice warm weather this weekend.

The week was very nice. Enjoying biking while the weather was good, enjoyed riding home after the party Monday. Weather just nice enough that it's pleasant to bike near the Charles. My Hubway key broke later in the week (after being on its last legs for a long while), but the replacement arrived today.

Rosh Hashanah dinner with family was nice, and my parents sent the usual care package of honey cake and well wishes. (Thanks, it was delicious!)

There are many challenging things to work on this week at work, so the week was very tiring.

Today, I got some chores done and went to the Marshmallow Fluff Festival in Union Square (very lively this year, big crowd turned out for the wonderful weather). And now I am exhausted.

But is was a good week, and I still have a day to relax before work resumes.
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L33t
Sep. 22nd, 2014 @ 06:42 pm A Wedding, Games, and Fall Festivities
Friday: Went to one of WMBR's 50 Years of Boston Rock concert series at Cuisine en Locale at Anthony's (up on Highland in Somerville). Very cool venue. Mistle Thrush did not disappoint, all the music was great, and the sheer quantity of getting the band back together made for a fun atmosphere.

Saturday: Thomas and Melissa (friends from SCA dance) got married. Julie and I went to their wedding at St. James's Episcopal Church near Porter Square (my first time attending a church wedding ceremony). They had some cool wedding clothes (which Melissa made herself, including some really elaborate and beautiful embroidery), and there was a reception afterwards at the German-American Club in Walpole with board games and cake. (The German-American Club is a pretty cool event venue, I'd been there previously for SCA events. Aside from the usual things that would recommend a venue for large events, they have excellent beer and they're the only event venue I've seen with a cash bar that doesn't charge captive audience prices.) It was a wonderful time, and a very heart-warming occasion. Best wishes to the happy couple!

Sunday: Xave ran the game he wrote for Iron GM at Intercon again, so I had a chance to play it. Was fun.

This week is going to be busy in a good way, too. Yelp Elite fall party this evening, Rosh Hashana dinner with family on Wednesday, Fluff Festival next Saturday. The weather is getting colder and fall festivities abound!
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Conga!
Sep. 15th, 2014 @ 12:04 am FIG and Farewells
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Tags: ,
The Boston Festival of Indie Games was on Saturday, and it was awesome! The video game portion was good, but I spent most of the day in the tabletop expo, playing demos of prototype and pre-release board and card games. Played RE:VERSUS (pre-release version of an "evil rummy" set-making cards-with-numbers game with simple-but-fun mechanics and great card design), Grave Robber's Dilemma (prototype of a simultaneous-reveal strategy game with a bit of dark humor), Skyline (co-op 3D perspective puzzle game), Moonquake Escape (prototype of an elaborate board game, don't know how well-balanced the strategy was, but it certainly had depth and a lot of zany action, would make a good family game-night game), Mutiny! (a prototype of a game based on the pirate game, fun, though it will surely need some adjustments and a new name), Goblin Law (prototype deck-building and card placing game with goblins and explosions, a fun game), and Starborne (pre-release simultaneous-reveal mech combat card game, mechanics and flavor were great, really fun; I wish their website had more pictures and description but I am definitely jumping on their Kickstarter as soon as it's up). And I didn't have time to see the half of it, the expo was a very lively event.

Sherman Cafe in Union Square closed for good this weekend. I'll really miss that place. It was a wonderful venue, with some amazing food and coffee. A very sad occasion for the neighborhood.

I was also surprised to find that Tommy Doyle's in Kendall Square has closed for good, abruptly going out of business Thursday with staff only notified day-of. Their Harvard Square location closed earlier this year, but I'd thought the Kendall location was doing well. Apparently not.
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L33t
Sep. 9th, 2014 @ 12:08 am Animated Zone
Current Mood: awakeawake
Current Music: Hannah Sanders & Liz Simmons - Fire and Wine
Tags: ,
This weekend, continued the trend of seeing lots of movies. Saw Guardians of the Galaxy (fun) and saw The Congress with Film Club (I loved it, but many in the group didn't like it at all).

Feeling a little stressed about performance reviews at work, where both the upside and the downside is that I'm not going up for promotion again yet. I feel like I understand what I need to do at work better than before, though, and this week got off to a good start.
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Yay!
Sep. 2nd, 2014 @ 12:08 am We Wish You an Allston Christmas, and a Happy School Year
Tags: , , , ,
My best wishes to all the celebrants (or penitents) of Allston Christmas this weekend (in particular, to the several friends I have suffering through the various stages of housing transition). Let me offer the traditional Allston Christmas prayer: May your nights be free of bedbugs, may your neighbor's curb be laden with good furniture, may you only encounter bridges with sufficient clearance for your moving vehicle, may your back and mind be uninjured by the burdens you must bear. Amen.

Julie and I went to the Brattle quite a lot this weekend. Saw The Godfather parts I and II double-feature on Saturday (indeed an amazing movie I'd missed seeing for far too long), Manhattan today (I didn't really like it that much, the ending was a bit too simple, the characters unsympathetic in a way that seems a bit too self-referential). This evening, rewatched some of Firefly with Xave and Sarah, Sunday afternoon played board games with some friends. The long weekend was pretty full and fun.
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Conga!
Aug. 29th, 2014 @ 11:33 pm Say Little or Much
Another week where I don't have the energy to post about the weekend until the next weekend.

Last weekend, Julie's dad visited us in Boston. We took a side-trip to Concord, New Hampshire, went to see the symphony at Tanglewood (Beethoven's 9th, an amazing performance), and had some amazing meals (in particular, my first time dining at the new(ish) Boston branch of Fogo De Chao).

On Wednesday, we went to a concert at Club Passim along with Xave and Sarah. Hanna Sanders and Liz Simmons opened, Katie McNally and her trio were the headline performance. Both acts were really amazing, it had been too long since the last time since I caught a show at Passim. We were hoping to get a meal at Veggie Planet (the restaurant at Passim) before it closed for good, but it seems they already packed up shop. Hopefully Passim will be able to replace the restaurant for its dinner concerts, but they were running a pretty good concession stand.

Work has been busy. I had an important meeting with a technical contact at an airline this week. I did some good work this week and encountered some frustration. Today had good parts, yesterday was a disaster. But I survive, to the long weekend. Performance reviews are coming up once again, but what do I have to show for the last six months? Much accomplished, but little complete. A bit frustrating.

The produce box that arrived today contains cantaloupe and callaloo (some strange green, but that name is used for a variety of vaguely related greens, so I don't know which one precisely this is).

I finished Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall (good story and setting, an interesting game) and read Lexicon (a pulpy thriller, very similar premise to Snow Crash but a less satirical setting).

Workouts have been good, but I have a bit of a pulled muscle in my neck. It's recovering, though.

Really glad to have a long weekend.
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Keepon
Aug. 18th, 2014 @ 11:15 pm International Lisp Conference in Montreal
Last weekend, I was at the International Lisp Conference in Montreal, at the beautiful University of Montreal. (I stayed in their ultra-cheap surplus dorm hotel, which was comfortable enough but not at all luxurious. Couldn't beat the location, though.)

There were some cool demos and academic stuff, but I was most focused on all the excitement on the practical side of Common Lisp:
  • ASDF 3 (a buildsystem and portability layer)
  • Quicklisp (a package management system, just (load "quicklisp.lisp") once to set it up, then (ql:quickload :package) to load a package and all of its dependencies, downloading and installing them automatically if necessary)
  • cl-launch (a program for running Common Lisp files as simple scripts (soon will be as simple as #!/usr/bin/cl plus your code) or creating standalone executables)
I'm not going to jump into thinking that a Common Lisp revolution is right around the corner, but the usability is going up.

I liked Robert Smith's presentation on cl-permutation. And Ken Wakita's presentation on ExJS, a hygenic macro system for JavaScript where the intermediate expression is Scheme code! (Seemed a bit like an inversion of the usual "when you have Lisp, you have any language" aphorism.) The proceedings are published here.
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Skilled
Aug. 13th, 2014 @ 09:09 pm Anniversary Feasting
Tags: , , ,
This week so far has been filled with anniversary celebrations! Can't believe it's been a year already!

Sunday, took Julie out for the chef's tasting at Menton. It was an incredibly elaborate meal, quite an experience.

Monday (our actual anniversary), we toasted the occasion with cake and wine set aside from our ceremony. The cake held up well, it looked and tasted pretty good (though couldn't avoid it smelling a bit freezer-y). The wine (2011 Coteaux du Layon "Clos de la Girardière", recommended by the folks at Bergamot) was still good, too, though for that I'd set aside an unopened bottle.

Tuesday, we went to a coffee cocktails popup event at WeWork Boston that was a collaboration between some folks at my favorite cafe and a bartender from some of my favorite bars (most recently Kirkland Tap & Trotter and Audubon). Four drinks: A gin and tonic with coffee-infused house-made tonic (Tyler: "By house-made, I mean I made it in my house"), a gin sour made with coffee simple syrup (pour-over-ice method), a boulevardier variant that adds cold-brew Gesha, and a pairing of Gelena Abaya pour-over served in a wine glass alongside a small glass of iced ti'punch. Was really fun, and supper at Row 34 after was also pretty amazing.
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Food
Jul. 31st, 2014 @ 07:29 pm Market Basket Watch
Here's a local news story I neglected to mention here earlier:

A local supermarket renowned for it's big crowds and cheap produce is in turmoil after the former CEO was ousted. The two main investors are cousins and their families, Arthur T. Demoulas (the former CEO) and Arthur S. Demoulas. After long-standing conflicts, the board ejected ATD and named James Gooch (a former president at RadioShack) and Felicia Thornton as co-CEOs. The Arthur S. side seems to be looking to increase shareholder dividends and possibly sell off the business to private equity. Other big supermarket chains in the area have significantly higher prices and worse employee compensation, so it doesn't take a genius to predict the planned new course for the company.

The result: Wildcat strikes and massive employee protests. Enough disruption to the warehouses to cause truckloads of spoilage and empty shelves in the stores (which was a bizarre sight to see there). Associates putting up protest signs in the store and picketing on their off-hours. Organizers fired, threats of mass firings. Counter-threats from pretty much every store manager of mass resignations. Sole demand of "return the old CEO". Many customers boycotting, others turning away due to the disruption in service. The whole massive supermarket chain wrecked in the space of a few weeks.

ATD has offered to buy out the other shareholders, but the board is considering other bids, and the ASD faction would have to accept the offer. I wouldn't be surprised to see him sell out to some big chain anyways. Sack the workers and sell the buildings to some other supermarket chain for a fraction of their previous value. Livelihoods wrecked and a successful business razed because owning half of a $3B enterprise wasn't enough to assuage ASD's greed.

More here, here, and here.
Entry Links
Jon Stewart
Jul. 29th, 2014 @ 12:42 am Storm and Sunshine
Current Mood: okayokay
Today started with torrential rain. A tornado in Everett and flooding in parts of the Boston area. By 10 or so, the weather turned beautiful again.

At work, moved desks to be closer to teammates on (somewhat) newly reorganized teams. My new office is an interior one, and still looks a bit bare. Maybe I can add a poster or something.

Spent a lot of time today fixing a test I'd thought already worked. Still, wasn't a bad day.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.
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L33t
Jul. 28th, 2014 @ 12:06 am Catching Up at End of Weekend
Current Mood: tiredtired
Cooking successes from the past weeks:
  • Kale with beet, pinto beans, and water chestnut seasoned with coriander, anise, and garam masala
  • Basil-lemon pickles (which made for amazing tuna salad)
  • Salad with red lettuce, mozzarella, heirloom tomato, and maxixe (a spiny cucumber)
  • Chicken, carrot, and onion glazed with Carr's Cider Syrup
Work was very full of busy-work last week, but reasonably productive.

Last Friday, I went to the release party for Amazon's new phone. Very interesting to see another company's effort at creating a full-fledged mobile ecosystem based on Android. The key features they add to Android: Firefly (image/audio-recognition camera app with an API, kind of like Google Goggles but recognizes more things and other developers can create plugins to recognize and react to more stuff), Dynamic Perspective (head-tracking simulated parallax 3D), and Mayday (live video customer-service). On the other hand, the disconnect from Google Play surely has some drawbacks, the maps app looks nice but I don't know if the navigation is good enough, and it's pretty expensive at $650 unlocked. They've definitely got my attention, though. There's some real UI and features innovation going on, which is cool to see.

Seems all the tech companies are expanding in Kendall Square.

Today, I climbed a bit at Brooklyn Bolders a rock-climbing gym that's only a few blocks from my house. I really should have gone sooner, they've been open for almost a year now. The location is really convenient for me, and I want to get back to climbing, I hadn't been for ages. Their setup seems pretty cool. Tons of bouldering courses, plenty of top-rope, and a fully equipped gym with weights and cardio equipment.

The week was tiring and this weekend is over far too soon.
Entry Links
Climbing
Jul. 13th, 2014 @ 09:42 pm Time Well Spent
Current Mood: happyhappy
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
Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
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
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
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
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Tags: ,
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