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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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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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Aug. 13th, 2014 @ 09:09 pm Anniversary Feasting
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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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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.
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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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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.
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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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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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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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Jun. 19th, 2014 @ 10:54 pm Lazy-Mode Cooking
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
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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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Jun. 11th, 2014 @ 09:35 pm The Nieceling Has Orbited Once
Current Mood: excitedexcited
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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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Jun. 5th, 2014 @ 11:56 pm Last-Minute Post Before I Skip Town
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
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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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May. 23rd, 2014 @ 03:38 pm Lousy End to a Busy Week
Current Mood: sicksick
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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May. 10th, 2014 @ 11:14 pm Weekend Between Weddings
Current Mood: busybusy
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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May. 1st, 2014 @ 12:57 am Games and Fun
Current Mood: bouncybouncy
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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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Apr. 21st, 2014 @ 08:36 pm PyCon Talks and Two Weeks' Travels
Current Mood: workingworking
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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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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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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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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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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