Log in

Official Statement
At this time, the FBI cannot confirm or deny any rumors regarding the existence of this journal.

L33t Links:
Lists Olin ITA Del.icio.us Flickr ComplexMeme
Current Month
Nov. 29th, 2015 @ 11:02 pm New Home Thanksgiving
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
I really enjoyed spending the long weekend with Julie. We had Thanksgiving dinner with my Boston family, worked on more of the long tail of new-house chores, saw a movie (the second part of Mockingjay, which was pretty good), ate a fancy dinner at Clio Restaurant (which is closing at the end of the month).

We also went to some parenting classes and a tour at Brigham and Women's. The imminence of parenthood is becoming manifest.

Work is busy for both of us. Julie is wrapping up a paper in the coming weeks, I'm organizing training sessions (and teaching a session) for my project at work.

Ingress is celebrating it's third year. As a result, I wanted to reach level 13 before Tuesday, which for me required capturing about 130 portals I hadn't captured before. So I was running around downtown after dark in the cold today, while Julie toiled in lab. (I did it, though. Victory!)
Entry Links
Silly Dance
Nov. 19th, 2015 @ 05:08 pm Elevation and Procreation
Current Mood: tiredtired
Unpacking progresses: Books are unpacked, paintings are underway, kitchen stuff needs more work. There are a few more items that need to be acquired, plus actually having food in the fridge and so on. The internet has been activated. And I already had my first call to the plumber. :-/ Perhaps the seller installed some new fixtures, poorly.

The new place has been named The Nest. Perhaps an obvious name.

Tuesday evening, Tim invited me to a concert at The Sinclair (Doe Paoro and Givers). Both acts were impressive, as was the venue and the food. The woman next to us at dinner was buying shots of Fireball for the bar. It turned out she worked for the company. Sounded like an interesting job, they've sure made that into a very successful brand.

I need to get my sleep schedule back on track. I've been sleeping well in the new place, but it's a bit louder in the mornings, given its proximity to the train.
Entry Links
Nov. 15th, 2015 @ 12:50 am Nesting
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Tags: ,
I was going to write about how hosed I was with moving prep, but I was too hosed to post.

Strangely, the new place seems a lot bigger now that our stuff is moved in. There's still a lot to unpack, but the essentials are done (e.g. I can make a cup of tea and I have somewhere to sleep).

Cable setup didn't just work, so internet access will be just cell phone until RCN can send someone to troubleshoot in a few days.
Entry Links
Nov. 3rd, 2015 @ 10:26 pm A Few Final Trips
Current Mood: busybusy
Tags: , , ,
Three weekends ago, took a trip to visit Julie's folks. And for Julie to attend a baby shower hosted by some family friends.

Two weekends ago, took a last-minute trip to IKEA. Oh, IKEA. Enter the store so full of hope, reach the end willing to hand over any amount of cash just to make the pain end. Still, we got what we needed.

Last weekend, went to Cleveland to visit my folks and siblings and siblings and friends. Got to catch up with Markos and Michelle, Zak (who I hadn't seen in a long time, I hadn't realized he'd returned to Cleveland after his sojourn in Russia), and Dan and Anne (and baby Isaac).

That trip was the first time I'd flown to Cleveland in a long while. Went on Spirit Air, which is flying direct from Boston to Cleveland now. Very cheap price (less so if you have bags), aggressively no-frills, redesigned seats that pack passengers in tight. Was pretty good for a very short trip.

Next weekend is final prep for move, moving weekend after that.
Entry Links
Oct. 14th, 2015 @ 03:27 pm Winning in Boston
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Very tired lately.

Olin Career Fair last week was great. I enjoyed the panel discussion. Career Fair is very lively, my voice was really tired by the end of the day.

There was an Ingress event in Boston last Saturday, a lightning-round version of the global game of keep-away that was part of the last round of events. Each team fought over 36 in-game objects, jumping them from landmark to landmark to one of their team's goals. The field was set at 20 minutes past noon, with jumps every 15 minutes from 1PM to 5. My team (the green Enlightened) fought our way to victory, 18-15. Was a good game, strategy was dynamic and interesting, and both teams brought a good crowd of players and high-level gameplay.

My mom was in town last weekend, so we got in some lunches at Google and dinner with extended family. On Sunday, we wandered into Honk! and the annual Octoberfest in Harvard Square. Very nice to have an opportunity to catch up.

Next weekend, Julie and I will be visiting her family in Lubbock.
Entry Links
Oct. 3rd, 2015 @ 02:55 pm Paperwork Finish Line
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Housing acquired! Picking up keys tomorrow, move scheduled for mid-November.

It took an extra week due to circumstances beyond our control (some finicky details about an international deed transfer not done correctly the first time by the seller). But now it's done for real.

Stress is still wearing on me. Still, there are quite a few things I'm really looking forward to: Spending time with cousins this weekend, my mom is visiting town next weekend, there's an Ingress event in Boston next Saturday, and the weekends after that include some last-minute trips home.

I led a tech talk on interviewing at Google at Olin last week, and I'll be at Olin again for the career fair and a tech interviews panel discussion this week. I really enjoy helping out with that aspect of recruiting!

I saw The Martian on a work movie outing on Friday. The book is great, and the movie is a great adaptation. For the most part, it sticks closely to the book's plot with some judicious trimming for time. Though it does manage to make the book's over-the-top ending even more implausible, and there are a few moments where the cuts cause some of the funny bits to make less sense, or where the movie goes a little bit too far with putting viewer-friendly interfaces on everything. If you at all think you might like a story about an astronaut trying to survive being stranded on Mars, I recommend you see the movie and watch the book, in either order.
Entry Links
Sep. 20th, 2015 @ 11:10 pm Onsite Offsite
Current Mood: awakeawake
Tags: , , , ,
This week at work: All Flights Summit, a team event for everyone on the broader Flights team. Unfortunately, this lacked one key element of an offsite for those of us in Cambridge, but it was cool to see more of our Mountain View and Zurich colleagues in person, and maybe we'll get a farther-away offsite next time. Still had a lot of interesting talks and fun team social events.

This Saturday evening, went to BAHFest, a science comedy event organized by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic artist Zachary Weinersmith. Contestants compete to put forward the best (and funniest) ad hoc evolutionary bio theories, supporting their hypotheses with a quantity of SCIENCE and quality presentations. The winner receives a trophy of a skeptical-looking Darwin saying "I guess so?", among other prizes. The winning hypothesis this time was that brain development in humans originated as a way to mitigate the negative effects of alcohol, setting off a virtuous cycle as more intelligence made it possible to obtain more alcohol. Others included the theory that the evolutionary benefit of prominent nipples is to act as eye-spots that intimidate predators, that fish whose larvae grow up far from the parents improve their fitness via this adaptation mainly because fish are terrifying (and cannibalistic!) parents, and that sleepwalking evolved as way of providing prehistoric endurance hunters (and stressed-out modern humans) with some additional nocturnal exercise.

Also managed to get in a brunch under the grapevines at Neighborhood before things get cold and their patio is closed for the winter.

Paperwork marathon continues. If all goes well (and we're really getting to the point where all had better go well), I will officially have a new place to live come Friday. Have started in on the earliest stages of pre-moving chores.
Entry Links
Mad Scientist
Sep. 12th, 2015 @ 10:42 pm We Wuz Robbed
Current Mood: stressedstressed
Tags: , ,
Except more literally. And by robbed, I mean burglarized.

The burglary was so subtle that our initial reaction (on the Friday before Labor Day) wasn't "OMG we've been burglarized" but "what the heck is going on?" It wasn't until later that we tracked down all the misplaced possessions (some on Monday, some not until Wednesday). A few items that had been on a table in the dining room (adjacent to a window) were relocated to the back yard (below the other side of the window). The window screen was open. A few other items were gone. Unfortunately, the missing items had more sentimental than monetary value (though they were probably also the most valuable items to a thief). In particular, my engagement ring was a precious memento which I am quite unhappy to have taken from my possession. Since I was keeping it boxed up in any case, I deeply regret not relocating it to somewhere more secure.

The theft was reported to the police, who did more than expected to assure me that they'll turn over some rocks, round up the usual suspects, adjust their patrols, etc. (Though I expect any chance of actually recovering my lost property is next to nil, at least this eliminates the possibility of "the police recover it from some thief's stash but have no idea who it belongs to".) Plus we've done what we can to tighten security on the house. It was secured as well as the neighbors (or any other house I've lived in), plus someone's home most of the time. But in this weather, there must be a lot of soft targets... I'm glad at least that the thief didn't decide to wreck the place (the feeling of "could have been worse" reminded me of this).

Surprisingly, that's still not the main thing that's been stressing me out the past week. Paperworking continues. If all goes well, will have new house in two weeks, followed by the pain of actually relocating. (To somewhere with no first-floor windows.)

Today, went to Boston Festival of Indie Games. Fun, but I wish I'd gotten up earlier in the morning. It's a Saturday event, and that provides not nearly enough time. Enjoyed playing the mech battle card-game Outchasers and the tile-building board game Space Station Disaster in the board game expo. Highlights of the video game expo included 2D Othello-esque shooter Inversus, DDR-meets-Collapse puzzle game Fat Beets, and E&M platformer The Electric Shocktopus.
Entry Links
Sep. 2nd, 2015 @ 12:07 am Portland, Maineia
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Last week went by in a blur of work and/or housing stress. But did get a bit of a mini-vacation last weekend, taking the Downeaster to Portland to visit David and Kelcy (friends since my college days who we hadn't seen for a while, not since DJ and Michelle's wedding, I think). Was great to see them again, they showed us around town, and we had a very nice, low-key vacation.

Portland has some very good food and some very pretty scenery. Had some lobster roll and fancy soda, rode on the narrow-gauge rail, visited the museum at the Portland Head Light, took a boat ride around Casco Bay. A good slice of tourism.

This week is back to the grind, though. Things are coming along nicely, but I have a lot to get done and need to get more sleep.
Entry Links
Aug. 23rd, 2015 @ 11:07 pm Paperworking Continues
Current Mood: calmcalm
Tags: , ,
Housing acquisition process is less of a to-do this week than last, but there's still a lot to do.

I did get some quiet time this weekend. Made pasta a la farmers market, finished reading The Magicians (pretty good twist on the magical YA genre, though the protagonist is thoroughly unlikable), and played The Last of Us: Left Behind (really good story and gameplay, for those that enjoyed The Last of Us this is more of what made that good, well worth the price of the DLC). I do like games where I can get something complete in the course of an afternoon.

I also started on Shadownrun: Hong Kong, which seems to live up to its predecessors so far (like the previous Shadowrun Returns games, it's a standalone story, not a sequel per se).
Entry Links
Aug. 16th, 2015 @ 10:31 pm Home Acquisition in Progress
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Tags: , , , , , ,
Made it through the "matchmaking on a place and a price" stage of condo buying. Now into the first of two "ungodly amounts of paperwork" stages. (Followed by handing over a giant chunk of my life savings, actual moving, and parenthood. Can't complain that my life lacks excitement.)

Also enjoyed a team-building day trip with my work colleagues (lunch on the beach in Provincetown) this week. Which along with home-buying chaos meant that the week was a bit short on work. Fortunately can expect that will be somewhat better in the coming week.

For all the stress, it's nice to get back to some simple pleasures that I've been overlooking for a long time. For me lately, that's watching anime (currently in the middle of the second season of Darker Than Black) and eating at Punjabi Dhaba (an Inman Square treasure for sure).
Entry Links
Aug. 4th, 2015 @ 12:02 am Con-do
Current Mood: awakeawake
Drove out to Windsor Locks, CT for 9Pi-Con this weekend. Was really excited to be able to attend that again. Last year, they were on hiatus, the year before I had a schedule conflict. As always, it was a really relaxing and fun convention, good panel discussions, readings, parties, and games. Unfortunately, this one is to be the last in the series.

Last week, started a housing search. That continues this week. Hopefully won't be too long, it's really disruptive. We're working with a real estate agent, thinking of buying something of our own this time.

On an unrelated note, caught two movies in the past few weeks: Mr. Holmes was very good, Ian McKellen's performance as an aging Sherlock Holmes is brilliant. And Inside Out was great, well worth seeing in theaters. The advertising for that film looked pretty dumb, so I was surprised when it got such rave reviews, but it turns out that in addition to the visual humor and charming animation, it's a moving story with a huge amount of depth. It's a surprisingly high-theory movie for a family-friendly animated film. (One of the anthropromorphized emotions passes time reading from a shelf of mental how-to manuals, I wouldn't be surprised if that was an inside joke referring to some a shelf full of psychology textbooks sitting somewhere in the animators' office.)
Entry Links
Jul. 21st, 2015 @ 01:30 pm Vacation Reading
Current Mood: awakeawake
Wanted to write a bit about what I read at Sandy and during all that plane travel:

Seveneves: My Neil Stephenson tome for the summer. It took me until halfway through the book before I realized how the title is supposed to be pronounced. It's not Stephenson's best, but I thought it was a good book, especially if you like your science fiction with a lot of orbital dynamics.

Theories of Translation: A set of essays on translating literature. I read the companion volume, The Craft of Translation, some summers ago. The themes are pretty interesting, but a lot of the essays cover the same themes (e.g. the great debate between literal translation that makes manifest the foreignness of the original text and artfully paraphrased translation that's the sort of thing the author would have written, had they written in the target language in the first place). A few of the essays are extremely entertaining, though, in particular José Ortega y Gasset's "The Misery and the Splendor of Translation" and Nabakov's "Problems of Translation: Onegin in English" (Nabokov has some very interesting and well-argued ideas about how he intends to write his translation of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, and his commentary on earlier translations is quite funny, though presumably not for the earlier translators).

Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Only made it through the first half, but was interesting enough that I plan to read the rest. Piketty does a little bit too much discussing literary or pop-culture examples of the trends he's analyzing for my taste, but overall it's mostly well-grounded and interesting historical discussion of the macro political and economic trends that are likely to define significant differences between the 20th century and the 21st, as the "demographic shift" (the effect of slowing population growth) continues to take its course. If you already have a strong opinion about whether it's the sort of book you'd find interesting, you're probably right. (Bill Gates's review of the book is also worth a read.)

Halting State: The first book in "a trilogy of near-future Scottish police procedurals about crimes that don't exist yet, written in multi-viewpoint second person". Really enjoyable pulp sci-fi. Unfortunately this trilogy stopped at two books because all the speculative elements have turned surprisingly realistic since the series was started in 2006.

Apex: More pulpy sci-fi. If you liked the first two books in the series, definitely worth a read. If you have no idea what I'm talking about and you'd like a sci-fi thriller by an author who's big into transhumanism, start with the first book.
Entry Links
Jul. 21st, 2015 @ 01:19 pm Vacation Double Feature
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Vacation accomplished!

At Sandy Island Camp, I spent most of the time relaxing and reading and catching up with my parents (neither of my siblings made it this time). I didn't get out on the lake at all. It was beautiful, though, and I enjoyed reading on the beach.

Late in the week, I came down with the worst cold, like an Everlasting Gobstopper of disease, a different flavor every day! (Including some of the worst congestion I've ever had, plus bizarre symptoms like persistent hiccups.) And then Julie also caught it just in time for international travel. Got through it somehow, with a lot of cough drops and mint tea.

(My mom thinks I'm sick all the time now... it's just that when I'm under the weather I tend to take the time to write something in my blog.)

Despite being under the weather, the London trip was certainly fun. Julie's folks put us up in a really nice hotel, and it was good to spend time with family and friends. I enjoyed seeing the niece again, she's going through a shy phase but seems as cheerful as ever. (Hopefully we avoided this cold jumping to her or anyone else.) All the adults in the family seem to be spectacularly busy with work, though in a good way. We got in some London tourism that I had little time for on my first conference trip (Tower of London tour, viewed the city from the London Eye, climbed the Monument to the Great Fire, went on a pub crawl, window shopping at Harrods). We even got the chance to catch up with Xave and Sarah on their London sabbatical (in the moments before they headed off for a holiday in France).
Entry Links
Jul. 3rd, 2015 @ 11:49 pm Family Vacation x2 Combo
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Going away for two weeks, starting tomorrow.

The first week I will be at Sandy with my folks and totally offline.

The second week I will be in London.
Entry Links
Jun. 28th, 2015 @ 01:37 am SCOTUS Care
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Big news from the Supreme Court this week.

I guess a Scalia/Thomas/Alito dissent is as close to unanimous as you can get on any Supreme Court decision on legislation that's controversial along liberal/conservative lines.

Scalia is big on the Fourteenth Amendment working how those voting on it would have intended, but not so much for the Affordable Care Act.

Scalia's dissent in Obergefell, is pretty entertaining and completely histrionic. He he decries the decision as a "judicial Putsch" by a bunch of east- and west-coast lawyers, and all but exhorts the states to disregard the ruling. (Alito writes something similar, but more calmly. Roberts just wishes the Supreme Court was more conservative. Thomas doesn't think the Fourteenth Amendment protects a class of citizens from being excluded from receiving government benefits at all, only from being restrained or imprisoned.)
Entry Links
Jun. 21st, 2015 @ 07:24 pm This Week's Recipe: Golden Egg Curry
Current Mood: happyhappy
Tags: , ,
I've been meaning to get around to cooking more elaborate things from our large collection of cookbooks, and I finally found some time for that this week.

Golden Egg Curry

This week's recipe was Golden Egg Curry, from Naomi Duguid's Burma: Rivers of Flavor.

Choices and substitutions: I used sesame oil (peanut oil was also an option). I used store-bought chili powder rather than go to the trouble of grinding my own, as the book suggests. I substituted about twice as many serrano chilis for the green cayenne chilis, due to availability.

How it turned out: Awesome! This recipe is pretty easy, and it's as beautiful as the book makes it seem. (The hardest part is seeding and slicing the hot peppers, and that's not too much trouble.) It's a great contrast of colors, textures, and flavors. The boiled-then-fried eggs are a winner.

Other notes: A little fish sauce makes this not strictly vegetarian. But it's a tiny amount, you could probably sub in soy sauce without much change in the overall character of the dish.
Entry Links
Jun. 15th, 2015 @ 11:40 pm More Likely Than You Think
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Tags: ,
Sonograph Photograph

From the photobooth last week.

So yeah, that has me preoccupied (Julie, too, obviously). And if I think I'm tired now...

I am trying hard not to do any chicken-counting (life is full of uncertainty), but if all goes well, 2016 will be an even more eventful year for me than 2015. I'm about as excited as I can expect to be about things that will change my life in large ways that I cannot control.
Entry Links
May. 26th, 2015 @ 11:33 pm Summer is Stirring
Current Mood: awakeawake
Current Music: Sam Sparro - Black & Gold
I spent much of the weekend playing World of Geographycraft. Sunday, took a completely impractical trip to Mt. Greylock with Julie and Tim. The mountain is notable for being the highest natural point in Massachusetts and one of the landmarks on the Appalachian Trail, it would be an enjoyable place to hike if I'm ever there earlier in the day. On Monday, I was off work for Memorial Day, and spent many hours randomly wandering around Arlington.

There are lots of things I want to do more of. I want to get to some of the games on my queue, but I probably have a greater desire to do more writing (to get back to posting here more, plus I haven't written for ComplexMeme in months), reading, and cooking. (Not counting work and other important things. Those are going well, but the going well is very time-consuming.)

It's starting to get hot. A mockingbird has once again moved in near to my house, with the usual combination of talented repertoire and being obnoxiously loud at all hours of the night.

I got a (very short) haircut today. That avoids the scruffy uneven look and should be nice for summer, but I'm well into the hair-loss territory where I'll need to remember a hat or risk terrible scalp sunburn.
Entry Links
May. 17th, 2015 @ 12:28 am Level Up!
Current Mood: happyhappy
Tags: , , , , ,
Another busy week at work!

Now that it's public within the company, I can say: I got that promotion! There were celebrations this week, a cake with my name on it and everything. Relieved that my hard work paid off, and that I don't have to contend with that process again for at least a few years.

I also made it to the top-eight in the office's M:tG block limited tournament. I'm really enjoying the new set and the twist it puts in the block format (a good way to transition to the new two-set blocks).

This weekend has been relaxing so far. Caught a bit of Porchfest (a Somerville-wide outdoor music festival) and did a bit of spring cleaning.
Entry Links