Friday, May 31, 2002

<A HREF="">Ultimate dining?</A>

Hey! It's only a 10 1/2 hour drive from my house to the French Laundry Restaurant, in Yountville, California! Then I can pay $120 per person to savor the Chef's Tasting Menu, which seems to be the choice Jason Kottke and his mate made. All I need to do is anticipate the next time I'm going to be near Sacramento or San Francisco and call in a reservation -- two months in advance. The food had better be good.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Ready To Operate

I think I mentioned this, but my friend at work, Burr, is a rather fastidious and methodical person, and wears latex gloves to change the oil in his truck. No oil stains on his hands, that way. And now, he's let me have two pairs, freeing me from having to buy a box full just for the ones I need. Now Tom and I can do our frontlight kits without getting finger oils on the light guides. Cool deal.

Biology Lesson

It's only that I'm too lazy to really go to town in Photoshop, or I'd have labelled all the major features of the eukaryotic cell illustrated in the birthday cake which Kelly and Jean made to celebrate Jean and my birthday. As it is, you'll just have to enjoy the pictures, starting with the banner, which links to the gallery of two picture.


The other present I got was from Jean. It was the Photoshop 6 Wow! Book. As you recall, I rated one other book I'd looked at higher, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the wish list .

So as planned, I'll work my way through the book at a snail's pace, and probably complete it in about a year. That's why I wanted to look at them from the library first. Why pay $50 for a book that you wanna use for a year, only to discover it's unworkable? So the Wow! book has a ginchy layout, but I think I can work around it to save $50 buying another...

Afterburner Frontlight

W00t! Ma new frontlight is here! As Jean and I celebrate our birthdays together on her birthdate, this constitutes one of two presents I got yesterday. I opened the box, checking that it wasn't just full of bubble wrap, but I don't want to get fingerprints all over everything. I'll hang on to it in it's packaging until I can get around to either borrowing Tom's Dremel tool, or arranging to go over to his place to have a 'kit fest'.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

MUDs, MMORPGs and Me

Kottke discussed a presentation at ETech which introduced the notion that there are four broad personality types associated with on-line gaming, especially MMORPGs. In turn, this talk was apparently based on Players Who Suit MUDs (pun intended, I'm sure) by Richard A. Bartle:

So, labelling the four player types abstracted, we get: achievers, explorers, socialisers and killers. An easy way to remember these is to consider suits in a conventional pack of cards: achievers are Diamonds (they're always seeking treasure); explorers are Spades (they dig around for information); socialisers are Hearts (they empathise with other players); killers are Clubs (they hit people with them).

Now my lifestyle just doesn't lend itself to playing MMORPGs. Everquest and the like derive their main benefit from the ability of players to link up with each other online and engage in cooperative quests. Sort of like AD&D online. But years ago I played AD&D, and nowadays I play console RPGs, and I have to categorize myself as a Spade. Make of that what you will.

Seriously, the thing I value most about Final Fantasy X is not the battles, but the expanding world, and the storyline that is revealed by moving through it. Even Resident Evil's main attraction to me is the movement through the mansion, finding bits and pieces of the puzzles, not the endless shotgun blasts at zombie after zombie. Of course, RE and it's ilk are cool just for the fusion of game genres (now old hat) that results in the label 'survival horror'.

P.S. - Still talking about good old PSOne Resident Evil here. I haven't sprung for the Gamecube yet. But if I do, it'll be 90% for this remake, and 10% for Pikmin.

Monday, May 27, 2002

Attack of the Memorial Day

Jean took Kelly to the mall this morning, for some mother-daughter fun. This includes shopping for summer clothes and looking at toys. I decided it would be intrusive of me to come along, so instead I went to the theatre and watched Attack of the Clones. [WARNING: Smart-alecky spoilers ahoy!]

Generally, I'd say that it rates very highly for the complexity of the effects and of the back story. The sometimes subtle indicators of plots and counterplots was actually pretty fun. Am I the only one, or does it seem obvious that Darth Sidious didn't seriously believe that Django Fett would succeed in killing Senator Amidala? I think he just cranked the peril up a notch to throw Padme and Anakin together, knowing that it would put a monkey wrench in Anakin's already twisted Jedi training.

The movie was worth seeing for lots of reasons, but I'd have to continue in my belief that any of the first three movies outranks these latest two. There's less spontaneity, less of a sense of genuine fun, than in any of the first three (and yes, I include Empire Strikes Back in that list).

Still, I've always been pretty good at taking each movie in the series on its own merits, and had no problem finding enjoyment in The Phantom Menace despite Jar-Jar Binks. Attack of the Clones is no exception. This movie is major eye candy, more than you can shake a cornea at. I'd love to see this at one of the digital theatres, but no way am I gonna drive to Seattle to see it at the Cinerama. All in all, I found many things enjoyable, even when they might have had a potential for bringing the movie down:

  • That whole Batman and Robin thing going on between Obi-wan and Anakin early in the movie (at least the Robin who hit puberty and started giving Batman major headaches, finally leaving to become Nightwing) ... Obin-wan: "I feel it too!" (dashes into the bedroom with light sabre drawn). He might as well have shouted "to the Batcave!"

  • The night life of downtown Coruscant.

  • Anakin's whole stalker love story, especially the fact that it was limited to brief segments of the movie, scattered here and there. They could have compressed this even more and it wouldn't have been any more confusing when Padme actually fell for him!

  • Giant dairy ticks!

  • 90% Jar-Jar free.

  • A missed moment: I really wanted Christopher Lee to direct the insectoid Geonosis aliens to attack the Jedi by shouting "fly, monkeys, fly!"

  • Christopher Lee on a Vespa space scooter is proof of the Dark Side.

  • Houdini Amidala. Not a speck of cereal!

  • Superball Yoda. Now with more Super Happy Funball action!

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Repetitive Evil

I've played Resident Evil so much over this holiday weekend that I'm almost burning out on it. Based on walkthroughs I've seen before, I suspect that I'm nearly two-thirds done. But as the old programmer's saw goes, "I've finished eighty percent of the project, and I've only got another eighty percent to go." That is to say, the game gets tougher from here on out, so I'll have to do a lot of repeat-from-last-save activity.

It's made worse by the fact that I've been spoiled by Final Fantasy X, and gotten used to saving a lot (even if they make me mad by putting me into untenable situations where I can't save when I need to). In FFX you can save as often as you like at any 'save point'. But in RE, you not only need to be in a 'save room', you can only save if you have a 'typewriter ribbon', and I'm down to my last one. I've gotta find another 'spool' of saves somewhere in the mansion, all the while struggling to stay alive until I've got that save option.

So this may turn out to be another FFX fiasco, where I enjoy playing, but get stuck at a spot where I need more saves than the game thinks I need. That'd be too bad, as I'm really having fun.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002


Yahoo! I just got my notice from UPS that the Afterburner frontlight for my Gameboy Advance is on it's way, and should arrive by the 29th. I was reading the email, and announced to the house in general that it was coming. From the bedroom I heard Jean reply "I don't know what it is, I didn't know you ordered it, but I'm sure you'll enjoy it."

I replied "that's okay. There are parts of my life that I realize are of no earthly concern to you."

"Let's just say that there are parts of your life which remain mysterious."

And of course, I had to run back and explain to her what the Afterburner was. I could see that it was still a bit of a mystery to her, but soldiered on anyway. "But the neatest thing is, it's a kit. I'll have to take the GBA apart and install the frontlight, solder the wires to the power buss, the works. And Tom ordered one too, so we're probably going to install them together..." Jean was starting to laugh. "What?!?"

"You're like the nerd boys I used to teach: Mrs. Wakefield, Tom and I both got frontlights, and we're gonna take 'em to Webelos, and put 'em together, and we're gonna try to reach China!" By this time we were both cracking up pretty bad.

Then Kelly called out from the tub (bath time, don't ya know) and wanted to know what was so funny. Jean tried to explain it to her, concluding with "sometimes, when the nerd boys get excited, they just talk and talk and spit." Hey!

"Anyway, when I taught in Ohio, I used to have these boys who would always come up and show me their projects, and they talked about things I never understood, but they knew that I cared. And I loved them for it." In the words of some sports figure or another, nice save!

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Master of the Sleeping Shuttle Service

Yes! Jean is okay with me going to Master of the Flying Guillotine on Friday, the 12th of July, so long as I can handle the fact that I need to drive her and Kelly to the airport in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday. I think I'll be 'sleep-driving' at 4am, then going back to bed immediately I return home. But for such a rare spectacle as 'Master', I gotta do the sacrifice. Now let's hope they don't cancel or reschedule...

Recovery Diet

I knew I was getting over my cold this weekend when I developed a craving for fresh salad fixings. I went nuts at the grocery store, and I was rewarded with an intense sensation of pleasure eating my made-from-scratch salad (both Saturday and Sunday). Try this yourself:

  • spinach

  • sliced zucchini

  • miniature sweet peas

  • diced yellow bell pepper

  • one medium organic tomato, de-seeded and sliced

  • bean sprouts

  • alfalfa sprouts

  • shredded colby jack cheese

  • kalamata olives, brine cured

  • fresh croutons made by toasting, then dicing homemade whole wheat bread

  • bleu cheese dressing

I'm thinking the average heroin addict is sorely misled. This stuff is pure heaven. Gonna do it again next weekend!

Gamecube Ahoy!

Oh dear. Just took a lunchtime walk to Fry's, and the Gamecube is $149. Dunno what I'll do yet, but expect to read about it someday here.

Internet Radio

I've occasionally been listening to Japan-a-Radio of evenings, and it's made me aware of another usurious scam of the recording industry, whereby they planned to charge licensing fees in excess of 100-1000 times that of broadcast radio, basically putting Internet radio stations out of business. Now it looks as if that scheme may fall, as the Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights have rejected CARP as written. They have 30 days to announce an alternate solution. Let's hope it's more reasonable.

Kurzweil On Wolfram

For my own future reference, Ray Kurzweil records his impressions on Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science, which has been on my Amazon Wishlist since I heard about it several months before publication.

Depth of Field Preview

Alan wondered why the Nikon N80 has a 'depth of field preview' button. It's an SLR, right? You're seeing what the lens is seeing, right? So what do you get with a 'preview' button that you don't get otherwise? So I looked it up. From the Nikon N80/F80 Magic Lantern Guide:

The depth-of-field preview button is located on the front of the camera body under the focus-assist lamp. It can be pressed easily with the middle finger of the right hand. When you do so, the diaphragm mechanism of the lens stops down to the actual aperture you have selected. Instead of viewing the scene at the widest lens aperture, you can do so at f/8, f/11, or f/16, and so on. This enables you to visually assess the actual zone of apparent sharpness that will appear in a photograph.

So when framing a picture through the viewfinder, the lens is actually at its widest aperture, despite your chosen setting. DOF Preview lets you see what you'll be getting when the camera actually exposes the film.

Site Churn

I'm backing things up at home (automated), but I thought I'd post a quick note about the site. I changed my password last night, but not in a secure way, as SSH was suddenly (mysteriously) not working. This morning it is (just as mysteriously) working again. So I'll probably change the password a couple of more times to make myself feel better, even if it's an illusory comfort.

Fortunately, nothing is secret here, since this is a weblog. I'm mostly concerned about someone putting words in my mouth.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Master of the Flying Guillotine

Am I going to be in town on July 12th? Can I finagle some time out of the house that evening? I sure hope so for both questions. It turns out that Pathfinder Pictures will be distributing Master of the Flying Guillotine to the Clinton Street Theatre that evening, the only showing in the Portland Metro area. This is a classic chop-sockey film, totally over the top, and I sure would like to see it, especially as Tom has said he'd go along if I could make it. Cross your fingers!

Site Hack

I can't vouch for the material found on the site (and I'm not going to do the work needed to be sure), as it appears someone has hacked into the account, at least the CGI side of things. How do I know? This morning the icon giving credit to Greymatter as the software driving this site, had been replaced for an icon for Yahoo! Finance. I surely didn't do it, so somebody else did.

This was an obvious change, but there may be more subtle ones. If you find weird items which even I wouldn't write, or odd pictures that don't seem to have anything to do with me, consider that. I'll be changing my account password and my CGI password tonight, but a competent hacker who really wants to mess with me will already have backdoors built in...

Star Wars Chatter

I went to NOVA Saturday, feeling better than I had most of the week, but still tentative. I enjoyed that meeting, the chatting (see Gamecube entry below) and the discussion of the upcoming NOVA auction, anchored by my autographed poster. As the evening wound down, I told folks that I could probably handle going to a 10:15 showing of AOTC, if we went to the Sherwood theatre, allowing me to get home just ten minutes after the show ended. But, I warned, that's the red-line limit. If the show is sold out, I will be going home, not waiting for the next later show.

Tom insisted that tickets would be easy, and we wandered down to Sherwood. The show was sold out. I went home. I think I'll catch it this Friday, as part of a long holiday weekend, since Monday is Memorial Day. In the meantime, here's an interesting review written by David McCusker.

Conflicts, Conflicts

Oh dear. Gotta find $200! Nintendo just announced that Tuesday they'd be dropping the price of the Gamecube to $149 in response to the drop to $199 of both the Xbox and the PS2. When Sony dropped the price on the PS2 (which I already own), and Microsoft responded with their cut to Xbox, I told my 'gaming friends' that if Nintendo dropped the Gamecube by as little as $50, it would be a strong incentive to buy, just for two games: Resident Evil (Kelly does not get to play) and Pikmin (Kelly does get to play). Then of course there's the upcoming release of a Gamecube Zelda game...

So here we are, and I have the money. The only problem is that I also want to buy a portrait lens for my SLR, which costs about the same. Oh pooh, being a responsible adult, and picking and choosing, is not fun.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Backwater Portland

I checked, and none of the theatres near me is going to show AOTC via digital projection, George Lucas' preferred presentation format. And, no, Seattle is not 'nearby'. Heck, downtown Portland is not 'nearby' anymore, now that I'm a parent.

Just for chuckles, on the way in to work, I swung by the Wilsonville theatres, and at 8am, there was no line. No diehards waiting for the 10am show. Mind you, the first show was last night, at 12:01am. Gosh, I coulda gone, since I was awake in my bedroom coughing my lungs out. Don't think the other fans woulda minded...

Attack of the Cold

This here's a long-lasting cold. Last night, while not exactly feeling peppy, I thought I'd been over the worst of it. But sleepy time was filled with coughing and wheezy breathing...

At this rate, I may not be able to go with the crowd to AOTC on Saturday night. NOVA yes, Star Wars? ...

I think to be on the safe side, I'll try to see it Friday afternoon. I have no qualms about seeing it twice.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002


Two choice quotes today from Hack the Planet 2.0. They are actually from Wes Felter's notes of a talk given by Cory Doctorow at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference...

Consume But Don't Try Programming Anything (CBDTPA)

The role of technology is to provide opportunities for the entertainment industry, and the role of the entertainment industry is to seek injunctive relief from those opportunities.

Demographically Challenged

Imagine my surprise when I read of two of my favorite television shows:

WB is keeping its racier programs aimed more specifically to young women � including "Charmed," "Angel,"...

Jordan Levine

And what's with that 'racy' comment? Both shows are downright tame in the 'racy' department...

Monday, May 13, 2002

Cantonese Film

I finished watching Shanghai 1920, and as this review notes, it is a mediocre film. The ending made me want to kick the screenwriters' butts. Pretty lame symbolism.

This week's Cantonese film is Her Majesty Is Fine (according to the program listing), or Good Luck, Empress Dowager! according to the subtitling. I've been unable to find any references to this film via Google or the Hong Kong Movie Database. The director is Tao Jin (Mandarin), or Tiu Gam (Cantonese). There is a list of movies for him, but not this one. So far it looks like an awkward period dramedy. I'll follow up when I've watched more...

Next week's entry, I Wanna Be Your Man sounds promising, but a quick check of the reviews makes it sound disappointing. I'm gonna guess that if it can show up on the International Channel, it's because the lease fee is cheap...

Nero Wolfe Is Back

I knew it was coming back, but missed the return. Hopefully they'll rerun the episodes I've missed, as this is one of my favorite shows, doing a creditable adaptation of the novels by Rex Stout. Maury Chaykin is excellent as Nero Wolfe, and Timothy Hutton is fine as Archie Goodwin.

My friend Burr was just saying today that this show had a single flaw, which was that they often tried to compress a story into a single episode, when in many cases two were required. So I was quite amused to see that the episode I watched tonight was part one of a two part story. Unfortunately, The Mother Hunt had one strike against it from the beginning: it was directed by Alan Smithee...

Smithee, after all, never existed. As all true film buffs now know, Alan Smithee (aka Allen Smithee and Allan Smithee) is a pseudonym for any director who disowned his or her movie, usually for reasons of artistic control. Instead of taking credit, the director would petition the Directors Guild of America for an Alan Smithee credit in exchange for a pledge not to disparage the film publicly.

John Levesque

Still, with a few flaws, this episode held out all the formulaic charm of the previous entries I've seen, and I intend to catch the second part once it airs. And I won't miss any more episodes, either!

Not the Only Elephant in the Herd

I walked down to the water cooler and heard no less than three people blowing their noses in just that way which I've been doing. I think I'm the biggest one, so I get to be the bull elephant!

Not Allergies

Not allergies, just a very good imitation in the early stages. Some kind of virus has invaded my body. It feels a little like a cold, but different. I'll do work for the morning, we'll see about the afternoon.

Sunday, May 12, 2002


Today really sucks. I've got allergies so bad that I really can't breath through my nose. I flushed my sinuses with saline solution, replaced the furnace filter and ran it all day. Not much help. I hope at least that it clears up enough that I can get a decent night's sleep. Wish me luck.

Book Report

Well, I've finished both Rare Earth & Life Everywhere. Took 'em both back to the library today. At the same time I picked up Mac OS X: The Missing Manual by David Pogue.

All the machines at home run Mac OS 8 or 9, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. One of the OS X sites I read keeps asking questions like "what application keeps you using Classic?" (where Classic refers to OS 9). I actually wrote back and replied that the 'application' which keeps me using OS 9 is OS X. Despite Steven Jobs' assertion that OS 9 is dead (for developers), OS X just ain't there yet. Not enough drivers for printers, scanners and such. Not an easy way to work between OS 9 and OS X boxes (since my 8500 can't run OS X, and it's not officially supported on my iBook). So anyway, the book is basically my way of keeping up with the future.

Getting back to the 'life in the universe' books... Rare Earth promotes the thesis that simple life, up to the level of bacteria, probably is ubiquitous, but complex life, eukaryotes, animals, are so rare that Earth is likely their only home. It is a somewhat long book, replete with citations, arguments and theorizing. Considering that the topic is largely full of unknowns, the book is of course all speculation, but the authors argue in the manner of a debating team in high school, seemingly believing that if they pile enough 'ifs' on top of each other, they will win the debate.

Life Everywhere is more clearly identified as speculation, though the author does seem to believe complex life will be found off Earth eventually. One chapter is even devoted to Rare Earth, taking the authors to task for their assertions in such a speculative field. Overall this is a lighter book, which was alternately more satisfying (since it made no claims to certainty), and more disappointing (since Rare Earth, whatever it's faults, was filled with detail and citations).

Next up in the reading queue besides Missing Manual is Breaking Windows, subtitled 'How Bill Gates Fumbled the Future of Microsoft'. Should be mildly interesting...

Friday, May 10, 2002

Birthday Hijinx

Wednesday was my birthday. I'm 0.045 millenia old! Jean and I have our birthdays exactly three weeks apart, with hers happening on the 29th of May, so we usually celebrate both our birthdays on the 29th. Since I already gave her her present, and had her open it so she could make sure it was okay during the 60 day warranty period, she decided that she wanted me to open a present 'early' too. But Wednesday was hectic, so we put it off to Thursday.

We barely had time for it Thursday either. I took Kelly out on a promised bike ride after work, then helped Jean (if I didn't actually just confuse her) with some of her homework. Then it was Kelly's turn for homework help, though I eventually abandoned her since she kept trying to turn it into 'play with Daddy'. Finally, after Kelly's bath, I opened a present (Jean's holding one in reserve for the 29th). It was Metal Gear Solid 2! I was exhausted last night, so I didn't try it out, but I'll probably give it a spin today. It's sort of funny, since I've barely scratched the surface with Metal Gear Solid on my PSOne.

Most fun for me was reminding Kelly how the parental birthdays work (both celebrated together). "No! You have to have a birthday too!" I said that was just because Kelly wanted two cakes, which she denied. Guess she gets to prove that, as I told Jean I didn't want a cake anyway. But she did get to see me unwrap a present, albeit a day late.

Wednesday, May 8, 2002


Does everybody know this 'bussing' trick but me? I was at Wu's Open Kitchen with Brent and Burr for lunch today, when I looked over and noticed a waiter bussing a table. After he had it cleared, he took the tea pot from the meal and poured some tea onto the table. Then he cleaned up the remaining debris from the meal!

Am I sheltered? I've never seen this before. Cool trick, though.

Musical Tidbit

You read the strangest things on the Google News page. For instance, Queen tops the charts in Britain's all time favorite (favourite?) hits with Bohemian Rhapsody. Considering that Queen was ranked below only Led Zepellin by myself in high school, I'm actually rather pleased. And after years of overexposure, I'd rather listen to Bohemian Rhapsody than Stairway to Heaven .

<A HREF="">To Sleep</A>

Funny how much poetry is out there about getting a good night's sleep. Monday night sucked for sleep, and my productivity was truly stoo-peed! on Tuesday.

Went home a little early, took a nap, no thanks to Kelly! and muddled through the rest of the evening. Went to bed around 10pm, awoke 7am feeling great! Guess I understand that poetry better now.

Monday, May 6, 2002

Obscure Reference of the Day

Don't you just love it when people make an oblique, unlinked reference to something (Quartz Extreme) that not even Google returns a logical match on?


As I suspected, Quartz Extreme is a method of accelerating display graphics for new Mac OS X boxes.


I actually ended up spending a lot of time one-on-one with Kelly Sunday, even factoring in my normal Sunday strength training session, which takes 90 minutes to two hours, depending on how I'm cooking. Jean took Kelly to church in the morning, and I did all my usual chores, but when they came back, I asked Kelly if she wanted to come to the library with me, as her request for the video Air Bud had arrived. My copy of Breaking Windows was in too. She was up for it, so off we went.

Too bad, Daddy. The library doesn't open for another hour! I was too fixated on getting all my errands and chores done early, and we jumped the gun. So I asked Kelly if she wanted to go home and wait, or come with me to Home Depot to pick up a new widget for the basement toilet, since the rod which pulls the plug had snapped recently. She asked the equivalent of "what's in it for me?" by wondering aloud if Home Depot had any toys or "stuff for kids". I said I wasn't sure, but if we found something for a couple of dollars, she could have it.

So off we went to Home Depot. Immediately on our entry to the store, Kelly saw the gardening section and fixated on the seeds. She's had pretty good success lately, with a bean sprout and flower bulb growing on the sill of our kitchen window. So I asked her to wait until I'd completed my mission and promised to come back to the seed section. I found the right hardware for the toilet pretty quickly, then went in search of:

  • a tiny screwdriver

  • a cheap soldering gun and solder

Why? Because I've received notice that 'soon' I should be receiving my kit for a Gameboy Advance front-light. This is a 'hobbyist' kit, in that you put it together yourself, and that requires certain tools. Tom and I are going to put ours together at his place before NOVA some weekend after they arrive, and he has a Dremel tool, so I don't need that. My friend at work, Burr, has latex gloves (which I need to avoid getting finger oils on the light guide), so I don't need those. Turns out that latex gloves are good for changing oil in your car. That Burr, so fastidious! So that left the screwdriver for opening the case, and the soldering iron for attaching the power wires. I found them and we went off to buy some seeds.

Now if you've been following my little journal you know that Kelly never stops at 'yes'. I told her she could buy two dollars worth of seeds. She said, "why not three?" I said she could give me a dollar from her allowance if she went to three. It never stops. So we got our goodies, paid for them (where we had an interesting moment when Kelly asked the cashier if she was a man or a woman) and headed back to the library.

The library trip was uneventful, with Kelly stocking up on additional Pokemon videos for the afternoon at home. I succeeded in installing the widget in the downstairs toilet, thus paying the absolute minimum dues needed to maintain my membership in the Man Club. Time passed, we had lunch, I worked out, and then offered to go for a walk with Kelly before taking a shower. To my surprise, she jumped on it.

Earlier in the day she had found an old 'talking' watch which no longer talked because I'd been lazy about locating a replacement battery. Kelly decided it was a Clockstopper watch. So our agenda on our walk was to play store, where each utility housing for cable or phone becomes a storefront, and one of us the merchant. The twist was that she was going to use the 'Clockstopper' watch to freeze the 'merchant' and play pranks. This usually consisted of leaving the money in cute places, like balanced on my nose, then 'unfreezing' time.

So we took off, me with my straw cowboy hat (bad decision, too windy and cold) and Kelly with her bright red and grey watch. We played Clockstopper Store several times, and then we entered Little Woodrose Park. Boy was Kelly in explorer mode Sunday. We followed the groomed trail about a third of the time. The rest of the time we were diving off the clean wide path and through the brush, following the faintest weaving dirt path through the wood. I had to duck and hunch numerous times to get through places Kelly wanted to go. I got a workout all over again. Finally we headed home, stopping at several 'stores' on the way.

Too bad the day had to end on a bad note. Kelly and I were rough housing and she smacked my hand in such a way that she took a divot out of her finger. I went to the bathroom with her to fix it up, and when she saw it, she got mad at me and pegged me with a beachball. I told her that that was unacceptable, and she was confined to take a bath, brush her teeth and go straight to bed. She spent the rest of the evening engaging in activities designed to flaunt her unrepentant attitude. "Look, I found a bunch of Sailor Moon playing cards in the closet!" "Are you guys going to bed yet?" "I'm just going to play quietly in my room, okay?"

This morning I said goodbye to her, and I'm pretty sure she'd completely forgotten the whole episode. Still, if she pegs me in the head with her beach ball in a clear act of malice, I'm gonna 'ground' her again.

And that concludes the Sunday report!

Sunday, May 5, 2002


Saturday was a NOVA evening, so it was only natural that we'd go see Spider-Man afterwards. It was sold out for earlier shows, but the 10:10 show we attended wasn't. Overall, a very faithful rendering of the Spider-Man Origin story, and a decent rendition of one of his arch-enemies, the Green Goblin. Aside from the story, which was done in a fun way, the kinematics of the 'superhero action shots' were very impressive. Visually this was a fantastic movie. If you sniff at anything that isn't a descendant of Sense and Sensibility (which I liked just fine, thank you), you won't care for this movie. But for us comic book geeks, I think it's a hoot.

Afterwards, a group of us went to Banning's Pie House, since we knew we'd be chatting in the theatre parking lot otherwise. James ordered a banana split, which turned out to be huge, by my standards. I swear he mowed through that thing in ten minutes flat. He's an ice cream eating machine. The waitress, who'd already pleaded lack of sleep, came back to check on us, saw the empty split bowl, and did a silent double-take. Pretty amusing.

At The YMCA!

Saturday I took Kelly to the YMCA for her art class and swim class. The art class isn't really a challenging opportunity to learn kiln-fired pottery, or to explore the intricacies of guache. In fact, it's more of an excuse to get Kelly out of the house doing something beside watch television on the couch. Plus it gets her interacting with other kids, which is usually a good thing. The swim class is for private lessons (sniff, sniff), so she can catch up with other kids her age this summer. Most of them are in 'Fish', but Kelly got a slow start and was in 'Minnow'. Her instructor recommended a few one-on-one tutoring sessions to help her work through her weak spots.

So we showed up and there were a ton of ambulances, fire engines and what not parked in the YMCA traffic circle. Kelly asked what it was about, but I didn't know and we needed to get her to her art class, so we raced on past. After her art class, Jean (who did the grocery shopping while Kelly and I were away) instructed me to make sure that Kelly had some food in her stomach before swimming class rolled around. Kelly wanted a 'picnic', so we went outside and sat on the grass. By this time, there was a 'safety house' trailer parked at the side of the parking lot, and it was clear that this was a community safety event. There were firemen, police and rescue workers all over the place.

One fireman was wearing a headset with a microphone, and holding a radio-control rig. He was driving a three foot tall red plastic fire hydrant. The top of the hydrant would raise up, revealing rolling eyes, and the base was the radio-control wheel set. He'd drive it around, and his voice would come out of a speaker on the hydrant. The hydrant also had a microphone so he could hear what people were saying. Lots of little kids were spooked by it, and Kelly was initially too. But she settled in and had a rather long conversation with the hydrant, until it was time for us to return for her swim class.

As she was headed inside, she told me "I really like Robbie the Fire Hydrant... And don't tell me anything about him." She sort of looked over to where the fireman was standing with the RC rig, so it was obvious that she knew the hydrant was a fake, but she wanted to sustain the fantasy.

Kelly's swim class went well, though she still needs to work on kicking while stroking with her arms. According to her teacher, she has a tendency to stop kicking when her head comes up, which causes her lower body to drop into the water, slowing her down for the next stroke. We've got one more private tutoring session, then there'll be a break until summer vacation. Jean's thinking of enrolling her in the 'Minnow' class, twice a week, and continuing the private tutoring once a week, for a total of three swim days a week. Good exercise too.

When she had gotten dressed after her class we headed toward the car, but Kelly wanted to go into the 'safety house'. I told her that she'd be in there awhile, as they were actually talking about safety and showing a safety video, but she still wanted to go. I swear she sat through the whole thing so that she would be allowed to go to the second floor and climb down the fire ladder. Anyway, as we were driving home, she told me that she'd had a really good time. I'm happy she got to do something different over the weekend, as her friend Trinity wasn't able to come over for a play date this time.

Friday, May 3, 2002

New Pictures

Got some new pictures. Or rather old pictures. I donated some of my old video tapes to NOVA awhile ago, and Alan, the archivist, discovered these in the sleeve of one of the tapes. We probably still have the negatives somewhere, but I didn't want to hunt, so I scanned the prints in on the flatbed scanner. Hence the low quality.

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing Kelly's about three years old in these images.

Thursday, May 2, 2002


The question is: as we globalize, is India Westernizing, or is America Indianizing?

Just maybe, you live in a nation of arrogant maharajas, sinister influence peddlers, dubious elections and corrupt accountants. With big software industries, and alarming gaps between the privileged and the underclass. Where multi-generational political dynasties reign over Congress, in a center of government bedevilled by Moslem terrorists. Is that your country? Really, pick any two.

Bruce Sterling

Wednesday, May 1, 2002


I avoided the donuts, but Burr and Robin persuaded me to go with them to Wu's Open Kitchen (get it? W.O.K.?). Shared family-style were Egpplant in Garlic Sauce, Twice-cooked Pork, and my personal favorite, Kung Pau Chicken. I didn't pig out, but of course one always eats more when dining at a restaurant. Should I skip dinner?

Triumph of the Will

Whoo Hoo! I succeeded in ignoring the big box o' donuts by the coffee station until they were all gone!

What're You Watching?

As if the book reading overload wasn't enough, the cable folks added several new networks to our lineup yesterday, while playing musical chairs with the existing channels, screwing up all my presets -- why do they do that? On the plus side, my ReplayTV only needed to be pointed at the new organization, 'Tualatin - AT&T Broadband Rebuild', and it automatically shifted all my recording requests to their new channel locations!

Interesting new channel #1 would have to be the Food Network. I only really expect to seek out one show, because my friend Tom likes it so much: Iron Chef. We have had two episodes of an American remake, hosted by William Shatner, but this is the original show from Japan. A challenger chef squares off against a professional chef defending his title of 'Iron Chef', and each is given a key ingredient which they must incorporate into several recipes, to be tasted by the judges. The American show was sort of fun, but I really didn't like the 'sports commentator' format. We'll see how this show works out.

The other network I want to check out is the International Channel. I've already set the ReplayTV to record Fujisankei News, which we used to get subtitled on one of the news networks. But they dropped it, and I haven't had my fix of Japanese news programs for ages. It's a half hour every day, so I think I'll only record it once or twice a week. Just checking out their Japanese Programming, it looks interesting, but there are other things as well, such as the International Film Festival, that I'm looking forward to grazing on.

What're You Reading?

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Been busy at work, and I've had a backlog of books from the library to work through at home. In addition to the Rare Earth book, I finally received the book Life Everywhere. Jean's reading it now, and I'm in line...

The 5.5 version of Photoshop 6 Artistry is looking good, and is the probable candidate for purchase. The Wow! book was too cluttered, and other books I've heard are good are not available at the library, so this one wins out of a field of two. It is good though.

Finally, another sci-fi series, by author Ken MacLeod. I'm reading the second book, Stone Canal, which is loosely connected to the first, The Star Fraction. I'd like to read the whole sequence before trying to record my impressions on the series. So far it's entertaining, but not as engrossing as the Peter F. Hamilton series was.