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|Thursday, January 1st, 2037|
|Monday, December 9th, 2013|
|Bathroom renovation ideas/warnings
I'm having the bathroom in my house redone soon.
One thing I worry about is the possibility of failing to specify or ask for things I may have always taken for granted, so they don't occur to me. I know what I'd like to gain
, but I may not be aware of all the things I don't want to lose
Like ten years ago when I got a car that didn't have map pockets on the backs of the seats, which I'd always depended on - I liked being able to store a few large atlases and laminated maps behind the passenger seat, and be able to easily reach for them when stopped at a light. It simply hadn't occurred to me that some cars may not have those. Or when I got some house windows replaced, and ended up with windows that don't have metal bars or little tabs near the bottom such that you can push them up from below to open. I'd simply taken for granted the ability to open a window next to my bed a crack while lying down, and it had never occurred to me that anyone might make a window you have to be standing up to open, so it wasn't something I asked about or looked for. I saw the windows before I agreed to have them, and just didn't notice that critical detail.
So, what am I not noticing about bathrooms? Any ideas?
|Friday, December 6th, 2013|
|Nexus 5 or Moto X?
I'm going to replace my Galaxy Nexus, and keep the T-Mobile service I currently have. Given that, do you have an opinion on whether the Moto X or Nexus 5 is better, and why
Reviews mostly seem to have a hard time choosing one over the other. What I care about:
* Battery life. Reviews are also confused about that, some say the Moto X has longer battery life and some say the Nexus 5.
* Being able to use the unlocked phone internationally (I won't get a locked phone).
* Good, non-jittery GPS that's good enough for navigation/Waze (this is one place the Galaxy Nexus fails very badly)
* Non-laggy app performance
* Easy to read display mainly for maps - but as long as it's not worse than the Galaxy Nexus, I'll like the display.
What I don't care about:
* Rooting. I don't plan to do that.
* Streaming music. I mainly use my iPad to carry music & podcasts around, for the car or for flights. No phone battery is good enough for this use, IMO; iPads last forever.
|Tuesday, November 19th, 2013|
|Serendipity in Seoul: Youth Orchestra of Caracas
My last two days in Korea, I spent on my own in Seoul. estheruth —
left on Sunday afternoon to go home and start her workweek the next morning. She had taken me around one palace, and told me where to find another palace, near city hall, so I wandered over there later in the afternoon. $1 admission, and a free museum on the grounds.
No museum for me, though, because it was closed for renovations. The palace buildings were beautiful, and sunset was approaching, when I heard lots of musical instruments being warmed up or practiced, so I went over to see what was going on. People in suits, large numbers of children dressed formally and carrying violins and trombones and cellos and clarinets, rows of chairs being set up in a space between two palace buildings. I could see a stage being prepared but that area was cordoned off and I couldn't tell if this was a public event; the palace grounds were supposed to close at sunset, less than an hour away.
After going to see more of the palace grounds and buildings, I came back around to where the musicians were and noticed lots of people were sitting or standing on the stairs and raised floor behind the chairs, with nobody checking tickets or anything of the sort. I also noticed some people with shirts labeled "Youth Orchestra of Caracas".
Venezuela has a national government-sponsored system over over 100 youth orchestras, something they've been doing since the 1970s. These orchestras tour the world, with the large majority of their members kids from very poor backgrounds. The system pays for their musical education and their touring, and in many cases the government buys their instruments for them. When they play a show in a foreign country, they usually incorporate local musicians, and a local youth orchestra.
I'd never seen a Venezuelan youth orchestra. At first I just waited around out of curiosity to see what the show was going to be like, before I went to find dinner (I was hungry). Then they started, and I stayed for the two hour show, and wished it wasn't ending when it did.
P.S. I got one more video: Here's them covering a West Side Story tune
|Monday, November 11th, 2013|
|Fictional flora and fauna
Add something to this world?
- chardvark, a leafy-green insect eater
- crêprevine, grown for its edible thin pancakelike fruit
- great danish, a large canine often filled with cheese and topped with fruit
- plexigrass, a transparent, heat-resistant grass
* Chardvark contributed by Alice Zelman; great danish from April Wells
|Thursday, October 31st, 2013|
|Congrescritter Call: Abolish the NSA
Every couple of weeks, why not make a call to your US Senators and Representative and ask the to abolish the NSA?
It's unlikely to happen, I know, though it would be a good thing to do. But if legislators took the idea of abolishing the NSA as under discussion - even if they don't expect it to happen - it would shift public perception to make other, less drastic but still reasonable changes more likely.
You can find your Senators' and Representative's phone numbers at whoismyrepresentative.com
, by putting in your ZIP code. Call their DC numbers, the ones with 202 area codes.
P.S. Why do I think asking to abolish it as not just a way to move the politics, but also a good idea? Having such a secretive organization that routinely disobeys laws and lies about it as long as they can get away with lying, because they expect not to get caught because of their secrecy, makes them nearly entirely outside of democratic government. As they grow bigger and more powerful, more and more our government is no longer under the authority of democracy. Other agencies, such as the FBI and CIA and military, show they're perfectly capable of investigating crimes, undercover work, collecting intelligence, and so on, while still working under democratic authority; something like the NSA is clearly not needed. While the NSA does some useful work, that work would be much more useful if moved to more appropriate agencies. For example, we'd get much greater public benefit from their cryptography work if it was moved to NIST and/or the NSF. Some of their functions - and people - could be moved into the CIA and FBI.
|Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013|
Today between 3pm and 5pm, I went through security and immigration/passport control and boraded flights at two different aiports.
Incheon Airport near Seoul is efficient and conveniently laid out. My train to the airport arrived at 3:45pm on Tuesday, October 22nd. 35 minutes later, at 4:20pm, I was seated on the plane. We took off at 5:15pm.
We landed at Dallas/Fort Worth and got off the plane at 3:20pm on Tuesday, October 22nd - 25 minutes earlier than I'd arrived at Incheon by train. It took me until 4:45pm to get to my gate for the connecting flight to Boston - 25 minutes later than the time I had actually been seated on the plane at Incheon.
Shortly after takeoff from Seoul, they served dinner, around 6pm. Or maybe it was late lunch? The sun set while I was eating it, but we got another, smaller meal around 11pm. I took a nap from ~11:30 - ~1:30am and the sun rose while I was sleeping. We got a third meal, "breakfast", at 4am... and then we landed an hour later at 5:15am. Except that it was 3:15pm all of a sudden.
|Monday, October 21st, 2013|
Hadas was less excited about the temples in Kyoto than I was. She liked them okay, but to her they were mainly pleasant ways to kill time while waiting to become less full, so we could have another meal :)
Wednesday night, after arrival: A Japanese restaurant recommended to us by Kahori, the woman who runs the place we were staying at. Unfortunately I don't know its name, though I could point to it on a map. I don't know if it had a name in English. It had a good variety of Japanese food types and everything was great! My favorite, and one of my favorite dishes from the whole visit, was a simple tomato salad - just tomato slices on greens with dressing and a couple of things on the side. But so good!
Thursday breakfast: We told Kahori we wanted Japanese style breakfast and she directed us to a local set-menu fast food ish breakfast place. Rice with egg, salad with dressing, tofu, tamago, things of that sort. Hadas got the breakfast with natto, but I already knew I didn't want natto so I got one without :)
Thursday lunch: We wanted to get ramen at the place dr_memory —
and M had recommended, but Fushimi Inari-taisha took a long time and we got to the ramen place in the afternoon to find they take a 3 hour afternoon break. Nearby we found a little local hole in the wall katsu place that was quite excellent. We especially liked some of the appetizers you get for free before your order arrives, including an eggplant thing, and pickled rakkyo.
Thursday dinner: We walked up and down the street of restaurants in Gion near the river, looked at lots of them, and picked a place offering kushikatsu
, which turns out to be a Japanese parallel to tapas, with everything served on a stick. Quail eggs, fried chicken, green peppers stuffed with minced meat, salmon with cheese and truffle... amazing stuff.
Friday breakfast: We walked down the main road and picked a place similar to the breakfast places we'd eaten at the day before, but instead of ordering a set menu breakfast we got some of their lunch items. Noodles and katsu curry and side dishes.
Friday lunch: This time we planned appropriately and got to Karako ramen restaurant early enough to eat there. For the first time in my life I got ramen at a restaurant and thought it tasted exactly like what I imagined ramen would taste like. Now I know that feeling of "this is good but not quite what I think it ought to be" that I get at all the places I've tried in the US is not a delusion :)
Friday dinner: Kahori made a reservation for us at a reservation-required sushi place she really likes, Tomi Sushi, and gave us a map and coupon for it. We tried various kinds of fish I'd never seen before at a sushi restaurant. I like bonito, and I can't remember the name of the other one (a bit more unusual) that I really liked. Their toro sushi was amazing! Super soft!
Saturday morning: We had to leave early to get the train to the airport, so we had to eat airport food. Alas.
P.S. I highly recommend Guest Inn Chita
if you visit Kyoto. It's a hostel-style inn but you can get private rooms. It's really nice, has a big common room and stocked kitchen, very spacious couples' shower/bathroom, good location, but the best think is Kahori who runs the place. She speaks very good English, is friendly and enthusiastic, and so helpful it's like having a concierge service at a good hotel. When we arrived late the first night and asked for a food recommendation she called the place for us to see if it was still open, and until when. She gave us maps and circled spots on them. As noted above, she made a reservation for us for dinner one night. ... and it's quite cheap!
|Monday, October 14th, 2013|
Taking a taxi here is very cheap, so it's closer to being a form of public transit than I'm used to. Today a ~25min ride on mostly highways (fast road swith occasional traffic lights) cost the equivalent of about $15. However, they don't do street addresses - you have to tell them the name of a landmark or place they know, like a major intersection or well known store or church or station.
Today we went out to the main street near our hotel and caught a cab, and I told the driver the name of the place we wanted to go. He thought for a moment and then shook his hand no no no. I said the name again, and he refused again, so we gave up, puzzled. Immediately behind him a second taxi had stopped, so I walked over to that one and said the name of the same place to the driver. He thought for a moment, said yes, and we got in.
When we got to the place, just where it was on my map, I started to give him money but then he saw something at the entry booth that I didn't catch (probably a sign I couldn't understand?) and motioned us to wait a moment while he went up and talked to the person there. He determined the thing we wanted to see had been moved to a different location, so we got back in and he took us to the new location - which turned out to be much further way.
It was a good trip, to Jeju Stone Park as it turned out, but cabs are kinda different here.
Edit: ( We also had a weird experience with the bus...Collapse )
|Friday, October 4th, 2013|
|Korea and Kyoto
On Tuesday I'm going to Korea for two weeks, with a 2.5-day trip to Kyoto in there. Visiting estheruth —
who lives in the far south of Korea, and my cousin Hadas is joining me from Israel for Kyoto and about half the Korea time. May get to see japlady —
in Seoul as well. Korea will include Seoul, Mokpo, Jeju, and probably some other place (Gwangju maybe?). Got any tips about Kyoto or Korea, or favorite things in either place, or people you know who I might want to meet? Or people I know and don't realize are there?
|Monday, September 30th, 2013|
Today, I received in the mail from Apple: My AppleCare confirmation and booklet for the iPad I purchased two years ago. It says AppleCare begins on Oct 30, 2011, and coverage expires on Oct 27, 2013.
|Thursday, September 12th, 2013|
|Come to Fresh Grass, Sep 20-22
I'm going to the Fesh Grass
festival at MassMoCA
, my favorite art museum, the weekend after this one. Sep 20-22, North Adams MA, in the Berkshires.
- Alison Brown, multigenre amazing banjo player/tunewriter, one of my favorite musicians of all time
- Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, on their last tour before retirement for good
- Edgar Meyer, a god of the upright bass, playing with Mike Marshall
- Sarah Jarosz, a classmate of Valerie's from NEC
- Sam Bush, Darol Anger, the Gibson Brothers, Bill Evans, Del McCoury, the Deadly Gentlemen, ...
Anyone else wanna come out for the weekend or for a day?
|Thursday, September 5th, 2013|
I had two separate things break on two separate email servers of mine, which conspired together to cause any email sent to any of my personal addresses to be lost starting around 1am eastern time last night. I put a workaround in at about 11am this morning so I won't lost more emails until the main server is back up. But if you sent me anything between around 1am and 11am eastern time today, it's probably lost. If you still have a copy, please send it to me again.
|Thursday, August 29th, 2013|
[via a mailing list at work]
A computer science professor walks into the classroom and says,
"Today, we're going to learn about lazy evaluation.
Okay, any questions?"
|Thursday, August 22nd, 2013|
|Is this evening over yet?
Well, that was an unexpectedly interesting evening.
I thought I was just going to the Davis Square outdoor contra dance
. Which I did do.
Shortly after the dance ended, one of the dancers I know found her backpack missing while people were just hanging out talking. It had been there near the end of the dance, and then a few minutes later it wasn't. Several of us walked around looking for it and asking people if they'd seen it. I asked her if she had a phone in the backpack and she said she did, so she tried calling it - nobody answered. Then I asked if she had a "find my iPhone" or equivalent Android app on it, and she did, but didn't think she had a way of using the service from the middle of Davis Square. Fortunately I had both a little laptop, and a phone with tethering, so I got her online and she had it locate her phone...
... which was apparently right there in Davis Square, right where we were! Her friend who was more familiar with that app than us pointed out a button on the side of the page that let us cause the phone to make a noise, so I stayed and kept clicking it while they walked around. "Found it!" It was ringing in someone's pockets. [Edit to clarify: She was the one who yelled out "found it!" or something similar. I was sitting at the computer clicking, she and a friend of hers were walking around listening. When she heard the sound she asked the guy what it was, and he pulled her phone out of his pocket.]
Initially he denied having anything to do with taking a backpack and claimed he just found the phone, but some cops came over and asked him to show what was in his pockets, and when his pockets turned out to contain this girl's credit cards and IDs, his credibility was gone. Eventually the police got him to say that he left the backpack "behind Tedeschi's", and one of them found it in a dumpster. Along with what they got from his pockets and his bag, she ended up getting pretty much everything back, so when all that was done, we went to JP Licks for some ice cream.
That's when I noticed I'd missed a call on my own phone, from my boss. I texted him back, and he responded that we had an outage in production and even though I'm not on call and the on call people were dealing with it, this particular outage is in something that I'm an expect on, so if I wasn't too busy, could I help them out?
We were already about to split up and go home, so I said sure, got home 20 minutes later, and logged in. Indeed, help was needed. The outage was a problem we'd had variations of a few times in the past, and we had a documented workaround (which I had helped develop the first time this sort of thing happened), but this particular incident involved one piece that was different in an important way. The basic strategy of the workaround was still sound, but it had to be done in a different way, and figuring out how to modify it involved understanding details of this part of the system that I know off the top of my head but the other people had to delve in docs and config files for.
After a few false starts, we puzzled out a way to modify this workaround to make it work in this case, and the outage was patched!
And it was also almost midnight.
|Saturday, August 17th, 2013|
Yesterday was our last day at the ITA Software building next to One Kendall Square. By now a lot of ex-ITA people have already transferred or dispersed to other parts of Google so many of them have already moved, but the few hundred of us who remained at the original office will be starting Monday at 4 Cambridge Center in Kendall Square (not to be confused with One Kendall Square, which as most locals know, is several blocks away from Kendall Square), adjacent to the Google Cambridge office that already existed before they bought ITA. 4CC where we're moving into is the building with Meadhall on the ground floor.
[ I had a dream where I'd left a shelf-full of stuff by my desk not packed for the movers, and only remembered it the following morning (although when I was having this dream the following morning hadn't arrived yet in reality). ]
|Wednesday, August 7th, 2013|
|A Scientist for the Senate
When I posted about Scientists in Congress
nearly 6 years ago, there were four. Of those four, only one remains, although he's been joined by Bill Foster, who I mentioned in that post because he was running for office at the time. We now have two scientists in the House, and zero in the Senate.
But Rush Holt
, the one remaining from that list of four, is now running for US Senate in New Jersey.
Cory Booker is going to win this Democratic primary next week, so we're not about to get a scientist in the Senate quite yet... but in a 4-candidate race, Rush Holt is closely tied in polls for second place. I'd love to see him finish a strong second, ahead of the other two candidates, which could make him a likely frontrunner the next time a Senate seat opens up.
Rush Holt has long been one of my favorite members of Congress. He led in the fight against paperless touch screen voting machines, and most recently, he's the one who introduced a bill this year to repeal most of the Patriot Act. He has, of course, been a voice for scientific literacy in Congressional debate. He's also the only Quaker in Congress. He's a former assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, and he's been published in Science
Who do you know in New Jersey? Can you ask them if they'll vote for Rush Holt on Tuesday?
|Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013|
|Sunday, July 21st, 2013|
|Paris trip, June 10-21
Mostly for my own reference, but some friends are curious too.
- Drive to Storrs early, a few hours with Alice at her home.
- Drive to Hartford airport to find out our flight just got canceled
- Rebook for a 6:50pm departure from Newark
- Drive to Newark, arrive 4:30pm, but spend 2 hours on parking, check-in, security, and get on flight late w/no relaxation :(
- Direct flight to Paris, overnight, minus 6 hours due to time zone.
- Arrive Paris, take 1.5 hours to connect w/Joule due to exhaustion and lack of phones
- Go to Mama Shelter
hotel w/Joule, check in, then visit her apartment and play with cat
- Joule goes to work, we go to post office and get prepaid SIM
- Return to hotel exhausted, and sleep all afternoon
- Joule meets us at hotel in the evening, we go out for Moroccan food at Chez Younice
- Extend stay at Mama Shelter to Friday, cancel Armstrong hotel reservation
- Get up early, go over to Joule's and have breakfast
- Go w/Joule to post office to get monthly SIM with data service
- Go to work w/Joule, meet her coworkers at BU Paris
- Leave Joule, get food at La Petite Marquise
- Wander around Champ de Mars, Eiffel Tower, riverbank
- Search futileley for metro station to go to Louvre, go to wrong place, backtrack
- Finally get to Louvre
2 hours later. Look at lots of stuff.
- Joule gets off work and joins us at Louvre, since it's open late on Wednesdays
- Spend two hours in the Islamic Art section
- Get things at Louvre bookstore/shop, then go up to Montmartre to meet Christine
- Dinner with Christine at Chez Plumeau
in Montmartre, through sunset
- See Sacre Coeur and view of city at night; see oddities at Editions Baleine
through their window
- Christine goes home, we go to hotel, Joule goes home
- Get up late-ish, meet Joule and have breakfast at pâtisserie/cafe
- Activate SIM and go to post office for troubleshooting.
- Joule goes to work, Alice goes to work/nap at hotel, I go to Google Paris office
- Work day at Google Paris; unexpectedly run into Jeremy from ITA/Google Cambridge
- Meet up with Joule at Ty Billig
for BU students' crêpe dinner
- Alice arrives near end of dinner; go with Joule's friend Sandra to creperie next door for second crepe dinner
- Meet elfy —
at Gare du Nord, on her arrival from Cologne
- Go back to hotel, drop off elfy's stuff, wander around with Joule in search of food
- Joule gives up and goes home; get drinks with Alice and elfy, fail to find any open food except a McDonalds :/
- Go back to hotel w/elfy very late
- Take lots of photos and be silly at hotel, then pack up stuff and check out
- Joule meets us at hotel, leave stuff there, go to pâtisserie for breakfast and eat at hotel patio
- Transfer from Mama Shelter to Murano hotel
closer to middle of Paris
- Go to Ile de la Cité w/elfy & Joule
- Make it to Crêperie des Pêcheurs
just in time to eat before closing
- Notre Dame crypt
/ underground exhibits
- Paris Flower Market on Ile de la Cité
- Walk towards Jardin des Plantes, sit down for drinks, end up getting more crepes
- Continue walking, encounter a locks of love bridge and explore it for a while
- Jardin des Plantes
until it closes for the evening
- Dinner at Tavene du Nil
on Ile Sainte-Louis
- Walk back across the islands, seeing strange sights at night
- Visit Eiffel tower at night; Joule goes home, elfy+Alice+I stay for midnight sparkly lights
- Back to hotel very late w/elfy
- Notre Dame towers
- Breakfast at pâtisserie, plus supply of macarons!
- Go to Joule's place, meet housemates and neighbor, play with cat
- Lunch at Café aux Ours with elfy and Joule
- elfy catches bus from aux Ours to Gare du Nord to return to Cologne
- Buy socks, go to neighborhood market where Joule's housemate is vending, buy various cool things
- Nap with Alice at Joule's appartment
- Christine's gig, Mary Zoo + Axemunkee
@ Joie du Peuple
- Joule takes us to gathering of her friends at a bar/cafe for a friend's birthday
- Tunisian sandwiches for dinner
- Back to hotel with Alice very late
- Sleep in! Joule meets us at hotel around noon.
- Back to Crêperie des Pêcheurs for excellent crepes
- Sainte Chapelle
, and the Conciergerie
(royal and revolutionary guard station and prison)
- Paris Bird market!
- Maison Georges Larnicol
with Joule - chocolates and macarons
- Dinner at Le Comptoir du Relais Saint Germain
- Visit Christine's apartment, get key
- Back to hotel with Alice, not very late
- Sleep in again!
- Excellent breakfast cafe near hotel, Brasserie au Grand Turenne
- Check out, take cab to Christine's with our bags
- Hang out with Christine's cats for a while
- Attempt to go to sewer museum
, but sewers are closed due to flooding from overnight storms
- Walk around, get groceries, buy stamps at post office
museum. Joule meets us there after she gets off work.
- Joule leaves us near La Hune bookstore, to go to work dinner
- Notice Church of Saint Germain des Prés
, visit it, then La Hune bookstore
- Back to Christine's, wait for her to get home from work
- Take Christine out to dinner at Chez Michel
- Hang out with cats some more and Internet stuff before bed
- Wake up super-early and meet Joule at Gare du Nord
- Train to Verneuil-L'Étang, bus to Parc des Félins
- Half day in the kitty park!
- Bus back to train station, lunch at La Niflette
- Train to Paris, Joule goes to work
- Second visit to sewer museum with Alice, this time they're open
- Alice feels unwell, back to Christine's for a long nap (Alice) and change flights (cos)
- Christine returns from work, go with her to meet Joule for dinner
- Dinner at Auberge des Pyrénées
- Last visit to Joule's apartment, gather stuff we'd left there
- Sleep at Christine's
- Up early, to Gare du Nord with Christine, say goodbye
- Train to airport, flight to Philly, flight to Newark
- Baggage still in Philly, expected on next flight in 3.5 hours
- Drive to New Brunswick, dinner with Phil at Stuff Yer Face
- Back to Newark airport, get luggage, search for motel with vacancy
- Morning at motel, then drive to Alice's parents in Montville
- Breakfast/lunch at Alice's parents' house
- Afternoon excursion to their vegetable garden plot, Alice gets plants to take home
- Drive back to Storrs
- Dinner gathering with Alice's local people
- Early to bed
- Up early, Alice to lab, I drive home to Cambridge
["with Alice" implied everywhere it's not stated, except part of the first Thursday]
|Friday, July 19th, 2013|
A print from Prague
A drawing from Dresden
A photo from Phoenix
A painting from Paris
A statue from Stalingrad
A carving from Carcassone
A tapestry from Taipei
A portrait from Portland
Edit - Some of my favorites from the comments:
A mosaic from Moscow
A watercolor from Watertown
A manuscript from Manchester
A door from Dorchester
... and some non-cities:
A collage from Colombia
A lithograph from Lithuania
An illustration from Illinois