My name now shows up on the third 24 Hours of Inform contestant list, so I had better get cracking.
Actually, the development time restriction and mandatory plot elements are quite helpful to me as a first time Inform author; I've zeroed in on an idea and all that remains now is to do some research and code the thing. (Oh, is that all there is to it! I make it sound so easy to myself.)
"The adventure must be set in a theatre. It must involve a petticoat, an advertisement, something which is repainted, and a trapdoor."
The only recurring dreams I seem have anymore are varations on the "I'm back in high school and suddenly I realize that not only am I in the wrong class, I've been going to the wrong class all semester and now there's a big test in the class I was supposed to be going to" theme.
With all of the deadlines I've been juggling lately, I suppose the meaning is clear enough... but 12 years after graduating it sure would be nice not to have to stress about fictional high school matters in my sleep.
It would seem that the rose-colored glasses I ordered when we left California have arrived. This post has been percolating for a while now. I actually have an outline sitting on my hard drive that I could probably turn into a short memoir of my mid-20's - but I'm not feeling that ambitious this weekend.
This afternoon I came across a disk of many photos that I took in southern California between 1999 and 2002. I've known of its existence for some time, but I haven't looked at its contents since I began using iPhoto; the hodgepodge of cryptically named and dated directories burned onto an old CD-ROM was about as organized as I ever expected them to get.
A good number of these photos were taken during 2001, a year that began with the expectation of a move to metro New York and ended with the expectation of an indefinite existence in Los Angeles. I had made an uneasy peace with life in SoCal, and begun to make the most of living in a desert full of disappearing post-modern architecture. My new, home-grown weblog software also provided incentive to go out and collect photos.
It was a pretty good time for us, the recent unpleasantness in New York notwithstanding. Kim and I got married, and I was settled into my first real programming job at Valley Presbyterian. We didn't have a lot of friends, but those we had were really good ones like our neighbors Jen and Larry. We were regulars at any number of establishments in our neighborhood... if you overlook the fact that we were economically trapped there, it sounds great!
A favorite late-night passtime of mine is to go poking through the annals of my weblog every month or two; the "Potentially Related Entries" sections of recent entries usually provide a good jumping off point. One night last week I sat and read through the entire months of October and November, 2001, and I'll be darned if I didn't find myself a little bit homesick.
This has been a year of some significant change, even if you account for the fact that turning 30 wasn't the life-shattering catastrophe for me that people seemed to want it to be. ("Uh-oh, the BIG 3-0? Are you freaking out?") My Grandfather passed away in March after an extended fight with Alzheimer's disease - in all of my 30 years, it was the first death in what I think of as my immediate family. It was not unexpected, but it certainly did shine a big bright light on the things that I took for granted when I headed out to California with Kim eight years ago, and wasn't really forced to acknowledge until our return six years later. I miss him, and probably my life's greatest regret (I like to think that I don't have many) is that I never got to have a meaningful conversation with him as an adult; after intermittent visits between college trimesters I went straight to California. On the few occaisions I visited New Hampshire from the west coast, our visits were brief bordering on perfunctory, and by the time I returned for a visit in 2000 his mind had begun to fail him. I'm writing this while sitting at his desk, which came into my possession along with several of his coats and a venerable Hohner chromonica.
In October, we had to put our greyhound Trooper to sleep. That was unexpected. It was a decision that was pretty much made for us due to the nature of his injury (A hip fracture due to osteosarcoma), but it was also a decision that we had to make with barely 24 hours of psychological preparation. I miss the hell out of him.
Trooper was our first dog, adopted in early 1997 after his brief racing career. 1997 was probably our most consistently miserable year in California (although some strong arguments could be made for 1998); we spent the last four months of 1996 catching our breath and trying to give Los Angeles and the special effects business the benefit of the doubt. We spent all 12 months of 1997 realizing that we really weren't crazy about either. We were broke, and in May of '97 my trusty 1988½ Escort got totaled while I was on a shop errand. I only spent about three months riding the bus from Sherman Oaks to Sun Valley, but it seemed a hell of a lot longer at the time. Insurance money replaced the Escort with a 1966 Mustang which spent most of the following year in various garages in Orange County, but that too is a subject for an entire entry of its own. We were broke and homesick, but we had Trooper. His companionship and the responsibility of caring for him helped us through those scary early years to an extent that I'm only fully realizing as I write this. It is hard to remember back to life in California when it was just Kim and I, and it's even harder to get used to life without him all these years later.
So here it is, three years after those early blog entries, and yes, I'm a little bit homesick - missing friends, and missing the best coffee in the world, the best chili in the world, and the best potato knishes in the world from continental bakery in North Hollywood. I wouldn't trade being back in New England for any of those things, though; I think that what I'm really missing is that small window in late 2001/early 2002 where life had settled into a comfortable (if slightly existential) routine that didn't involve massive uprooting, six months of unemployment, or the loss of loved ones.
Ahh, there's nothing I love more than killing a Saturday afternoon trying to figure out why something that usually "Just Works" doesn't.
In this case, I'm installing Tomcat on a new Windows laptop that needs to go to Europe on Monday.
Always eager to reduce cruft whenever possible, I unchecked the "Install example applications" box in the Windows installer. This lead to an exception when I would attempt to start Tomcat:
Catalina.stop: LifecycleException: Coyote connector has not been started
(New thing learned about Tomcat today: using "catalina.bat debug" is your friend.)
After some creative Googling, I finally came across a bug report from a slightly older version of Tomcat:
The workaround? You can either comment out some lines in server.xml, or reinstall Tomcat with example apps.
For the record, I just bottled my first batch of cider.
I'm not terribly optimistic about the way bottling went. I wound up being a bit sloppy, and there were probably plenty of opportunities for random contamination to occur. Plus I think some of the sanitizing solution I was using in the siphon backwashed into the cider, because the hose I was using to bottle was too large for my racking cane and air got in where the two were connected.
I wouldn't be too concerned about that normally except it's a small batch - maybe 1.75 gallons, and I was using diluted bleach because I'm out of OneStep. If the finished product has a piquant poolwater aftertaste, I'll know why.
Everything went quite well to date, though - I started with two gallons of unfiltered apple juice from Whole Foods (at the time I got it in my head to try making hard cider, none of the local orchards had started selling cider yet), measured the Original Gravity at 1.050, and pitched a packet of Lalvin champagne yeast on 10/16.
Two weeks later, the gravity was down to .990 (this is definitely a very dry cider. smells a bit like white wine), and I racked the cider from the 5 gallon donut filling bucket I used as a primary fermentor (Go ask your local donut shop - they'll probably be happy to set some aside for you) back to the glass bottles the juice originally came in.
Tonight the gravity was still at .990, so I decided to bottle. When all was said and done, I wound up with 15 12 ounce bottles, just shy of 1.5 gallons - which is good, because that was the exact amount I had measured priming sugar for. According to the calculation I found somewhere on the internet, the alcohol content for this batch is about 7.84% ABV.
Siphoning was clumsy. False starts, the aforementioned backwash... in the end there was a fair amount of bare-hands/open air contact... hopefully though the higher alcohol content plus the fact that my hands were pretty well sanitized themselves means nothing foreign will start growing in the bottles. I'll be interested to see what I wind up with in a couple of weeks; hopefully it will be nicely carbonated just in time for Thanksgiving. I briefly considered priming with maple syrup instead of sugar, but decided to stick to the basics this first time around.
Of course, everything I've read indicates that this stuff should really be aged for at least a year to reach its full potential. I'll have to post a taste test next year.
"The Country is bound for one LONG walk of shame. America, the once beautiful, is slowly making its way back to its apartment, still wearing last night's clothes. The country has sex hair, and can taste its own breath."
(What follows is not suitable for polite company, but an interesting metaphor nonetheless.)
"To put it bluntly, Americans have chosen to return a man to the White House who has supervised the killing of more civilians than Slobodan Milosevic. We have signed onto a President who sanctions torture, who wantonly rejects any international treaty--Kyoto, the ABM and the International Criminal Court--that doesn't suit his messianic agenda. Who truly believes "God Almighty" is on his side."
It is unfathomable to me how close this election is, according to the polls... but I've had this deep-down hope for months now.
As I've said to friends and coworkers, I hope that all of the people who have been ready to vote against Bush since the supreme court handed him the last election have been patiently biding their time, waiting for today to roll around so that they can all rise up and give the Bush administration an undisputable message (no recounts necessary) that they Are Not Wanted anymore.
I hope there's this vast, quiet army of voters who nobody's bothered to poll, who don't need Al Franken or Michael Moore to tell them what to do, who don't need to maintain political blogs or go to rallies or any of that... I hope the pundits, the pollsters, and most of all our smirking good ole boy of a President are surprised by how strongly Kerry wins.
I really hope. I can't imagine what this country will look like in another four years if Bush is reelected.