Update

Apr. 19th, 2009 07:48 pm
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Not much posted here recently - Facebook gets most of my attention these days. But there is a lot going on, I'm doing a lot more living than blogging about living.

Over the last couple of months I've been making a lot of friends in my neighborhood. Being able to hang out in cafes in the afternoons is extremely conducive to meeting people. I've always been a cafe person, and I love that I have four or five different places right on my street that I can just "be" in that aren't bars. So I've befriended nearly everyone who works behind the counter at all these places, and am now a regular everywhere, and get introductions or get involved in interesting conversations everywhere I go and even connect people with other cool people or talk about neat ideas. I love it.

I decided to try and get some of my new friends together for an underground dinner hosted at my place and catered by my friend Sara and her Lightbulb Oven. Sadly, most of them could not make it, but I will be seating 15 folks here for a five course dinner - including a reporter from some magazine, and a photographer. This inspired me to clean out and redecorate my apartment. My office is now located in the back of my apartment, and I've reorganized the kitchen a little bit; my landlord even got me a brand new stove! Ultimately I'd like to take down the afterthought of a closet and storage area here in the new office to make the room bigger, and then paint the walls blue to inspire creativity. I might get around to doing that by late Summer or so, maybe.

I am now "officially" dating someone long distance; those of you following on Facebook have no doubt seen pictures and references to Nari ([livejournal.com profile] narnarthinks). We went out for about a month before she moved back to Austin, Texas to live with her family and return to her company's HQ out there - a few weeks later she flew back to visit for a long weekend. She's coming back to visit me again from 5/10 to 5/17, and to say that I'm looking forward to that would be the understatement of the century. Long distance, as one would expect, is a good and bad thing; but, in this case, since we weren't able to spend much time together when we were short distance, I'd have to say it's much more bad than good.

I'm actually putting a lot of time into iPhone development now, and am learning the ins and outs of Xcode and associated tools. There's a roadblock I've been attempting to overcome, and debugging with the tools is helping me better understand what I'm doing wrong. I feel like I'm making progress though; at this point, since I'm going to WWDC 09 the first week of June, I really need to have some kind of application finished before I get there; I'm hoping to have two ready, but we'll see.
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I've noticed that most of my friends (and myself included) are much more interested in posting stuff to Facebook now. I think this is for several reasons:

1) Lots and lots of people are using it (stronger network).
2) The interface is easier to use - you can post links and photos and so forth with no HTML needed (LJ always makes you go through a couple gyrations to do stuff like that, FB makes it painless and prettier)
3) It's shorter attention span; less content, and updated much more frequently.

I don't think LJ can do anything about 1 and 3, but they could at least be trying to make their product slightly easier to use. All they have to do is replicate the Post Links and Post Photos features the way they have them set up on Facebook, and then make the Friends page smaller and more wall-like, the way Facebook does it. It's the interface, stupid!!
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This past weekend was extremely action-packed, and immensely enjoyable.

Of musicals, carousing, art, and movies )

So, currently coming up on the radar, we have:
- Finish the movie synopsis for the magazine
- Call a recruiter about a contract software assignment
- Interview on Tuesday with a small software firm
- This weekend: NY Comic-con! Sol Chinese New Year!! (did you RSVP??)
- Next weekend: Intercon? Mr. [livejournal.com profile] gower, we need to chat.

CToons

Feb. 28th, 2006 11:37 pm
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My first job out of college was working for an Internet startup called CToons Studios. I worked with an animator there by the name of Kevin Lane... on a whim I decided to google him, and look what I found!
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I had some great company this weekend. Treyvana and boy came to visit, and we had a merry time. I feel that I could have been a bit more entertaining, but I found myself doing a lot of house related things like laundry and keeping the place generally tidy. We spent a lot of the time petting the cat and doing TV related activities, though we did go out to dinner Saturday night.

I did a fair amount of excellent cooking though (if I may say so). I finally bought the waffle iron I wanted, and used my homemade baking mix to make a dozen tasty, crispy Belgians on Saturday. Today I fired up the oven and quick cooked a skirt steak on my cast iron pan - turned it into three huge, delicious steak and onion quesadillas.

I think that I'm going to end up running a bed and breakfast some day. There's nothing I love more than having company and cooking for them.

I wrapped up my weekend by going to see Brokeback Mountain with Becca. Yes, I cried. There's nothing to my mind more tragic than not taking the chance. If you can see the path to happiness, and you have the ability to take that path, don't stop yourself from going down it. Regret what you have done, not what you haven't.
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And so, the tri-state birthday tour is complete. Three birthdays in 30 hours across 300+ miles, two of which were 30th birthday parties.

The milk bar was fun, I got to meet several of my sisters' NYC friends, and they're a really cool bunch. The bar had these milkshake drinks that had a few shots of booze in them - extraordinarily tasty, and horrifically bad for me. My sister-in-law got hammered, and I stupidly left my debit card at the bar (thanks to my sis for getting that back for me after my parents and I had left the city).

Stayed overnight in Connecticut with the folks, and then got to help them clean out their garage some more by taking some lawn chairs, a cube fridge, an ice cream maker, and a couple of other miscellaneous items back to Worcester with me. I then cleaned up around the house for a couple hours, and set out for Christina and Jim's chorale concert at the Holliston congregational church. The chorale rocked the house, even though the orchestra was a little flaky. Recordings should be available soon...

There was an after concert party a couple of houses away where we had cake for Christina (carvel ice cream cake!) and good gravy, was it ever an awesome party. HUGE spread of scrumptious food, beautiful house, very nice people. I'm actually considering joining the New England Chorale now just so I can go to the rockin' parties.

Around 11:30pm, I got a text message from Justin responding to my "happy birthday" text message of several hours before (brak: txt msgs r GR8 buD!). I slogged my way back to Worcester and ended up hanging out at his place until around 3am or so, delivering good humor and foot massages to the masses.

Tonight - Bijou-y goodness!
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I woke up at around 1:15 pm today. I woke up pretty early on Saturday and had a damn full day - I was expecting guests for breakfast, but didn't receive any. I had roused at about 7 am in order to clean up the house and get the kitchen ready for some cooking; I frantically cleaned the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. When no one had arrived by about 10:30 am, I figured I wouldn't see anyone for a while, so I started cleaning the shelves in my pantry (to make space for dishes and pans and such that were all over the counters).

I got the kitchen into a pretty nice state - it's really solid now, all the appliances are in the right places, and I've made some good prep areas, and I cleaned off the little shelf between the windows and put spices, oils, and hot sauces on it. Around 1:30 pm I decided to make breakfast for myself... I made a ham and cheese omlette on my brand new electric griddle, and I slowly cooked a pound of bacon in my cast iron pan on the stove (I didn't eat it all of course - I'll have a nice BLT or two for lunch this week). The round table against the windows is now a little breakfast nook - coffee machine, hot pot, toaster, sandwich press, and the big griddle when I want to set it up.

On the opposite side of the kitchen, I have my Kitchenaid mixer, the microwave, and the nice stainless steel scale I got for my housewarming. I can also set up the bread machine on that table if I don't need it for prep area.

The pantry is about halfway ready. All the open shelves are clean, but I have to finish cleaning up the cabinets. Once I finish washing more pots and pans, I can put those away on the shelves...

I'm really starting to like living in my apartment now. I'm at the point where I can just kind of sit around and feel good about the way things look. I'm getting comfy. It feels very, very nice.

Oh, and since I completely digressed... the other portion of my day was the Gweepnet tenth anniversary party. From 6pm to 2am, I hung out with 80 of the folks on gweep.net and had a great, great time. Lots of people I haven't seen in person in a long while. I was so damn tired when I got home though... just slept for eleven freaking hours.

And I hear tomorrow is supposed to be another foot of snow. Freaking a... at least there won't be any drought this year.
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Despite being dissed by a number of people who said they would stop by, a good time was had by all. Android and I played "Tigris and Euphrates" - my first game of it, and I managed to win by one point on the secondary tiebreaker score (Android had 12/12/12/15, and I had 12/12/13/14). Zss showed up a little while later, and we played a quick round of "Zendo" and then a quick game of "Cartegena" where Android sailed away with his six red pirates. Lastly, we played a three player game of "Carcassone" which I happened to win by a bit of a landslide (98 points, a good 15 or 20 points ahead of second and third place).

I'm eager to try playing T&E with more people to see how the dynamic changes; it was very neat with two players, and it seems to work well as a two player game, so I'm having a hard time imagining what happens with more players. One of these weekends I'd also like to get folks in on a big "Advanced Civilization" game...

Game Night

Jan. 31st, 2003 12:27 pm
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This past Tuesday Android, Zss, and Creatrixx participated in game night. We played "Phantoms of the Ice", an Alan Moon / White Wind game left to me by Chris J., and as Android brought his satchel o' gaming doom, we played "Shaufenster".

"Phantoms" was great - I won! Woo! It's a hockey game with forwards, defenders, and goalies; they are valued from 0 to 11 and when you play a game against someone else's team, you play them off of one another kind of like war. The idea is to win nine games, and then have a multi-game playoff with the second highest scoring team to determine the champion. You also get to draft new players by pulling them off of replacement decks or trade with other teams by randomly taking cards from other people's hands. It's a fun little game.

I also won at "Shaufenster"... it was a good night for me! The idea of Shaufenster (or "shop window", in German) is to collect sets of cheesy jewelry and cash them in for money. The objective is to get the most money, of course. You collect sets of jewelry in your safe, and then put jewelry up for sale in your shop window. Every turn, people get to choose whether or not they will add to their safe or whether to pick up the "purchase turn" card which determines his or her priority in purchasing from shop windows. It takes a little bit to really figure out good strategies for this game, as the value of your collection changes according to what you have in your safe (more incomplete collections devalues items) and selling to other people also nets you money... it's a little difficult to explain without demonstrating with the cards.

Anyhow, much fun was had by all. Are you coming next Tuesday??
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I can't believe I fit almost forty people in my apartment.

I am quite happy that people took sandwiches home with them.

Having parties is the best possible excuse to clean. My apartment looks really nice now after picking up from the party, and I put my nice new kitchen scale housewarming gift out in the kitchen, along with my other shiny appliances... yay clean kitchen!

Yuehrmah makes really amazing cookies. I will surely gain weight because of them.

Tomorrow night is game night!
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From here on out, I'm going to be hosting game night at my and Tom's place in Worcester on Tuesday nights. It may not be quite every week, because I know I'll have the occasional networking event on a Tuesday night, but Tom may get into it enough that he can be here on the nights that I'm not.

Tomorrow night will be the first night - starting at 6:30pm (email me if you don't know how to get to my place). It's very easy to find but parking can be very, very limited.

I have all manner of games - board games, card games, video games. We don't have a LAN set up yet, but we can do multiplayer on Xbox and Gamecube. There are a lot of board and card games I haven't tried yet, but I'll leave it up to the folks that come what they'd like to play. Also, please bring your own snacks and drinks - there will also probably be a take out order placed before 8pm.
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Today I spent a few hours at the new place with Tom. He was all bundled up, and after a bit we both realized it was far too cold... turned out that we had run out of oil again. I had to call the oil company and then go down there in person to fill out my credit application in order to get them to come out today - but come out they did! Our oil tank is full, the apartment is toasty, and the new digital / programmable thermostat is installed and running! Huzzah!!

Tom and I also played with our cable box and TiVo set up today - we weren't getting all the channels, so I had to redo the guided setup again. Unfortunately I was a klutz and hit the switch on the power strip by accident (oops) in the middle of it. It screwed up the cable box, so I had to fiddle with it all and repeat setup again to get it working right. We still weren't getting a couple of channels - but then Tom tweaked something on the cable box to tell it to find all of its channels itself, and then everything fixed itself. Yay! Now I don't have to worry about missing any TV shows. I do still have to move my TV and speakers though... before Wednesday actually, because that's when Jim and Christina's new TV comes in. At some point I have to get a receiver so I can actually use my speakers... and I'll also need to get an entertainment center to house all of this stuff and our various game consoles (lots of stuff to buy).

So far we've been able to run the fridge, a laptop, a few lights, and the TiVo, TV, VCR, and cable box without blowing fuses or having other electrical problems. This bodes well, but I'm still worried about our power supply. The landlord promised that the wiring would be the first thing he would fix, but it remains to be seen whether or not he'll come through for us. He's spending a lot of money fixing pipes... water and gas plumbing. I think he plans to do some of the wiring himself, but I'm worried about whether or not he'll have the dough to pay for it all.

I mopped my bedroom floor with Murphy's oil soap - my room looks so wonderful now! I still have to clean off the floor molding with some formula 409, and I have to pick up some nice heavy curtains for the windows to keep the heat in. I need to get a little table lamp too (more to buy!).

The next major project is cleaning the bathroom... I've scraped all the flaking paint off of the ceiling in there; now I have to use some 409 on the walls to make them less dingy. After that comes the cleansing of the tub, sink, and toilet... and then, finally, the floor. Although it's such a nasty mess that I doubt it's going to come out very clean; I'll probably end up getting a nice long set of bath mats to cover up most of the floor (so many things to buy, will it never end??). The only other updating I plan to do around the apartment is to scrape the rest of the flaking paint off the ceilings and wash the floors.

About another week, I think. It'll be completely liveable by then, and I will take that first luxurious bath with lavender bath salts in that glorious claw foot tub. Mmm.
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Hot water was installed.
Hot water leaked from the bathroom sink feed.
Hot water was turned off.

I went to Target and bought some stuff.
I ogled a hot latina girl, and she smiled at me a bunch.
I went to Target later and bought new boots.

Dan and John came over, I gave them an apartment tour.
Dan gave me some homemade yum-yums to sample. yay Dan!

Maybe I'll finish moving in tomorrow...?
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Happy shiny new DELL PC arrived yesterday. It came with Windows XP Professional... after 10 minutes of futzing, I managed to make it look like it should instead of looking like "OS for motards". And once again, I realized that Microsoft hasn't changed a damn thing with any of their operating systems except the cosmetics.

Anyhow, I am currently transferring huge amounts of data from multiple systems to this new one. And this one has a CD-RW, so I'll be able to conveniently archive my data for a change. Though I still haven't received my package of CD-RW discs from DELL yet, I guess because it had to ship separately. No matter. There's still plenty to do just moving files around and installing software and such.

In other news, the weather is shit outside. It's eight in the morning, and it's completely flat, rainy, and dreary outside, almost greyscale. Perfect climate for staying inside and playing with the new computer.

On the apartment front - Tom and I figured out the cable system last night and hooked up his TV to it. At some point I'll need to discern how TiVo will hook into this beast of a system. Digital cable officially has Too Many Channels (tm). I'm sure it'll be too much for my poor little TiVo, so I'll have to save up for a big old eighty hour Series II. This will be after I get a receiver to power my speakers though. And neither of these is going to happen until I have steady income... sigh.

I'm also looking at being in my first Shakespearean production come the end of March. It'll be "Love's Labours Lost" and it'll be taking place in Higgins House at WPI. I'm trying to convince Tom to join in the production with me. Round-table casting is going to take place this Saturday - I've never read the play before; are there any fans of the playwright out there willing to recommend a role for me?
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Tomorrow evening or Wednesday may be the only days I have to move my bulky items. I don't know what time this will be happening, but supposedly the weather is going to clear in the afternoon. After Wednesday, the weather is going to be shit until next week.

If anyone out there can lend me any moving assistance, I would appreciate it. Please email or call me to let me know if you can help, and I will give you more details. All I have to do is get Jeremy and his truck, and move a mattress, a boxspring, a bookshelf, a drawing table, and an air hockey table - none of which are amazingly heavy, but they're all bulky enough to warrant truck hauling.

Assistants will be rewarded with alchohol and chocolate.
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I spent the weekend visiting friends in another state. It was a long drive up and down the Eastern seaboard, and the caravan I was part of covered a lot of roads between here and there. When we got to Virginia, the surrounding town that our friends lived in was wholly unremarkable - and this was mainly because it looked like everywhere else I'd ever been in New England. The same chain restaurants, the same retail stores. To be sure, there were a couple of new names that you don't see often north of the Mason-Dixon: Shoney's, Waffle House, and the like...

For convenience's sake, we ended up eating at McDonald's and Pizza Hut. And I realized yet again why I don't eat at those "restaurants". I cooked breakfast on Sunday, and made two pounds of bacon, a pound of maple sausages, eggs and toast... and it was all orders of magnitude better than the meals we had the rest of the trip.

It really, truly upsets me that we as a people are surrendering the joy of food to the forces of mass produced darkness. McDonald's burgers are flavorless wads of chewy gristle, and pizza from Pizza Hut is just a salty slice of bread with specks of generic salty meats. And the supermarkets are full of convenience meals that move from your freezer to your oven or microwave... only a few minutes to gratification! It disgusts me.

I refuse to accept "I have no time to cook" or "I don't know how to cook" as excuses. Cooking is not some arcane ritual - it just takes a small amount of patience and a little know-how that you can get from this book. What cooking is is one of the few great pleasures that life affords us. It's cheaper to cook your own food. It's healthier to cook your own food. Food that you cook yourself tastes better because your ingredients are fresh and are not the lowest possible quality that a business can serve you for their maximum profit. And you can make food that you can't get anywhere else - no restaurant serves foccacia toast with a slice of horseradish cheddar the way I like to make it. You can't walk into a restaurant and ask for something that's not on the menu and expect them to just make it; try that next time you walk into a lousy Outback.

And I'm not knocking all restaurants either. There are many examples of fine cuisine out there, and there are even one or two fast food places that are worthy to consume from. But I will still prefer the hearty and infinitely tastier sandwich I can make from Widoff's italian bread and delectable meats and cheeses from my favorite deli to anything I can get at Subway.

The sad truth is that it comes down to this - people just don't want to cook. And that is the most sorrowful part of the tale, because it means that the people that feel that way have never actually experienced the satisfaction and wholehearted joy of preparing a meal. Every time I make a meal, I treat it as others would a religious experience. I know that runs counter to what I said earlier about food preparation not being an arcane ritual - it truly isn't. But I like to imagine myself in that role, totally putting myself into a meal that I prepare for the people I care most about. You can't get that kind of love from a restaurant chef, and you certainly won't ever get it from a minimum wage fast food worker...
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Today I spent about five hours scraping wallpaper glue off my walls. The process was very physical, very mind-numbingly zen. Spray walls with DIF - wait - wet walls with sponge - wait - scrape scrape scrape - wash walls again. I'd take the scraper, run it along the plaster, then dip it in the bucket and shake it off to get the scum off it... just like shaving the walls.

This DIF stuff I'm using is great. It's this enzyme that just dissolves the glue; it all comes right off and washes away.

My good friend Seth came by in the early part of the afternoon and he actually helped me out quite a bit. We got three of four walls completely clean. All that really remains is the wall with the windows in it, so it's not really a whole wall even. I can start priming the room at least. I may even get it all painted before leaving for Virginia this weekend...

Still no water yet. Apparently a plumber has to come check all the pipes, and then the gas company has to come and check everything... man, I hope I can move in before Christmas. Damn it all anyway.
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My apartment has heat! Hooray!! Now all I need is water - and that should follow shortly.

The place has been emptied, and the rooms I am not using have been closed. I've moved about 60% of my stuff there, and I spent the day today scraping wallpaper off the walls in my bedroom with the help of two excellent friends (noah, kim, you guys rule). Tomorrow I'm going to finish cleaning the walls and proceed to paint primer over them, the walls in the closet, and the ceiling. After that, I'll put real paint on the walls (on Monday I guess)... and then I will have a BEDROOM! Rock.

So it looks like my current target move date is Wednesday of next week. I may end up having to rent a U-haul to make the final move and carry a bunch of stuff all at once.
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This holiday week was pretty memorable - I actually went to three Thanksgiving celebrations over the course of seven days.

First up was the Sunday D&D session, where my housemate prepared the meal for the gaming group that comes to their house on a biweekly basis. She made turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, and canned cranberry sauce. The stuffing was a modified version of the Caprio family stuffing recipe that I had at all my childhood Thanksgiving dinners. It was a good repast, and it was fun having a meal with all those folks (even though the nine of us were just kind of standing around in the kitchen). Apple pie and pumpkin pie for dessert.

Second was the journey to Connecticut and Thanksgiving, Caprio style. My mom and dad made dinner for us and my paternal grandmother and maternal great-grandmother. A small dinner, since my sisters went to Indiana to visit in-laws for the holiday. Mom did a great job with the stuffing - she went with the traditional recipe using Arnold's cornbread stuffing, thyme, sage, and browned hamburger instead of sausage. The first course, naturally, was homemade manicotti... man, I love those. They come out so thick and tasty... I'd never order manicotti, even in the best Italian restaurant, because I know my folks make it better. Mom also made my Aunt Millie's stuffed yams (a recipe I have to add to the online archive) and they came out deliciously. Oh, and lest I forget - the stuffed artichokes?? Man, those rocked. So we had manicotti, stuffed artichokes, stuffing, stuffed yams, turkey & gravy, canned cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls and italian bread. Homemade cheesecake for dessert. Phew!

Last, but not even remotely least, Saturday night's dinner and holiday crafts party at lionlady's! What an awesome awesome time we had - fourteen of us, I think. lionlady and buddhagrrl were the cooks (with help from lionlady's sister), and they prepared an incredible, amazing meal. The turkey and gravy were completely phenomenal, with stuffing prepared inside and outside of the turkey (everyone ate the stuffing that was inside, of course).

I can never stay out of the kitchen, so I made my own contribution by preparing the mashed potatoes. They were a hit - but all I really did was salt and pepper the potatoes (always season!) and add ten tablespoons of butter, three quarters of a cup of milk, and a whole lot of mashing action. There were easily four quarts of mashed potatoes for fourteen people, but they got reduced to about a cup or two, even with all that other food! *proud*

Third Thanksgiving was composed of turkey and gravy, stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes, steamed kale with garlic, and asparagus (but no cranberry sauce this time! oh well). Apple, blueberry, and pumpkin pie for dessert.

I'm going to have to be real good with my caloric intake this week. :)


Unrelated side note: I'm still not moved into my new apartment in Worcester yet. The heating oil company is giving the landlord a hard time, they apparently missed three appointments with him all last week. Hopefully they'll pick up the ball and set things up Monday or Tuesday... as soon as that's all set, I'll have heat and hot water. Next step will be updating my bedroom!
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Please welcome [livejournal.com profile] rbetts (of rbetts and tcarr fame) into the fold. He is an old school WPI classmate of mine, and he is known for writing pretty journal entries. If we ask nicely maybe we can get him to repost his "arid transmissions". :)

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mik3cap

June 2010

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