Saturday, October 26, 2013

You can set your watch by it

Mary, mother of God and patron saint
of Washing Machine Repairpeople
There are at least three ways to tell time without a watch from where I live.  The air raid siren that goes off downtown at noon every Tuesday is audible.  There are plenty of bells from the adjacent cathedral, Our Lady of Perpetual Agitation, although they don't always correlate well with Earth time.
And lastly, as retaliation upon the shoppers of San Francisco for not spending lots of money during Fleet Week (thanks to the sequester, we were spared the Blue Angels' aural assault this year), the waterfront merchants have paid for fireworks every Saturday night at 8:30 pm this month.  Thanks for that.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Overheard in San Francisco

At 7th and Market: "Hey, you see the narcos, right? ... HEY!  The narcs are right there!"

We won today

Actually, we didn't.  We didn't even play today.  In the last week, both the Dodgers and the Tigers, my baseball teams by birth and marriage, were eliminated four games to two from their respective league championship playoffs.  Instead of a World Series in which I can't lose—which would have been a glorious thing given the extent to which anxiety and dread dominate most of my baseball-watching—the best possible outcome is now a Red Sox sweep, which excuse me, ehhnchchhennnnchchh.

But this morning I went to my new gym for a 6 am class, a new and more difficult class for me and one that I was barely able to complete about 70% without crossing the line to nausea and, one can only presume, heart attack and death.  I came home, put on a dry sweatshirt and walked the dog, and pondered: why do I feel less elation right now, having just finished a tough workout that is directly improving my personal health and mental well-being, than I did when "we" won the first playoff series?  The only possible input I had into the team's success was contributing about one millionth of the team salary.  I didn't swing any bats, or endure six hours of physical therapy every day simply in order to get onto the field (the Dodgers are, by the way, the first team to hire a female head athletic trainer, and now the first team to apparently fire a female head athletic trainer).  So every day that I go and do a good workout for myself, I ought to feel better than any Dodger win.  Right?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Something weird at Chavez Ravine

Something weird usually happens when Gus and I see the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. For example, we were there for the last free ball giveaway, when fans protested some bad calls and ejections by throwing their free balls onto the field, leading to the last MLB forfeit. It probably won't be the last forfeit ever, but it certainly was the last free "object that is dangerous when thrown onto the field from the top deck" giveaway.

And apparently Monday's game was something out of the ordinary, with an inside-the-park triple from Puig who celebrated a home run and was still fast enough after it didn't leave the park to get to third standing up; the Cardinals' center fielded missing three routine balls, none for actual errors (yet another obsolete and useless statistic); a double-phantom double-play; Hanley Ramirez going two for four with broken ribs; and a dancing bear who, after everyone remembered that the Dodgers don't have a mascot, was ejected and banned.

Tuesday's game lacked these features. It did have a tremendous Matt Holliday home run, as well as a home run from the littlest Cardinal, a 5'9" defensive specialist. As Gus said, "he's only an inch taller than me [not true]. He's me! I just hit a home run! [it bounced off the wall; it would have been caught if Crawford had suspected he could even hit the ball that far and not positioned himself so shallowly].

It also had a balk, catcher's interference, which neither of us had seen before, and a pickoff at second, which neither of us could remember having seen in person. All of these were against the Dodgers, because it was that kind of game. The Dodgers got essential, rally-starting hits in the sixth, seventh, and ninth, each of which fired up the crowd for up to 30 seconds before the inevitable double-play. It was, all in all, a thorough, grinding, soul-crushing defeat and a very ordinary day.

After the game, I went to the bathroom and then out the top gate to the little plaza, where Gus was waiting by the giant 42. According to him, while I was gone, a TV cameraman spotted him in his red regalia (everyone had been perfectly polite to him up to that point) and started to interview him, which triggered a mini-riot of abuse that was quickly ended by hustling security guards (so happy Frank McCourt is gone). So I missed my chance to save his life by shielding him behind my blue shirt, hat, and rally towel. Even the exciting part of the day I missed. I hate baseball.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Check back later?

Virgin America's website has, ever since their big upgrade a few years ago that made booking almost impossible for several months, always been a bit unusual.  I do like the message I got today after picking a seat in front of the exit row.
Due to FAA restrictions, this seat does not currently recline.
What are we expecting to change first, FAA restrictions or a new model of Airbus?  That said, it is nice to have the warning, especially if you aren't a compulsive Seatguru user.

Prerequisite for a dream

I took down a few years ago because I was paying too much to host it, it was running on a niche technology called OpenACS, and I didn't have free the months I feared it would take to move it, upgrade it, port it, etc.  So I turned it into a read-only archive, at least for a while.  But for a year or more it's just been one page; that says it's "paused".

And before I could get it back up, I knew I wanted to invest a lot of time in doing it properly. Hosting your own website is very time-consuming when you can just use Blogger or any of dozens (probably thousands) of hosted systems. I do it as something between a personal hobby and professional homework; as a technical project manager working mostly with web applications, I want to know enough to be able to ask misguided and partially informed questions at work. OpenACS introduced me to technical concepts of automation of testing, deployment, configuration management, application version control, and so forth that still seem to be bleeding-edge questions a decade later, and I want to master some other platforms to see if anybody's caught up.

You can't just read about this stuff. You have to smash your face into electronic brick walls over and over again to really learn. If I hadn't had to manually, file by file, fix the results of OpenACS release branch merging, I wouldn't really understand what it means to say that branching is to merging as backup is to recovery: the first is easy but the second very hard, and without the second one, the first one is worthless. Before I could recover all of my old data, I would to set up a new website to put it in. Before I could set up a new website, I would need to learn a new web platform. Before I could learn a new web platform, I would need to understand distributed version control.

And before I could do all that I needed a new desk.

Calvin and Peter got me started with standing desks, and now I was ready to try a walking desk.  And I didn't want to buy one; I wanted to make one. I wanted a craft project, and I wanted to make something vaguely artistic. It ended up taking several months to finish, and it's the kind of project that's never actually going to be completely finished, but today I'm ready to show it off, and in some followup posts I'll go into more detail about how it works (and what doesn't work), how much it costs compared to a commercial walking desk, how to make it yourself, and whether or not you should try.

Without further ado, other than to thank David Gartner for his fine photography, I give you the world's first sit/stand/walk/flowerpot desk.

(All posts about the Sit/Stand/Walk/Flowerpot Desk Index

Temporary Blog

This is the first new blog post in a few years.  The archive of blog posts back to 2003 is still off-line, as are other features such as the "Songs not in 4/4 List".  But they will come back, and getting a place to post my thoughts about the process of rebuilding a website is step one.