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2004


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31 Dec 2004

Another year of battles between the forces of niceness and goodness and the forces of evil and rottenness. I will save further blithering for 2005, and instead merely remind you to give to the folks who need it in South Asia.

23 Dec 2004

The Catalano House roof is now due for resurrection as the "Pavilion for the Court of North Carolina" at NCSU. (That's court as in courtyard, not court as in judges and shysters.) The plans look pretty swanky; hideous anti-clambering devices are nowhere to be found.

27 Nov 2004

Let us give thanks for the French 75 (also the French 95, pumpkin pie, strawberry/rhubarb pie, French roast coffee, cranberry/ginger sauce, stir-fried spinach, noodle/mushroom/cabbage salad, red-cooked pork with frizzled ginger, the state of North Carolina and the commonwealth of Kentucky).

16 Nov 2004

Speaking of the scarring of Dorton Arena: note the completely unnecessary lettering recently affixed to the building. The typeface is the Art Deco-inspired Avenida. What's an Art Deco typeface doing on a Modernist building? More importantly, why doesn't the historic designation prevent this kind of (possibly well-intentioned) vandalism?

15 Nov 2004

The Catalano House is still dead, but now NC State plans to build the Catalano Pavilion: an open space sheltered by a hyperbolic paraboloid roof. I'm ambivalent. Sure, it's nice that a criminally neglected piece of Raleigh architectural history will be reincarnated—but it's coming back to life in a decidedly less-evolved form. I can only imagine what kind of hideous contraptions they're going to build to keep folks from climbing on it; Dorton Arena is scarred with ridiculous, out of place fencework that's there only because some people are stupid enough to try and climb on the roof. Thanks, stupid people!

6 Nov 2004

I caught the latest virus from Christopher:

"This watch has been in outer space!"

Both boys gazed out into the forest as the leaves and the sunlight and the occasional ruin of a cinderblock house or a rusted tower flashed by.

One day a pair of assassins arrived from another place, from a kingdom beyond the great forest.

If you don't move, they can't get you.

It was another hour before Salli strode forth, her wrist covered in butterfly bandages, her hand aloft and immobile, like the Statue of Liberty.

3 Nov 2004

So, here we are, watching the Unpleasantness unfold on TV. Then a Campbell's soup commercial comes on, exhorting: "turn your soup into a taco." OK! Hell, yeah! I am all for turning this soup into a taco! When life gives you soup, turn it into a taco! Presto, change-o, taco! Alchemists might have claimed to transmute lead into gold, but none of them changed their soup into a taco!

30 Oct 2004

Warning: geekery ahead. Since the advent of OS X, I've been thinking my next computer will be a Mac. My latest experience with Microsoft has only strengthened that thought. My old Intellimouse Explorer finally gave up the ghost. Instead of a Microsoft product I put up with, it was a Microsoft product I actually liked: it fit my hand, the controls operated smoothly, the buttons were in the right places. I can't buy the latest version, though, because now Intellimouse Explorer only supports Windows 2000 and Windows XP. So I go to Best Buy and get an Intellimouse Optical. The buttons and scroll wheel take a ton of force to actuate, the whole affair is too small for my hand, but at least it supports Windows 98. Except, when I move the mouse quickly, the pointer stutters and skips. I check the manual, search the Web, read the help file, find nothing of use. The help file tells me I get ninety days of free support, though, so I call up Microsoft. No surprise, the front-line tech is in India, and she spends several minutes asking me name, address, phone number, email, etc. "for the database." Then I recite the product ID number from the bottom of the mouse and finally (after repeating the numbers a few times for her) she tells me the Intellimouse Optical is obsolete and no longer supported. I mention that the help file says I get ninety days of free support after the date of purchase. She puts me on hold to go and hunt for the answer to this. She comes back, with an explanation that's no explanation at all, repeating that this is an obsolete product, no longer supported, the end. I mention purchasing it the day before at Best Buy (not a place known for dead stock), but she has no answer for this. Of course she doesn't, she's in India reading off of a script. I ask to speak to a manager, and she transfers my call but only after telling me I'll probably be on hold for at least thirty minutes. In the meantime, I've experimented with the mouse driver settings and discovered that it's the acceleration feature (which worked fine with my old mouse) causing the problem. So I disable that, and hang up, not wanting to spend the time or pay the long distance fees. No more Microsoft for me, thanks.

29 Oct 2004

CrashedHardDriveCon 2004 sent a lot of fonts to the Great Beyond. I didn't back them up, so now I'm down to using the ones that came either with my latest printer or with some old Microsoft programs. So on-screen it's Verdana for sans, Georgia for serif, and Andale Mono for monospace. For printing, it's Lucida Console for monospace, Univers and Antique Olive for sans, Georgia again for serif (even if it is more of a screen font, it's the least hideous serif I've got now). My printer driver CD has a bunch of other typefaces; ones I find interesting or useful include: Folio, Helvetica, Kabel, Bell Gothic, Gill Sans and Joanna. The two biggies on my wishlist right now are the original Futura with old-style figures, and Electra.

28 Oct 2004

We end this Cocktails of the Ivy League boondoggle at Harvard. The Savoy Hotel Cocktail Book describes it thusly: 2 dashes Angostura bitters, 1 dash syrup, ½ brandy, ½ Italian vermouth; shake with cracked ice and strain. Patrick Gavin Duffy specifies the same ingredients—stirred, not shaken (Fred Powell duplicates this recipe). Esquire's is similar, but typically terse and weird (two-fifths of a jigger?): dash of orange bitters, 2/5 jigger brandy, 3/5 Italian vermouth; stir and fill with chilled siphon water. Playboy changes it up, using grenadine to maintain the crimson color: 1 ½ oz. brandy, ½ oz. dry vermouth, 1 tsp. grenadine, 2 tsp. lemon juice; shake with cracked ice and strain. Finally, Charles Schumann equates the Harvard with a Brandy Manhattan: ¾ oz. vermouth rosso, 1 oz. brandy, dash Angostura bitters; stir with cracked ice and strain.

27 Oct 2004

Princeton University is right there in Princeton, New Jersey, but the Princeton cocktail is all over the map. The Savoy Hotel Cocktail Book recipe is as follows: 2 dashes orange bitters, 1/3 port wine, 2/3 Tom gin; stir with cracked ice and strain, add a slice of lemon peel (Fred Powell's recipe is similar, and neither specifies the type of port to use). Patrick Gavin Duffy's version is completely different, with an awful citrus/olive collision: 2 dashes lime juice, 1 jigger gin, 1 jigger French vermouth; stir with cracked ice and strain; add an olive. Playboy's is close to this: 1 ¼ oz. gin, ¾ oz. dry vermouth, ½ lime juice; shake with cracked ice and strain. Esquire streamlines the whole affair into a highball: a dash of orange bitters, 2/3 jigger Tom gin; stir (no ice?!), fill with seltzer. The version in Charles Schumann's American Bar (1995) is a brandy cocktail: ¾ oz. white port, 1 oz. brandy, dash of orange bitters; stir with cracked ice and strain. Good luck on finding Old Tom gin, a now-rare sweetened gin that's different from the commonly available dry version.

24 Oct 2004

The Cornell Special, from The Savoy Cocktail Book: ¼ gin, ¼ Benedictine, ¼ lemon juice, ¼ lithia water; stir with cracked ice and strain. I'm guessing you could substitute mineral water, but lithia water is still available in some places. Patrick Gavin Duffy lists this exact same recipe, and includes another for a non-special Cornell cocktail: ½ jigger dry gin, 3 dashes maraschino liqueur, 1 egg white; shake with cracked ice and strain. That's a lot of egg white; a later recipe in Fred Powell's 1971 book ups the gin to a full jigger. Finally, Esquire's 1949 version of a Cornell is a completely different bird, basically a wet martini: ½ French vermouth, ½ gin.

20 Oct 2004

What if you found an abandoned trombone case packed with cassette tapes? What if some of those tapes were music, and others were the voice of someone telling a story? What would you do? If you were David Wilson, you'd transcribe the tapes and put them on-line as a weblog. This is truly weird.

19 Oct 2004

The Yale cocktail, from The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock (1930): 3 dashes orange bitters, 1 dash Angostura bitters, 1 glass dry gin; shake with cracked ice and strain, add a little siphon water then squeeze lemon peel on top. Later Yale recipes retain the gin base but switch up the other ingredients: Patrick Gavin Duffy adds dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and gum syrup, but subtracts the bubbly water. Esquire's Handbook specifies a half and half mixture of Tom gin and Italian (sweet) vermouth plus orange bitters and seltzer. Fred Powell swaps sugar syrup for the gum syrup. Note that there's a difference between gum syrup (gomme) and simple syrup, then go make some yourself. Also note that maraschino liqueur has little or no connection to maraschino cherries, then go buy a bottle.

18 Oct 2004

The Columbia cocktail from Esquire's Handbook for Hosts (1949) is basically a rye toddy: mix 1 jigger rye, 1 piece lemon peel, ½ lump of sugar, then fill up the glass with hot water. By the 1970s, the Columbia had changed to a rum drink. Fred Powell's 1971 edition of Bartender's Standard Manual says: mix 1 jigger rum, ½ jigger raspberry syrup, 1/3 jigger lemon juice; shake with cracked ice and strain. The flowerier rendition from Playboy's Host & Bar Book by Thomas Mario (1971) is: 1½ oz. light rum, ½ oz. raspberry syrup, ½ oz. lemon juice, 1 tsp. kirschwasser; shake with cracked ice and strain into a sugar-frosted glass. Bleah.

17 Oct 2004

Triangle denizens: if you're looking for Horses, it's available at Internationalist Books and at Rebus Works.

15 Oct 2004

Some of these Ivy League cocktail recipes attempt to replicate school colors: Brown University's colors are brown and red. While my classic guides offer no recipes for a Dartmouth cocktail or a Penn cocktail, there are some Dartmouth recipes floating around on the Web. These call for Midori to give the drink a greenish tint (their colors being green and white), and are therefore not classic cocktails in any sense (the sickly sweet Midori having been introduced in the 1970s).

14 Oct 2004

Brown University was founded in 1764 as the College of Rhode Island. As a writing avoidance maneuver, possibly even a life avoidance maneuver, I've been thinking about cocktails named after the Ivy League schools, as described in classic cocktail books (as opposed to Internet databases). Here's one, from the 1949 Esquire's Handbook for Hosts:

Brown University

½ bourbon
½ French vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

[The book provides no further mixing instructions.]

2 Oct 2004

Several more folks have reviewed or mentioned that Horses book (as opposed to this Horses album). I try not to care too much either way about good or bad reviews, but—as I mentioned previously—it's a good sign when folks seem to be reading the same stories that you thought you wrote.

17 September 2004

Why I haven't been posting lately: because I went straight from the great happiness of Weddingcon to the great sadness of CrashedHardDriveCon. Still pawing through the wreckage, but life continues on in its usual wayward manner. At the gym today, the satellite radio station played two Ramones songs back-to-back: "Cretin Hop" and "I Don't Care." Who knows? Maybe they'll play the entirety of Rocket to Russia the next time I go in.

28 Aug 2004

Belated Web Bunny trip to the un-frozen North report: Barb has covered much of this. I'll just add that Andy & Robin were great hosts at the Museum of Science, one of the best places to go if you have the equivalent of an All Access pass (thanks, Andy). Kelly & Gavin were great hosts at Small Beer Press World Domination Headquarters and German Boardgames Parlor. Of course. We did not spot Bucky's grave during our trek through the quite scenic Mount Auburn Cemetery. We did enjoy, among many other potables, some 16 year-old A.H. Hirsch bourbon.

22 Aug 2004

Slowly, slowly, catching up. A few weeks back Susanne & Smokey were in town, and then later Marti was in town. Marti has a time machine. I have a time machine, too: this computer I'm into which I'm tippy-typing words. It started life in 1996 as a Gateway Pentium-133 machine with 16 megabytes of RAM (twice the recommended amount). Since then I've Frankensteined it so many times the only original component left is the Trinitron monitor … a bunch more RAM, four processors, three sets of speakers, three or four hard drives, three motherboards, three cases, two power supplies, way too many keyboards, several optical drives and graphics boards and sound boards, etc. But the bits, the bits are all still there, lurking in the dark crevices of the latest disk.

7 Aug 2004

Submitted w/o comment, a recent snapshot of the most popular searches on Friendster:

  1. thong gallery
  2. who has viewed my friendster profile
  3. hot guys in underwear
  4. who has viewed my profile?
  5. who has viewed my friendster profile?
  6. can i see who has viewed my profile
  7. butch femme test
  8. how can i know who viewed my friendster profile?
  9. who has viewed my profile? friendster
  10. how to dress emo

1 Aug 2004

Favorite Led Zeppelin song twenty years ago: heck, I don't know. Misty Mountain Hop? Maybe not. Favorite Led Zeppelin song these days: No Quarter. Most definitely. Like the ancient drunkard says, Selah.

18 Jul 2004

Spotted an American Kestrel on our hike today, probably a Great Blue Heron too. Strange Mozilla Firefox behavior continues; I re-upped my car registration on the NC DMV site and, even though I'd selected no such thing, the confirmation page added ten bucks to the fee and announced that they were sending me a new special license plate. (I had to use the plain ol' telephone to get this cleared up.) Turns out there are a bunch of special plates you can get in NC: Save the Sea Turtle, Carolina Panthers, lots of different military and university plates. There's also the extremely odd "Tobacco Heritage" plate, and one for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. With, of course, the Confederate battle jack (instead of the more accurate Confederate national flag). Ugh.

16 Jul 2004

The ice cubes bobbing slowly in the effervescent ruby fluid are oddly comforting. Possibly this has something to do with growing up in the state where they invented Cheerwine.

15 Jul 2004

Allez, Tyler.

12 Jul 2004

Wow. Don't ever try to book air travel on Travelocity if you're using Mozilla Firefox. Firefox takes a dirt nap from which there is no awakening, but only after taking your reservation and blocking out seats you've chosen. Is it Travelocity's fault, or Mozilla's? Does it matter?

10 Jul 2004

Went and toured the Dwell Home today, in the mind-numbing heat. (Turns out the house is right up the road from the Carnivore Preservation Trust.) It's supposed to be "affordable and available." After seeing the house and the site I'm skeptical about this claim, but hey, if it really is affordable and available, great.

6 Jul 2004

A house of the future not yet torn down: Xanadu. Not a hyperbolic paraboloid but rather a cluster of polyurethane globs. Evidently a hit with urban archaeologists.

4 Jul 2004

AP Headline: "Cheney Fires Back in Debate Over Values." This is the same guy who said "go fuck yourself" to Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor and never apologized. So I guess unapologetically saying "go fuck yourself" is now considered one of the perfectly fine core conservative family values here in the USA. Your mileage may vary.

24 Jun 2004

This is history, nor are we out of it. Not just something that happened one-thousand or two-hundred years ago, not just made by great men, history is all around us. Which is why I love odd little sites like Hidden Raleigh.

19 Jun 2004

Until further notice, I hereby proclaim David J. Schwartz as the Most Perspicacious Gentleman on the Internet. Actually, in all seriousness, it's nice to hear when folks read the same stories that you wrote. When somebody gets it.

10 Jun 2004

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. Case in point, Joe Cox's Color Wall, a beautiful light sculpture in NC State's main library. It's an ingenious system of 23 timer-activated colored lamps that project onto a series of wall-mounted black slats. The lightbeams mix to form a shifting mural made up of hundreds of bands of color. For years I drove by the library and wondered why the Color Wall wasn't activated, figuring that it still worked but they didn't leave it on every night. Actually, it's been busted for quite some time, but now restoration is (slowly) underway.

9 Jun 2004

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has released their latest list of most endangered historic places in the U.S.

1 Jun 2004

The world's only feminist science fiction convention was great. Great fun. Air travel with United Express was not great fun, but on the way up we were rescued in Chicago by the Fortress of Words mobile unit (now equipped with satellite radio). Gavin placed a chapbook in my paw when we met him on the streets of Madison; I am extremely pleased with how it looks, how it turned out. I ended up manning the Small Beer Press table quite a bit, selling those and the new LCRW and the new Say... and the new Sean Stewart novel and various other things. High points? As usual, Ellen Klages was hilarious as the Tiptree auctioneer. The New Wave YA Novelists reading (Justine Larbalestier, Chris Barzak, Gwenda Bond, Scott Westerfeld) was great, each novel segment very different but all of them very effective. By all accounts, the reading I did with Fowler and Kessel went really well, too. Karen read the sf con sequence from The Jane Austen Book Club, I read from "Drifting" and John read from his new story "The Snake Girl." What else? Jim Minz had some tasty Van Winkle bourbon at one of his parties. The Ratbastards had some pleasantly silly karaoke at their party. I probably should've made an effort to meet more folks, but I was happy to hang out with the people I already know to greater and lesser degrees. Best quote overheard on the street: "America the Beautiful? More like America the Sick Ugly Pig." Dealers Room quote that made me laugh loudly and possibly rudely: "Fairies are way cooler than dragons."

26 May 2004

So, this chapbook of five stories I wrote shambles toward physical existence. Actually as I type this, there are some physically existing copies, but only in Gavin & Kelly's office in Northampton, not in my hot little hands. My hot little hands will have to wait until Wiscon. You can learn a lot more about this artifact at the Small Beer Press site.

22 May 2004

"The American enthusiasm for uniformity is an odd phenomenon, especially in a nation whose citizens pride themselves on their spirit of rugged individualism." Hear, hear!

21 May 2004

From the Stuff-Kelly-Would-Probably-Like Department: Carl D'Alvia makes oddly textured resin sculptures of monkeys and of abstract objects; he was in a show at Lump here last year. More recently, the craft-tacular street fair known as Artsplosure offered up one booth of fairly interesting stuff, brushwork prints by Pui-Lan Cockman. Unfortunately, Ms. Cockman's page doesn't have any samples that show her superdeformed take on traditional Chinese plant and animal watercolors.

19 May 2004

My favorite inappropriate usage of quotation marks, from an actual bumper sticker:

"God" Bless America

18 May 2004

Submitted with little or no comment: a Matsumoto house in Chapel Hill, evidently now considered a fixer-upper, is on the block for 345,000 U.S. dollars. Currently in heavy rotation at Butnertronix HQ: Bonnie "Prince" Billy sings Greatest Palace Music, Mission of Burma's ONoffON, and The Flesh Eaters' Miss Muerte. Everything old is new again.

12 May 2004

Most folks should probably use fewer rather than more typefaces. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But having just proofed a certain document set in Minion and Mona Lisa (and it looked great!), typefaces are once again on my mind. Linotype has a groovy random font finder gizmo. Are you feeling lucky, typography punk?

5 May 2004

Sometimes good things do happen to good people. For instance, these three people: Karen Fowler is getting great reviews for her great book The Jane Austen Book Club. My pal (since 1971!) Anna Holloway is now the official curator of the USS Monitor Center, because she's cool like that (and more importantly, smart like that). And lookee, Christopher Rowe writ a wonderful story called "The Voluntary State."

27 Apr 2004

Probably the last blind taste test for a while ... I pitted the winners of previous heats against two of Jim Murray's favorite bourbons, and threw in the bottle of 15 year-old Noah's Mill (unavailable in NC) that Gavin and Kelly gave me too. No point in having the George T. Stagg in there, because as we all know it's the best whiskey in the world. As it turned out, I ranked them in order of age. This pretty much cements Elijah Craig as my current top bang-for-buck bourbon.

  1. Noah's Mill
  2. Elijah Craig 12 Years Old
  3. Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve Aged 10 Years
  4. Knob Creek Aged 9 Years
  5. Evan Williams Aged 7 Years

24 Apr 2004

A roll of 35mm PolaPan sits in the fridge, dated to expire in December of 1992. How many apartments have I carted this roll of film through? (4.) Why don't I just throw it away? (Because I'm a packrat.) Is it still usable? (No idea.) What should I photograph with it? (Suggestions welcome.)

19 Apr 2004

NC Literary Festival 2004, final tally, my POV. The "New Strange" panel went well. Andy counted 72 attendees. Kelly Link read from "The Hortlak." Andy Duncan read from "Lincoln in Frogmore." Dale Bailey read from "Death and Suffrage." I read from "Drifting." Fearless moderator John Kessel read from "Man." Later I bought a book of Vietnamese folk poetry translated by John Balaban and got some swanky free Staedtler pens with my purchase. Also scored at the used booksale benefitting the NCSU library: the AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C. and Aluminum in Modern Architecture, Volume 1. Karen Fowler read from The Jane Austen Book Club and from her Austen essay in The Believer. A good time was had by all. You have bought The Jane Austen Book Club, haven't you?

15 Apr 2004

Gwenda's already covered the pertinent details of Hickory Roadtrip 2004. So, how about ten random songs from the Winamp playlist? It's, like, a meme or something.

4 Apr 2004

When in doubt, tear it down. That's the greedhead attitude and now the YMCA attitude too. This building is, of course, the real place where the fictional Barney Fife stayed on his fictional trips to real Raleigh. And while it's nice that the YMCA is changing with the times, so that you don't have to be M (or even C or Y) to use the place, it's sad that they can't find a way to keep the structure and the dorms.

2 Apr 2004

Jim came over and he and Barb and I sampled the whisky Geoff brought me from Japan. The Hibiki 17 Year Old blend was interestingly floral, and the Suntory Pure Malt Yamazaki 12 Year Old was outstanding. Obviously from the single malt Scotch tradition, but more delicate. Of course, none of this matters, because when's the next time Japanese whisky is going to show up on the doorstep?

30 Mar 2004

"Songs carry emotional information and some transport us back to a poignant time, place or event in our lives. It's no wonder a corporation would want to hitch a ride on the spell these songs cast and encourage you to buy soft drinks, underwear or automobiles while you're in the trance. Artists who take money for ads poison and pervert their songs. It reduces them to the level of a jingle, a word that describes the sound of change in your pocket, which is what your songs become." —Tom Waits

25 Mar 2004

"Why is it so difficult for so many people to listen? Why do they start talking when there's something to hear?" —John Cage

24 Mar 2004

Lately there has been some entertainment. Also some infotainment. The good stuff includes The American Astronaut, a "musical space Western." Evidently it's just now getting out to places like here in East Nowhere. Don't read about it, just go see it if you can. Netflix sent The Old Grey Whistle Test on DVD (thanks to Friendly Bill Ryan for noting the existence of this artifact). There's plenty of dross. Actually, it's mostly dross, but still worth watching if only for the quite topical Randy Newman song "Political Science," Clem Burke's drumming, and Glen Buxton's playing.

19 Mar 2004

Artforms of Nature: probably linked to death by now, but too beautiful to pass up (found on that weblog started by Mark Frauenfelder).

16 Mar 2004

Is your flag hot or not?

14 Mar 2004

Nice quadruplet of links in this Metafilter post on U.S. Whiskey, with the usual blend of smarts and idiocy in the ensuing comments.

9 Mar 2004

This stuff should just work. At the very least, there should be big warning signs on the product boxes. "The power consumption of this USB flash drive means you won't be able to use it with your subnotebook computer unless you're plugged into AC!" (Making this USB drive pretty much useless.) "OS X, while quite swanky, doesn't support your digital camera!" (Even though the ancient and hideous Windows PC can talk to the camera no problem.) Really, this stuff should just work. But it doesn't. Welcome to the fundamental broken-ness of all things.

8 Mar 2004

Another one of Raleigh's historic modernist houses is up for sale: the Ritcher House. For 439,500 U.S. dollars. (The county assesses the value at a more reasonable $216,909.) The AIA guide map to Raleigh calls the house "an experiment in low-cost, modular design." I love the Ritcher House, but since when is 439,500 bucks for a 1,900 square foot house considered low-cost?

20 Feb 2004

Another round of taste tests of the more inexpensive bourbons. Now it's time to start pitting them against the top-line stuff. This batch was very similar, very difficult to rank. The Eagle Rare was clearly the least interesting of the bunch, though.

  1. Evan Williams Aged 7 Years
  2. Wild Turkey Aged 8 Years
  3. Buffalo Trace
  4. Wild Turkey Rare Breed
  5. Eagle Rare 10 Years Old

18 Feb 2004

What's been happening at Butnertronix Infosystems HQ? Hmm. We caught the Contemporary Art and Flight show at the NC Museum of Art. Turns out an old old friend, Kara Hammond, had several works in the show. Go Kara go. Spent a lot of time with Wilton, watching bad Robert Vaughn movies, watching the Daytona 500, having dinner with an interesting couple of his ex-students and also with Kessel and Judith Grossman. Go Wilton go. (Got an impromptu pep talk from one of the ex-students. Go me go.) Also: saw the Rosebuds Sunday night but missed them Monday because the show sold out; ate tasty Asian snacks at Lantern Restaurant; listened to tales of Mexico told by Ms. Bond and Mr. Rowe.

13 Feb 2004

For the insane completist: the fine folks at Small Beer Press have put up an MP3 of me reading the devil story.

8 Feb 2004

Folks who write thrilling space adventures set in our solar system will probably find the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature useful. Me, I just like that there's a crater named Lolita on Eros.

7 Feb 2004

Bartleby the Scrivener, as auto-summarized by Microsoft Word:

It was Bartleby.

"Bartleby!" "Bartleby!"

"Bartleby," I roared.

Bartleby was there.

It was Bartleby.

I am pained, Bartleby. "Bartleby!"

Ah, Bartleby!

4 Feb 2004

Could spend way too much time browsing the wonderful Midnight Society site (New Jersey's Tristate Area Historical Society of the Strange and Unusual). Lotsa potential story ideas there, although they're probably best left to folks like Jeff Ford (New Jersey's Premier Writer of the Strange and Unusual).

27 Jan 2004

Further tedious technology: got a new hard drive for the Windows desktop PC. Decided to use the accompanying Data Lifeguard program to copy the old drive, rather than the usual round of FDISK and XCOPY. That was a mistake. Data Lifeguard tries to hide complexity from the user, but it fails—it suggests incorrect jumper settings, doesn't copy crucial system files, etc. After way too much time I got the files copied onto a bootable new drive, using a combination of the Windows version of Data Lifeguard, the DOS version of Data Lifeguard, plus good ol' FDISK and FORMAT and XCOPY. I know this would've been seamless on a Mac, if only because Macs don't have to handle so many different possible permutations of hardware and software.

26 Jan 2004

Celebrated the wintry weather with a rye tasting last night: Jim Beam, Sazerac and Old Rip Van Winkle. It's almost pointless to rank these, because they're all very good, very different and very complex. In particular, the Beam is light and lavender-y (and a great bargain) compared to the other two. Some folks would put the Sazerac far above the Van Winkle; to my taste buds, it's essentially a tie. That said, the rankings in the blind test were:

  1. Old Rip Van Winkle 13 Years Old Family Reserve Rye
  2. Sazerac Rye 18 Years Old
  3. Jim Beam Rye

25 Jan 2004

Typography porn: Robert Wakeman's electronic type wall. Mrs. Eaves (which some designers would say is overused and unsuitable for body text) is nice.

17 Jan 2004

You should put the upcoming Karen Fowler novel and the new Turchi/Barrett-edited anthology on your wishlist, if they're not there already.

14 Jan 2004

One of the saddest headlines I've ever read was: "House of Future Torn Down."

11 Jan 2004

Warning: tedious technology tidbits. I like Mac OS X. I expect Windows to be a crash-prone buggy POS, whereas Macs usually just work. Barb got OS X 10.3 for her PowerBook, and while it's working nicely now, it was way more frustrating than it needed to be to migrate from OS 9.0.2. We carefully explained our situation (in detail) to three different Apple Store employees; all assured us that the Panther upgrade would work automagically. 129 U.S. dollars later, Panther installs (with no complaints) and promptly loses all Internet Explorer bookmarks and renders the OS 9.0.2 System unbootable. The bookmarks were still on the drive, as Bookmarks.html, just (suddenly) in the wrong place. We copied them into the correct place (why couldn't the Panther upgrade do this?) and, because we'd already run Safari once and thus it mistakenly thought it had already imported the correct IE bookmarks, I dug around and found out how to enable the Safari debug menu and then re-imported the IE bookmarks there.

Getting Outlook Express mail in OS 9 imported to Mail in OS X was much more of a hassle. Again, the Apple Store folks assured us it would be seamless, and the Panther upgrade software didn't complain either during installation ... until we tried to do the import in Mail, and then it complained that the old System (the "Classic environment") needed to be OS 9.1 or greater. (Sidenote: why does Mail even have to run Outlook Express to do the import? Why can't it just understand the Outlook Express mailbox format and read the data itself?) The Panther upgrade had rendered OS 9 unbootable; the machine (which had worked in OS 9 perfectly before) would freeze on the Happy Mac. Finally (skipping a lot of iterations here where we unsuccessfully tried to boot and upgrade OS 9) we procured an OS 9.2.2 CD (thanks, Geoff), booted to that CD, and did a "clean" install (how clean can it be, if it ensures that you'll have yet another System folder floating around on the machine where all you want to do is import some damn mail?).

Now Outlook Express would run again, but once again the upgrade had misplaced the proper files, so it had no clue where Barb's old mail was. I dug around Microsoft's site, found the names and locations of the pertinent files, and once again copied them to the proper place manually. Finally finally finally Mail was able to import the Outlook Express messages.

Insanely great? Maybe, but also insanely grating at times.

8 Jan 2004

To use up some of the tangerines I brought back from Florida, I copped the Tangeriki recipe and altered it to use ingredients I have around the apt, and created the...

Sunshine Skyway

3 ounces freshly squeezed tangerine juice
1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 tsp. Rose's lime juice
1 tsp. Hoppe orange bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters
1 dash grenadine

Shake with cracked ice and strain into a wineglass filled with ice cubes.

6 Jan 2004

My girlfriend-at-the-time used to live in the same apartment building as Lee Harvey Oswald's cutout. I never saw the guy, but I walked by his door (he lived in the basement) every day for months. The apartment building is gone now, perfectly good housing torn down to make way for yet another downtown parking lot. The Raleigh Call is one more weird sliver of history floating around us.

2 Jan 2004

Another blind taste test (from a few days back) ... Christopher suggested adding some inexpensive bourbons into the mix, so our combatants in this heat were: Maker's Mark, Old Charter Proprietor's Reserve, McAfee's Benchmark, Knob Creek, and Jim Beam. The results look about right to me, although some folks might rank the Beam over the Benchmark for complexity; I found the Benchmark smooth and citrus-y, while the Beam tasted like varnish. (Not that I've ever tasted varnish.)

  1. Knob Creek Aged 9 Years
  2. Maker's Mark (Red Wax Seal)
  3. Old Charter Proprietor's Reserve 13 Years Old
  4. McAfee's Benchmark
  5. Jim Beam

1 Jan 2004

Dr. Lucky kill stats: Barb 2, Gavin 1, Kelly 0, Richard 0. Happy New Year.

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