heliopsis: yellow daisy (Heliopsis)
2017-04-09 08:24 am

Hello again

I got a few messages recently telling me that people were following my DreamWidth account. Which surprised me, because I hadn't used it in years. I see that it's been 6 years, in fact, since my last post. It's been a busy few years--is too much, I sum up.
  1. I got married, on April 24 2014. We're coming up on our third anniversary, 7 years together.
  2. On Feb. 23 2016 I started a new job at Google, in NYC.
  3. Now we have an apartment in Manhattan and a house in Medford. I'm practically a mogul.
  4. The US elected the worst president in modern history.
  5. My husband and I have been to Cologne, Berlin, Paris, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Seattle, Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, San Francisco, Barcelona, Andorra, Madrid, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Rome, Paris (again), Panama City, Mumbai, Chennai (and I've been to Bangalore and Hyderabad), Provincetown, Saratoga Springs, Providence and New York.  I have not, however, been to me.
I kind of gave up on DW because Facebook seems to have taken over, although I still don't think facebook meets my needs well. DW is much better for long-form essays, and I find that I rarely want to share anything tersely. This is perhaps a character flaw.  Also the complications of keeping DW and LJ in sync were awkward. But I've solved that problem now! I just deleted my LJ completely, even though I had a lifetime account. A lifetime account with a user agreement that says I have to protect delicate Russian children from my homosexual self is not worth much.  Now that I don't have to worry about synchronizing anything, maybe I'll actually write something once in a while.

heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2013-04-02 06:49 am

I got engaged!

I wanted to post about this earlier, but the weekend was busy and it didn't seem like the sort of thing to post on April 1. Friday evening, Frankin proposed, and I accepted. We went to Bistro 5, and after we sat down and started looking at the menus, the waiter brought over two flutes of champagne and a Tiffany box and card. The card asked the question, and I accepted. It was sweet, and fully expected, though Frankin was nervous anyway. The box contained a lovely, practical, stainless steel ring:
Ring


We haven't set a date yet, but I'm thinking maybe this October: New England is pretty at that time of year, and not sweltering.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2013-03-09 09:19 am

Richard Thompson does it better

The last time I visited Washington, D.C. the various Smithsonian institutions had set up exhibits on the National Mall. Which was really delightful, but also got me thinking: what happens after a century of the United States of America as the world's only superpower? Will the Mall be so chock full of artifacts and statues and gewgaws from around the world, that it will resemble a grand, marble yard sale? I imagine the riches of the whole world heaped up in dusty piles...

Well, Richard Thompson imagined it, too, and better. I especially love the statue of Victimhood in Search of Closure.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2013-02-07 11:06 am

Immigration update

I had my interview yesterday with the Department of Homeland Security. They could find no fault in me, so I will become a US citizen in a few weeks, at a ceremony to be scheduled.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2012-10-17 07:12 am

There's a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B

It's roughly Earth sized, but way too close to Alpha Centauri B: the surface temperature would be hotter than lava. But if there's one planet, there could be others, and the Alpha Centauri system is only 4 light years away. It would be possible to visit there and come back, using feasible technology, over the course of a long (and relativistically lengthened) life. I find this delightful. There are 842 known exoplanets as of today, but this one makes me happier than all the rest.

This blog post sums up my feelings nicely. I find it incredibly exciting to be alive in the era when humankind discovers planets orbiting other stars. I probably won't live to see humans explore such a planet, but it delights me to know there's a (horribly inhospitable) planet so tantalizingly close.

Ad astra!
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2012-10-02 07:57 am

Is anyone competent still working at the Boston Globe?

I like to read the comics every morning with my breakfast, and I have subscribed to the Globe for twenty years for that privilege. When delivery became unreliable, I switched to a digital subscription (which confused them, poor dears. They kept pushing me to get a digital subscription, but when I finally said I wanted to switch my subscription from paper to digital, they got all flustered. Apparently they thought I would pay for *both* paper and digital, which is just—silly). So I've been reading my comics online for the past couple years, and mostly it works fine.

A minor annoyance is that certain links never worked on Sundays. Red & Rover, Bizarro, and a couple other strips were offered on the Sunday comics website, but the links always failed. Shoddy QA, but I learned to skip over those links and enjoy the rest. But when Richard Thompson ceased publication of Cul de Sac, which was the best comic strip of the past decade, it galled me to see the link on the comics page day after day with no strip to link to. So I wrote to complain. I told them that Richard Thompson's illness saddened me, and that the Globe's lack of attention to their comics page also saddened me. I told them that they should get rid of the link to the no-longer-published Cul de Sac, and they should also review their Sunday page which had many reliably broken links.

I got a reply, and the next day the Cul de Sac link was replaced with a blank spot on the comics page. A step forward, at least. But that Sunday, the comics page still had four broken links. So I catalogued the broken links and wrote another complaint, listed which ones did not work and asked them to please curate their pages better. I made the mistake, though, of starting this note with a reference to my recent communication re: Cul de Sac.

I got a reply telling me that Cul de Sac was no longer being published because the author was ill and giving me a link to a Globe article on the subject. Also, I was told that Big Nat had been added to the comics page, and wasn't that swell.

But there is no link to Big Nat from the comics page. And the response didn't mention the four other strips whose links never work. So I replied to ask them to please read the second paragraph of my note, and further to point out that the new strip was nowhere to be seen. Immediately, I got a reply:

Your recent incident update was from an email address not associated with the incident. [OK, I know how that happened.] In an effort to maintain the security of information, [security? Of my complaint about your comics page?] we cannot update the incident using this email address. [feh] If you are the incident owner and your email address has changed, or you want to be able to update the incident using this email account, please update your contact information using the following link, then resubmit your update.


and that's all. No link was provided.

To be clear, I'm not looking for a Solution to my comics problem. I can find comics online, and I tried reading my comics that way for a while; but the pages were cluttered and ugly and slow, and I had to look on several sites with a lot of distractors I didn't want. I suppose I could have written a script to extract the comics I wanted from their several sites and build a page, but really I would rather pay someone to do that for me. I thought I was paying the Globe to do that for me, but I guess they don't want my money anymore.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2012-09-04 08:05 pm

What I don't get about the race for Register of Deeds

I have done no research on this, so I don't know who anyone should vote for. The thing that gets me is, why would anyone want to be a Register? A Register is a place where information is written down, registered, for future reference. How can a person become a Register? Are they going to tattoo the information on themselves? Sharpie on their arms? This seems both uncomfortable and impractical. I suspect they mean to become the Registrar: that's the person who records information in the Register.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2012-08-12 12:45 pm

Bed frame to give away

I have an attractive, queen-size, cherry bed frame to give away. I'm giving it away because it squeaks, and I bought a new bed. Someone handier than I could probably figure out how to make it stop squeaking, but I've lived with the thing for about 15 years and I'm done with it.

Alternatively, I have a small pile of cherry lumber to give to someone who'd like to work with hardwoods. There are some odd bits of hardware you'll need to remove, but other than that it's ready to go.

Failing that, I have some firewood to give away.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2012-07-04 09:35 am

Happy Higgs Boson Day!

CERN announced this morning that they have unmistakeable evidence of a Higgs Boson. This is incredibly exciting news! I'm sure July 4 will be remembered in history. I understand the city of Boston is even having fireworks tonight.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2012-06-07 07:25 pm

Want my old TV?

I have a 27" CRT television, a little over 10 years old. Still works well, but of course it's as outmoded as an Edison Victrola. I'm in the process of replacing it with a projector, so some time in the next week it will be redundant. You can have it for free, if you'll come get it! If I don't get any takers by this weekend, I'll freecycle it; and if they don't want it, Medford will take it away for $25.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2012-01-31 03:08 pm

À Paris!

Bonjour! Je suis maintenant à l'aéroport Charles de Gaulle, attendant mon vol à Boston. Mais pourquoi suis-je en France? Et où sont les bagages?
Enough of that. F. and I flew to Paris last Thursday evening, to celebrate his birthday with his brother qui y'habite. Actually, he only has one brother, so I don't need to restrict the class of F.'s brothers to those that live in Paris, but his habitation in Paris is pertinent to our choosing to visit Paris. I had last been here for a conference when I was at MIT, at least 15 years ago; and F., almost as long. I hope to come back after fewer years, and at a warmer time of year.

Même en hiver, Paris est beau, and my French came back quickly even though F. speaks Spanish with his brother. We had a lovely time, and F. had a good visit with his brother. I spent several hours in the Louvre, and we went for a long walk around the Tour Eifel and Trocadero. We spent half a day at Versailles, which was fascinating and weird. So much effort and capital piled up in one place for the use of a handful of aristocrats. No wonder they were all beheaded.

I have eaten croissants every day, more foie gras than can really be considered sensible, and nutella for breakfast. In short, we have had a wonderful time, and tomorrow we diet. We were supposed to be in the air by now, on a direct flight to Boston expected to arrive about 3:30 this afternoon; but we were enjoying ourselves too much to bother with such mundane things as train schedules and we arrived at the airport about 5 minutes too late to check in. There was much comical to-ing and fro-ing as we got lousy advice from various sources (the worst was the self check-in terminals, which took all our information and then placidly informed us that our flight was "temporarily unavailable," suggesting that we might like to consider changing our bookings to various disastrous connecting flights for thousands of Euros. It would have been more helpful if the terminal had simply said, "you're Fucked!" and played a wah-wah sound.) but we eventually got ourselvesd booked on a flight to JFK. Thanks to free Internet access and ITA Software (by Google), I found and booked a flight on JetBlue that will get us into Boston about midnight. All in all, our sloth and incompetence has cost me around €300 (for the re-booking) and $300 (for the JetBlue flight). I am trying to focus on gratitude that this is merely an inconvenience for me, and not a disaster; we'll see how that goes when I get the credit card bill.

Still, Paris! Je reviendra.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2012-01-25 07:59 am

Children's Books You'll Never See

The Little Engine That Didn't Feel Like It
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2012-01-12 08:33 pm

Silly book meme

Te instructions say I should find the book nearest me, turn to page 45 and read the first sentence. This oracle is meant to augur my sex life, of all things, in 2012. Ahem:

“Whether you mix the dough by hand or machine, making dough always begins with mixing together the flour, water, yeast, dough starter (pre-ferment), if using one, and salt.” (The Bread Bible, Rose Levy-Beranbaum, 2003)

Thus it is written, and thus let it be done. I have no idea how, but one must not question the Oracle.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2011-12-17 01:47 pm

Solar empowered

My solar panels were activated just over a week ago, but I was too busy with the Caroling Party to post about it. On a sunny day this close to the solstice, I produce over 10kWh of electricity, and I'll produce lots more than that on the longer days of summer. There's a website where you can look at the production of my solar installation, and it's quite nifty: you can see how much power each panel is producing right now, and a time lapse of the past 24h, and track productivity in the preceding weeks and months the system has been active.

Inexplicably, the site requires a password. There's no data on this site that anyone could use, as far as I can tell. It's not like you could sign onto the site and steal the energy my panels are producing. I can't imagine why anyone but me would want to look at the site twice, so it's not even worth sharing the password, really. It's just another example of spurious "security" on the interwebz. Everything has to have a damn password, even if there's nothing to protect.

I see that there's an API reference on the site, so perhaps I can write a script to extract the super-secret information and make it public. Maybe wikileaks would like it.

Anyway, I'm pleased as punch with my new solar panels, and I'll show you the website if you're interested.

This reminds me of something. I drink a cup of Yogi tea almost every morning, and each tea bag has a little snippet of wisdom from, I suppose, the yogi. One of the snippets I see regularly is "you will feel fulfilled when you do the impossible for another." Every time I read this, I feel a bit depressed: it sounds awfully difficult. So I've decided to settle for feeling smug when I do something nice for myself. Hence the solar panels.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2011-11-28 07:30 pm

Thoughts on revenge

I had my first full day of work since the surgery today, and it went just fine, thank you. Thanksgiving weekend was lovely and restful, with a gorgeous dinner with friends on Thursday, time for gardening, cooking (I made fruitcake, vegan shortbreads, and a tarte tatin), exercise, and rest. I have a great deal to be thankful for, and I am. It occurred to me that I am living very well indeed, which makes me wonder on whom I'm getting my revenge. Whatever they did, it must have been dreadful.

On my way home this evening, I was thinking about my upcoming audition for Pride and Prejudice. There's a lot of things I could do to prepare for the audition, from reading the sides to reading the book; I have done none of it. I realized that I kind of like approaching auditions cold, and seeing what I come up with on the spur of the moment. Auditions, like revenge, are best served cold.

Which then made me wonder: if an audition is like revenge, is living well the best audition?
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2011-11-15 07:14 pm

Take my sofa… Please!

Many of you have visited my home for the Caroling Party or for post-show parties from Theatre at First. You may have sat on my sofa, a sturdy, grey-brown Jennifer Convertibles from about 2001. It unfolds into a reasonably comfortable, queen-size bed. It's been a good, sturdy sofa, but I just bought a new sofa from IKEA and I need to get rid of the old one. Oh, and I've never had pets, so it's free of scratches and allergens.

Here's a picture:


Would you like a sofa? If so, come and get it!
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2011-11-07 08:45 am

In praise of Flora

Flora is a restaurant very close to the Arlington Capitol Theatre, right on Mass Ave. It's one of my favorite restaurants, at least in part because I can practically always get a table for two there. F. and I went latent last night, and as we were enjoying our meal it occurred to me to worry: if the restaurant always has room, that must mean it's not doing enough business. So I thought I'd tell my friends how great it is.

One of the things I love about Flora is that they treat vegetables with respect. Appropriate, given then name of the place. So often I find that even very good restaurants treat vegetables as an afterthought, basically garnish. At Flora, vegetables are always fresh, beautifully prepared and thoughtfully integrated in the dish. For instance, F.'s trout came with a variety of roasted vegetables: Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, onions—which were perfectly prepared, and whose smoky flavor complemented the delicate earthiness of the fish.

One of my favorite innovations at Flora is that they offer three categories on their menu: Appetizers, "Medium Plates" and Entrées. The medium plates are not simply smaller versions of the entrées or larger appetizers, but distinct dishes in their own right. I find that an appetizer and a medium plate leaves me enough room to enjoy dessert, and their desserts are splendid. Last night, I had the glazed pork ribs with sweet potato bread pudding. Three small but meaty ribs in a sweet and sour glaze, a pretty, creamy orange pudding and a scattering of diced, roasted sweet potatoes made for an unctuously satisfying dinner. The medium plates are alittle cheaper than the entrées, too, if you want to dine well on a budget.

A third delightful aspect of Flora is that they offer a variety of mocktails, fun, non-alcoholic drinks. I like the idea of a fun mixed drink, but I find that a cocktail and a glass of wine is too much alcohol for me. So a mocktail is fun and it let's me enjoy a glass of wine, too.

I could go on about the delicious bread they bake in-house, the cozy decor and so forth, but i have a bus to catch. So, I encourage you to go to Flora next time you're looking for a night of fine dining.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2011-10-26 05:25 am

Summarizing social media

I realize I am out of step with the world. I'm supposed to keep two chat windows open at all times, send text messages and tweets continuously from my iPhone, read and update facebook and Google+ hourly and LJ/DW at least a couple times a day, but I just can't. I would rather do actual things.

But I would like to keep up with my friends. For a while, checking FB and LJ once a day sufficed, but the signal-to-noise ratio on FB is awfully low, I find, and I have largely abandoned it. I ought to be gung-ho for Google+, but I've kind of lost my enthusiasm for the whole game. I have never been able to convince myself that twitter would be a good idea for me. What I really want is a daily digest: something that scoops the whole mess, chaff and all, into a single hopper and lets me filter out what looks interesting.

Has anyone heard of such a thing? Am I the only one who'd use it?
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2011-10-22 05:31 pm

Seeking advice on a home entertainment system

I have an elderly, energy-inefficient CRT television. I don't watch much television, and disconnected the cable a while ago, but sometimes it's nice to watch a movie. And Frankin likes to unwind at the end of the day with a few minutes of broadcast TV. So I'd like to get something a little more satisfying.

The problem is that I don't really have a good spot for a television. I have lots of windows, and lots of art, and I don't want to give up either by hanging a TV as a work of art on the wall. What I'd like is to have a pull-down screen that would unscroll over one of the windows, and a projector in the ceiling, probably attached to a Mac Mini or maybe an AppleTV. That way the TV would vanish when I wasn't using it, and would be a simple pull to activate. Another option might be to install a flat-screen TV on a mount that would flip right up to the ceiling, but I haven't seen any such thing. TVs remain status symbols.

(My neighbour across the street has such a large, bright TV that I coined a new verse to an old song for him:
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a flat-screen TV?
At least 5 foot wide, so the neighbours can see!
It will light up my life, and my yard, and the street—
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a flat-screen TV.

I do not wish to emulate him)

The problem my problem is giving me is that there are many many options for projectors, and none that I have been able to actually look at in person. It makes me queasy to buy expensive electronic gadgets in the vague hope that they will satisfy me; I'd like to at least see what the projection looks like. And I'd like to talk with someone who knows something; but who would that be?

If you know a place where I could get help with this, or if you are such a knowledgeable person, and particularly if you can help me discern what device(s) I want to attach to the projector, please let me know.
heliopsis: yellow daisy (Default)
2011-10-09 02:16 pm

Mission trip to Occupy Boston

I heard about Occupy Wall Street through the news, and the Occupy Boston protest through the Globe and WBUR. This feels important to me, and I decided I wanted to do something to help—but camping in downtown Boston was not it. I discussed it with the Deacons at First Church Somerville, and got support but no firm plans. (Well, our minister was planning to take her kids, and some donations, down on Friday.) so then I sent a note to the church mailing list, announcing my plan to head down after church today. That got a bit more attention: in particular, the church admin sent me a link to a Google spreadsheet listing what they need. In the end, Harold Jones joined me, and Thom Whittemore donated some reusable plates. I had a bunch of reusable, plstic plates and plastic cutlery from my party supply as well. Harold and I stopped at Goodwill in Davis and picked up all the comforters and blankets they had: that set me back a whopping $50, then we took the T down to South Station. The protest is pretty obvious, once you step out of the red line station: bunch of tents and signs huddled on the ground in the middle of traffic and enormous buildings. This was, if I'm not mistaken, where the Boston Horticultural Society was supposed to build a botanic garden, but failed to organize themselves or anyone else. I think this was a better use of the space. It was messy, but organized and the young people in the camp were uniformly polite and pleasant. It was easy to spot the Logistics tent, where a young man thanked us for the blankets, and pointed us to the Food tent to drop off the plates and utensils. At the food tent, they were grateful for everything and seemed to have a plentiful supply of muffins and peanut butter, among other things. Harold and I then made a loop though the camp to absorb the atmosphere (messy, but earnest and sweet-natured) and then Frankin called. He had had a practice with his swim team this morning, and was waiting to pick me up by South Station. Since it was just Harold and me, Frankin gave him a ride home, too.

All in all, it was an easy and pleasant experience, and I feel like i'm on the right side of history (by standing on the left side of politics, but what else is new?) I encourage you to check the Google spreadsheet and take down what yu can to help.