Monthly Archives: March 2005

Johanna

Happy 21st Birthday, Johanna!

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Biographical Note: Johanna is one of my cousins on my mom’s side of the family – the daughter of my mother’s sister Christine and her husband John.

A cheap, portable digicam?

So as my regular readers know, I recently purchased a new camera|http://prwdot.org/archives/002432.html. This camera is considerably larger and less-portable than my previous camera. It certainly won’t fit in any pocket of any article of clothing that I own, and I wouldn’t want to attempt to carry it everywhere. I’ve been looking for a nice, big, not-quite-professional-grade camera like this for a while, and I’m loving it.

My previous camera, the Canon Powershot A70, was portable, but not really all that portable. Though it could fit in a pocket, it was not terribly comfortable to carry, and it was also relatively heavy, what with four AA batteries. So I never really considered it a ‘portable’ camera. In any case, I just sold it to Corey|http://corey.prwdot.org/, so it’s out of the picture (no pun intended).

So what I’m looking for now is a small, inexpensive (less than $100) camera that can do at least 640×480 resolution… the type of thing I can keep in a pocket and take everywhere, to take photos on those occasions where I don’t have the Big Kahuna tagging along. My current phone, the Sanyo SCP-8100|http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/phone.php?p=293, has a camera built in… but the quality and size of the photos leave quite a bit to be desired. They are usually muddy, out of focus, grainy, and their resolution is a lot lower than my 640×480 minimum. There are some other camera phones out there with better quality, but I don’t know about pricing.

Any suggestions?

Interviews

Michelle|http://mikao.blogspot.com/ is currently doing an installation of her extremely cool Random Interview Project, and Becky and I are two of her latest interviewees. You can read her interview questions and our responses at the following links:

Peter|http://mikao.blogspot.com/2005_03_01_mikao_archive.html#111091641804836973 Becky|http://mikao.blogspot.com/2005_03_01_mikao_archive.html#111091615795849161

Michelle picks random questions for each interview, so you get to find out some interesting stuff about us that you might not have otherwise discovered. Enjoy!

Possessed!

Last week, I finished a book that I’ve been working on since Christmas*: aaa|The Neutronium Alchemist Part 1: Consolidation|0446605174|aaa. This book is part of a science fiction saga created by Peter F. Hamilton. Hamilton has created a huge universe, with a vast array of characters, cultures, settings, technologies, and concepts. I enjoy reading science fiction books such as this for the sheer escape value of far-out science fiction. Imagine if you will, sentient, biological starships that gestate their human captains. Or nano-scale implants that can enable humans to run programs on their own nervous systems, for example to block out emotional impulses, or tactical programs that coordinate your body’s nervous and muscle response without you even needing to think. Or souls that have come back from the dead by way of a dimensional rift, and are possessing the living, endowing them with energistic abilities and bringing some of history’s most notorious personalities back to life.

That, in a nutshell, is the universe that Hamilton has created. If you’re into far-out science fiction, with lots of weird technology, aliens, etc… this is the book for you. My one complaint is that Hamilton includes too much gratuitious sex and gore in his narrative… if it was toned down, I think it would still be a great story. But I have been able to look beyond that and enjoy the rest of the fictional universe he has created.

  • It’s not a long book, and I’m not a slow reader or anything, I just don’t spend as much time on reading as I used to. These days, reading serves as a nice diversion in the middle of the work day, when I spend my 30 minute lunch break reading and eating.

Communities, on-line and in-person

In the past several years, I’ve taken the opportunity to attend meetings of a number of Boston-area special interest groups. These are groups where people interested in various specific topics meet in person to discuss whatever is on their mind. I enjoy getting to meet people in person who I’ve previously only met on-line, as well as getting to meet completely new people. I’d like to introduce you to some of those groups, and share some of my thoughts on the motivation (or lack thereof) for attending groups like this. Continue reading

Latest Reads

My train reading the last two weeks has consisted of two completely different novels.

The first was my sophomore experience with the author Adrianna Trigiani. aaa|Big Cherry Holler|0345445848|aaa did not disappoint. Trigiani writes the ordinary stories of extraordinary women. I think this is the second in a series, but I never felt as if I was coming in late in the story. We follow a year in the life of Ava Maria, Jac Mac and their daughter Etta as their relationships grow and change. Trigiani offers the reader an indepth look into life in Southwestern Virginia as well as Northern Italy.

In stark comparision to Big Cherry Holler’s easy going style, aaa|The General in His Labyrinth|1400034701|aaa was a struggle from the start. Gabriel Garcia Marquez recounts the last 6 months of Simon Bolivar’s life. General Bolivar, after being ousted from the presidency of Colombia, is taking a long slow trip out of the country with the shadow of death close at his heels.

Marquez weaves the story back and forth between the current time and flashbacks from the past. These flashbacks give the reader a look in to the General’s military conquests, interactions with other historical figures, and his former loves. Even my careful reading style found me constanly trying to figure out whether we were in the present or the past. I often had to reread passages to get my facts straight. The General was interesting as historical fiction, but I just didn’t enjoy reading it as much as I did other books by Marquez.

Hey, there’s no tunnel here!!!

Alas, I’ve been duped. There is, in fact, no Cape Cod Canal Tunnel. I drove down to visit Jeremy in Hyannis today, and on the way I thought I might as well stop and look for this tunnel I’d heard so much about. Well, there isn’t one. Shucks.* Anyway, I did manage to get some nice photos of the Sagamore Bridge|http://gallery.prwdot.org/sagamore_bridge area, and I also drove down and took some photos at Scusett Beach|http://gallery.prwdot.org/scusset_beach. I was lucky enough to get there just in time to see a huge tanker entering the Cape Cod Canal:

ggg|scusset_beach/P1000414|Tanker in the Cape Cod Canal|ggg

Pretty sweet!

  • Yes, I’m well aware that the Cape Cod Canal Tunnel bumper stickers are a joke.

Muppet Advertising

There are so many commercials out there that I find to be really horrible, so when I come across one or two that I like I look forward to seeing them over and over again.

Two that have been playing lately have a couple things in common: they are both for soda, and they both feature songs that have been sung by the Muppets. Interesting, no?

I have fallen in love with both commercials. The first is for “Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper.” I have yet to try this concoction, so I won’t speak for the flavor, but this one particular commercial is fantastic. The scene opens on a busy restaurant: A couple sits dining. The gentleman is engaged in chattering away on one topic or another. His date takes a sip of her DCVDP and the world seems to slip away as her date’s rambling melds into “mah na mah na”. The rest of the diners chime in with the obligatory “doot do do do do” right on cue! Ha! What better way to drown out someones sports ramblings. I’ll have to try it sometime!

The second commercial begain airing more recently. It is for “Coke with Lime” soda. Basically what they have done is altered the classic lyrics “put the lime in the coconut, drinkem both up” to instead say “you put the lime in the Coke, you nut, drinkem both up.” The idea is formed in a Coke lab and passed on up through management. All the while the song is playing in the background. Just to make sure that the general population got the joke, the Coke people have added a little bouncing ball lyric subtitle at the end. Classic.

Both songs can be found on the album, aaa|Muppet Hits|B00008G2FF|aaa.

Berkman Thursday Meeting

Tonight I attended the Berkman Thursday Meeting|http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/thursdays at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center|http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/home/. I had heard about the meeting a while ago through the Boston Blogger Meetup|http://blog.meetup.com/3/ group, and had wanted to attend… and tonight I finally got around to it. I invited Kellan|http://laughingmeme.org/ to come, thus killing two birds with one stone – attending a Berkman meeting, and meeting Kellan (which I’d been hoping to do since he mentioned he was going to be in Boston). Continue reading

Rushin’ Visa

Two Russian tourist visa invitations, with vouchers: $90 Two Russian tourist visa applications, with consular fees: $200 Two visa applications mailed to the Russian consulate in NYC, with individual prepaid return postage: $23 Two excited American citizens who will be in Russia within six weeks, Russian consulate willing: priceless