Friday, December 30, 2005

More Stuff

Okay, so I'm blogging while lying in bed. I'm doing this even though it's uncomfortable because Kristi bought me a Toshiba laptop for birthday/Christmas/Hanukkah.

I don't want to sound ungrateful -- really, I'm not ungrateful, I think this is an unbelievable present, all the more so because she hates the time I spend on the computer -- but blogging while lying in bed? No big deal. It's more comfortable in a chair.

I have to admit, though, I'm really looking forward to sitting on the front porch some Saturday morning this spring, with the computer and a cup of coffee. Maybe not as nice as Kirk and Kassia have it, with Mount Wilson practically in their backyard, but still -- for me, that'll be as close to paradise as I'm going to get here.

I'm not going to list the other gifts I received, mostly because it's an abundance of riches that I really don't deserve. I'm grateful for every last one of 'em, though.

Last night we got several inches of snow -- the warm, sticky kind that comes off the shovel in a big clump instead of blowing back in your face. The perfect-for-snowballs-and-snowmen kind. We'll probably be playing today. Emma got a snowboard from Kristi's parents, and this seems like too good an opportunity to waste; we'll likely take her to the hill behind Highland Park library for some fun. She can fall down in the snow while Kristi pastes me with a snowball or three.

More later.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Just making sure this still works. :)

Recently finished Dan Simmons' "Ilium," loaned to me by Scooter. A great read, even if (like me) you've never read the "Iliad". I also have many, many unanswered questions (such as exactly when/where the Trojan war is happening in the book); luckily, I'm first in line for the next copy of the sequel, "Olympos," returned to the Saint Paul library, and I'm looking forward to that like I haven't looked forward to a book in a while. I sure hope it has answers.

While I'm waiting, I'm reading Steven Levitt's "Freakonomics," on recommendation of Cyn. It's a breezy read, and interesting. I'm uncomfortable with the thought that its breeziness makes many of its conclusions feel unsupported, but it's certainly providing food for thought.

Yesterday we all went to see "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe." There were a number of additions -- the scene on the fracturing ice, the scene up the tree, Edmund meeting Tumnus in the dungeon, etc. -- but they tended to serve the plot and pacing well, and there was little if anything important omitted to accomodate them. I'd like to gripe about the expansion of a single-page battle near the very end of the book into the pulse-pounding climax of the movie, but I honestly can't; I'd rather think that Lewis would wish he'd written it that way. So, on the whole, kudos to Disney and the filmmakers for doing a pretty good job of getting it right.

Happy holidays to all. I hope the gifts you receive are the ones you want.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

As I mentioned earlier, Emma's bed was on the way out. And now it is out. We'll miss it. It's cute, especially when it's actually been made (a rarity).

And here's the new, "big girl" bed:

We were going to send the country cottage bed to California for Emma's cousin Tatum, but apparently her dad is going to build her a bed. So instead we went looking for a family that needed a bed, and we apparently found one.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sean Will Kill Me For Saying This ...

... but if you want help with your Ubuntu problems, consult a Canadian hippie. In comments, he pointed me to a link that resolved my Wacom issues. Interestingly, I had the tablet configured correctly; the problem was that the GIMP disables pressure settings by default, which I should have thought of. But I didn't, because I'm stupid. The Canadian hippie, however, is omniscient. All hail Galoot!

UPDATE: I just realized that I'm safe from Sean as long as I stay within U.S. territory. Unless we annex British Columbia, I should be okay.

So, We Meet Again

Yes, it's been forever. Once again: sue me.

It's a cold Sunday in Minnesota. It snowed most of yesterday, and at 10 degrees, that'll stay with us for a while. Kristi's at work, Emma spent the night vomiting, and I spent the night at her side (since it really wouldn't be fair to the blood donors for Kristi to be poking for veins without something approaching a decent night's sleep). To add insult to whatever it is you add insult to, I'm sick as well -- slightly queasy, and a sore throat.

In short, it's a carry-the-tv-into-the-kid's-room, stay-indoors sort of day. Alphabet soup and hot tea for those who can keep it down; Glaceau Vitamin Water for those who can't. Emma has watched "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Toy Story 2" so far, and is taking a nap; she's also had me (and my sore throat) read three chapters of our current Lemony Snicket book (book 9: "The Carnivorous Carnival").

Here's a picture of her, accompanied by Smudge. Smudge has been a good friend to her today; maybe it's just that the house is cold and she's warm, but he's been sticking pretty close. Nice to see that.

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You can also see a bit of Emma's bed in this picture. I'll probably take another one of the bed in the next day or so, because it'll be gone not long after that. We bought her a captains bed, with storage underneath; this will allow us to get rid of her chest of drawers and replace it with something else -- probably Kristi's old dressing table, which is in the basement awaiting restoration.

Kristi and Emma are also planning on moving our old Gateway computer into Emma's room -- which is weird, because as I was telling Cyn the other day, Kristi is a neo-Luddite and doesn't want Emma becoming computer-addicted Be that as it may, they agreed we would move this old boat-anchor (Pentium 166 MMX) into Emma's room. But she forgot to factor in the size of the monitor; it's about 18" deep, meaning it won't fit on the teensy computer desk she'd picked out for Emma at Target, which was probably designed for either a flat-panel or a laptop. Maybe we can swap this monitor for a smaller one at Computer Renaissance; I don't know. Emma won't need a big screen for what she'll be able to do with this computer (Win95-compatible games and MS Paint).

This is where I'd tell you about work, but I don't blog about work anymore. A shame, really, because it's both very hectic and very interesting, with a new project as well as continued maintenance on my old systems.

I could talk about technology generally without going into specifics, I guess. But the technology I'll be dealing with on the new project is kind of run-of-the-mill; I'm going to writing a Java component that wraps a third-party web service, and coordinating the development of a larger component that uses my new wrapper. Maybe Scooter could squeeze 500 or so words out of that, but there's no way I can.

Still, I've had some fun getting started on the new stuff. Since I'm trying to use only Linux (Ubuntu) at home, I figured I'd install a Java development environment, and the logical choice was Eclipse -- sophisticated, extendable, native Java, open source, and way cool. This was a bad idea, as multiple efforts to install it have failed to get the thing installed correctly with all required help files. More my fault than Ubuntu's, but still, no Eclipse. But then I remembered that Oracle JDeveloper10g (which I use in Windows, and just love) is also virtually pure Java, and runs happily in Linux. So I installed it, no sweat. Yippee! As a bonus, I also installed Sun's NetBeans4.1 -- yet another pure Java IDE I can run in either Windows or Linux, and one that I could come to love, particularly since it, like Eclipse, is open source.

Have I mentioned that I love Ubuntu? Thank you, Sean -- both for prompting me to make the switch, and for helping with the DVD issue. The only problem I'm having with it right now is getting the pressure sensitivity working on my Wacom tablet, but (as with Eclipse) I think that's mostly my own newbishness. I'll get it worked out eventually, some day when I've got the patience for it. In the meantime, it's not like I'm chopping a lot right now, so it hardly matters.