Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bored Blogging

Mostly I'm blogging right now for lack of anything better to do.

I'm wiped out. I never got sick sick the way Kristi did, but I seem to have a low-grade something-or-other that is just draining the gas out of the tank. Yesterday I came home from work and kind of dozed all evening. Today I came home a little early and, while I haven't slept at all, I also haven't done much else either. I'm too tired to read much, too tired to code much, too tired to do much of anything much.

Kristi's much better now, and planning to go back to work tomorrow. After that she'll have a four-day weekend to ride out the inevitable relapse from overdoing it.

Mom called today to tell me that Justice William Stone, retired, formerly of California's Fifth District Court of Appeal, passed away on Saturday. I think I can honestly say -- and forgive me, please, Justice T -- that Bill Stone was my favorite justice during my later years at the court. Yeah, even though he was a Giants fan; in his case, I can excuse that one little flaw. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and a warm heart.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


It's snowing again. Finally. Most of what was on the ground was either turned to mud or turned to ice; it was starting to look positively ugly. And this is the kind of warm-weather snow that looks beautiful while falling, but melts on contact with the sidewalk. No shoveling -- sweet.

Kristi is feeling a bit better. Her mood has improved, and she has more energy; she's currently laughing on the phone with a friend in California. But she gets dizzy when standing, has a headache, and of course a cough. So she's still very much in take-it-easy mode.

Emma is working on her Science Fair project: "Which Fruits Have More Acid?" We made litmus paper from purple cabbage, distilled water and coffee filters, and she's tested a range of fruit. Lemon and lime appear to be the winners. Grapefruit and tomato came in well behind, surprisingly. Emma is, of course, much more concerned with presentation than science; she's working much harder on the display than she did on the testing. Oh, well.

As for me, I'm dragging my butt through the weekend. I don't plan on getting pneumonia, so I'm resting as much as I can -- which, with Kristi down for the count and Emma in demando mode, isn't much. Oh, well.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dragging On

Kristi and Emma were both sick last week (the week of the 16th). Emma got better. Kristi thought she got better, went back to work Monday and Tuesday, but had a relapse last Tuesday night and missed work on Wednesday. Then she thought she got better again, went medallion hunting on Thursday and Friday, and now ... now she's got pneumonia.


Kristi thinks I'm a lousy patient, that when I'm sick I tend to exaggerate my discomfort and play for sympathy. And hey, who am I to argue? But I think that makes me a good patient, in the sense that I recognize something's wrong and try to make it better. Kristi is the one who isn't a good patient. She doesn't get the lesson of it all (take it easy) -- she doesn't like letting me take care of her, or even admitting that anything's wrong at all. Hence the multiple relapses and eventual pneumonia.

I'll explain all of this to here when she's feeling better. Then I'll get sick and let her pamper me. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Random Stuff

This year, Kristi, Emma and I are hunting for the Winter Carnival medallion. We won't find it, of course; we have no time for this stuff, and even if we did, we don't know enough about Saint Paul and Ramsey County to properly interpret the clues. Maybe. Anyway, today after school Emma and I poked around a possible site for a while. We didn't find the medallion, of course, but we did find a message carved in the snow on a couple of picnic tables: "Happy Hunting". Don't know if that was from a fellow medallion seeker or someone more official, but it excited Emma no end.

Of course, the way the weather's going, all those other people roaming around Highland Park with us today, digging for the medallion, won't be needing snow shovels much longer. It's supposed to be in the 40s tomorrow and Friday, with rain possible.

Things are finally starting to move again on the upstairs remodel. We've got doors, and we've disconnected the old gas heater and had the old vent opening to the chimney bricked in. Hopefully next week we can get someone in to move the extremely heavy and bulky elliptical trainer down to the first floor and the computer room, where we've made space for it, so that we can then get the hardwood floor refinished, after which we can put up baseboards and the face frame on the built-in bed. It's a fun little dance coordinating all of this, and thankfully Kristi is doing it.

Last week, Kristi and Emma were both sick. Emma's still all sniffly and congested, but she's back at school. Kristi got better, and then apparently got something else; she was feverish and shivering when she came home from work Monday night, and stayed in bed all day Tuesday watching "Lord of the Rings". This is extremely out of character for her (not the "LoTR" part, she loves Viggo Mortenson; the staying in bed instead of running herself ragged part). It worked, though -- she's back at work tonight. I don't seem to have fully caught whatever they had yet, but I am feeling very tired and cranky.

Oh, wait -- that's normal. Never mind.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Book Blogging

Spoilers for Dan Simmons's novel The Hollow Man ahead. Read at your own peril.

Okay, so having finished Dan Simmons's Ilium and followed it up with the sequel, Olympos, I went back and read an earlier novel of his, The Hollow Man. I did this mainly because, the last time I talked with her, Cyn told me not to read it; she was reading it, and didn't like it at all. I decided to be contrary.

I have to admit, it's easy to find reasons why Cyn might not have liked it. For a long time it plods along as an earnest, if unlikely, tale of telepathy and loss; then, around page 200, it turns briefly (but not briefly enough) into one of Dean Koontz's lesser works. It's almost as if Simmons's editor told him, "Look, I can get you a cover blurb from Stephen King, but you'll have to put in a serial killer who wears dentures with razor blades embedded in them. Can ya do that?"

Even without that detour into a whole other genre, the book had other problems, including the suggestion that suicide really is the answer to life's problems. I could certainly understand where someone might have issues with that. I also see, in retrospect, a somewhat belittling attitude toward women (was it just me, or did Simmons never mention what Gail's career was? and why did Jeremy have to call her 'kiddo' all the time?).

But for me, one of the biggest problems was its pushiness (for lack of a better word). Simmons hung a great deal of his contract with the reader on his or her willingness to not merely accept the idea of telepathy, but to accept the specific quantum-physical and mathematical bases for telepathy Simmons posits. It's almost as if he doesn't trust us to suspend disbelief; instead, he has to prove to us that telepathy is possible.

That's a little unfair, I suppose, because the specific scientific underpinning he sets out is critical to the plot of the book. Still, the whole thing feels altogether too preachy, to the point of actually laying out equations in the book that not 1 in a million readers would understand. Why bother?

Interesting to me is that this book (written in the early '90s) has at its core some of the same ideas as Ilium and Olympos: the notion of consciousness as a standing wave, and the idea that great and/or powerful minds (such as Homer or Shakespeare) can give birth to entire new universes of possibilities. But these later books take a completely different approach; instead of insisting that we understand and accept these ideas, Simmons is now basically saying, "Hey, c'mon, this is fiction. Just accept the premise and let's go have some fun." And damn it, we do accept it. I don't know if this means that Simmons has become a better writer in the last 10 years, but it certainly suggests as much. I'll have to read more of his earlier stuff to judge.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Lazy Sunday

Not really; plenty to do. But I thought I'd drop by anyway.

Friday night Kristi and I watched "The Motorcycle Diaries," which we had in from NetFlix. It was a lovely travelogue with a good cast, but as Kristi noted afterwards, it fell a bit flat in really showing what made Ernesto into Che. Yes, there was plenty showing the lines between the haves and the have-nots, the Spanish descendents and the indigenous population, the healthy and the leperous -- but Alberto's character development was more visible than was Che's, and if you view the movie as Alberto's story, I think it plays better.

Last night we all watched "Elf" for the first time (this one a freebie from our local library). Kristi laughed out loud several times, which rarely happens while movie-watching, and Emma went into hysterics. Plus, I got another dose of the adorable Zooey Deschanel. A win for everybody.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Weekend Thoughts

I have to admit: up to this point, owning a laptop/notebook hasn't made me any more productive, either as a developer or as a blogger. But it sure is nice to be able to sit in the kitchen blogging and reading email while smelling the chai tea brewing on the stove, far enough away from the television that I don't have to listen to Emma's Saturday morning cartoon-fest.

Since I'm enjoying a lazy weekend morning, with Kristi at work and Emma otherwise engaged, I thought I'd drop by, say hello, and update you -- yes, you, dear reader -- on life and stuff.

But not so much about work. As I've already told you, I don't work-blog anymore. And what I said about work in that last post hasn't changed. The new project is still fun and interesting.

Though I can't really blog about my current job, there's no reason I can't blog about my previous one. I just got an unexpected email from Carolyn Kornoff. Carolyn was the administrative assistant (judicial secretary? I can't remember titles anymore) in the chambers of Justice Thaxter when I was a research attorney for him a decade ago, at the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno, California. Carolyn was clearly the brains of the outfit; she kept things running efficiently, no matter how much I tried to screw up. (She also did a good job of keeping Joby, Kathy and the judge in line, though they didn't need it nearly as much as I did.)

Anyway, she forwards the following email from one of the other staff:

On Friday, January 20, 2006 at 5 p.m. the second floor conference room refrigerator will be cleared out and cleaned. If you have an item in it, and would like that item to remain there, please mark the item clearly with your name and with a date that ends in "2006." All contents not marked with a name and a "2006" date will be tossed (even Larry Rubinow's Saltine crackers that have been on the top shelf of the door since the early 1990's).

I will send out two more notices next week, one early in the week and one on the morning of Friday, Jan. 20, to remind everyone in case anyone actually wants to save something that's already in there.

(By the way, Ernie and Clint, even if on January 20 I find the Saltine crackers marked "Larry Rubinow 1/20/06," I'm going to toss them anyway. :) )

Now, in my defense, I don't refrigerate saltines. Never have, never will. And furthermore, I don't recall that there even was a refrigerator in the second-floor conference room when I was at the court; the only refrigerator I remember was in the first-floor break room. Personally, I blame Ernie, because it would be just like him to try to hang something like this on me. Remember this, kids, when people try to tell you that the court system is fair and impartial: it's actually filled with devious, buck-passing Ernies who refrigerate saltines. Litigate at your own peril.

Carolyn isn't the only figure from my past to come calling lately. Within the last few months I got word from my brother Dave in Fresno that two of my old Los Angeles friends, from my days at Emerson Junior High and University High School, had popped up. Glenn Berkovitz, sound mixer to the stars, looked up my brother's phone number and called him, trying to track me down. And Daniel Bluestone, M.D., pediatric neurologist to the, um, kids who need a neurologist, walked into the north Fresno jewelry store where Dave works and ended up buying something from him, having no idea with whom he was dealing (Dave figured out with whom he was dealing pretty quickly, apparently; he says that aside from some gray, Dan hadn't changed much). I've since been in touch with Glenn; still hoping to hear from Dan. If nothing else, maybe we'll all find our way to our 30th (eesh!) reunion this summer.

Or heck. Just visit me in Saint Paul. This has been the second-mildest January on record, surpassed only by 1990. We haven't had a significant snowfall in weeks, and much of what was on the ground is gone. High temps are consistently in the 30s, which feels positively balmy for this time of year (if you're one of my L.A. buddies, it probably sounds brutal -- but really, it's all what you're used to). The sun is shining, bicyclists are out and about, and beach volleyball players pack the shores of Lake Como. Okay, I made up that last part, but still -- come to sunny Minnesota.

Friday, January 06, 2006

News From Wal-Mart

We at Wal-Mart think we're very, very funny, in a disgustingly racist sort of way.

What's that? People don't like us? We'll just invent a poll that says they do.