Friday, December 29, 2006
Not California
It's been a nice two weeks or so of vegging. I've spent most of my time at my parents' house and a few days up near Minocqua, Wisconsin, snowmobiling and skate skiing. I snapped a nice picture back in the woods while on a snowmobile ride.

Snowmobiling is one of my guilty little pleasures. It's a dangerous (see last year's Wisconsin fatality report) and polluting (see Wikipedia. I can sleep a little better knowing that one of our sleds is a four stroke) hobby. In the winter, some Northwoods taverns have more snowmobiles sitting outside than cars.

Still, there's something I enjoy about it. There's no protective cage, like in a sports car, so the sense of speed is that much more present. On Wednesday, on a straightaway, I hit 75 miles per hour — in the past, I've been up to 85 crossing a frozen lake.

The state has a network of trails, both local and semi-arterial (you can ride across the state if there's enough snow to have the trails open). Particularly in the north, the wintertime tourist economy's fate hinges on snowfall accumulation.

We again attempted to mix it with the locals (see last year's Adventures in Small-Town America). Characters haunt the taverns on a Wednesday night.

My other goal has been to get Metal Gear Solid 3 beaten on my brother's Playstation, but it looks like that won't be happening before I fly back.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Merry Christmas

(thanks Ben)

Just checking in. I'm in Wisconsin. I went to what could be Favre's last game at Lambeau last night.

The Christmas spirits dumped a good number of inches of snow this afternoon, so I'm happy to get my white Christmas.

Update: From The New York Times: Stultification: How Sweet It Is
Every year I arrive at my parents’ house in Springfield, Va., armed with my healthy self-edifying projects — big leafy Penguin classics, Chomsky-explains-it-all books and a backlog of fortifying magazines. And every year I think I am going to actually read a paragraph of one of these things. But then I walk in the front door, say ‘hi’ to my mom and dad, stand at the kitchen counter and start eating cheese.

more »

Thursday, December 14, 2006
Practicing piano
Camden had been renting a digital piano. I thought this was neat and had been contemplating doing the same thing. But a coworker put his Alesis QS8 up for sale and I bought it.

I hated practicing piano as a kid. It was presented to me as a chore. I didn't understand why I would want to learn. Oh, if I could only go back and talk some sense into my eight-year-old self.

My new year's resolution is to learn to play my favorite piano piece, Debussy's First Arabesque. I haven't been playing piano regularly for a long time (and I was never very good to begin with), so it's like jumping back in the deep end. I've spent the last two nights practicing the first five measures over and over. The song is ABRSM grade 8. It's going to take me a long time.

It makes me think about how Christopher Taylor is a god.
Keeping us safe
I'm reading the TSA page on permitted and prohibited items in advance of a trip next week.

This was cute. Under Food and Drink, it specifies that you may bring:
Beverages brought from home or purchased before reaching the security checkpoint in a 3 oz. or smaller container and in your quart-size, zip-top plastic bag.
I realize they're saying this to be consistent with their three-ounce rule. But I still chuckle when I think of somebody bringing a three-ounce container of soda. You know, in case they get thirsty.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
More DHTML viewer goodness
Google Patent Search
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The seasonal pattern is beginning to look familiar
I spent the first 23 years of my life under an uninterrupted cycle of cool springs, hot and muggy summers, crisp autumns, and doggedly cold Wisconsin winters. Seasonal variation was more of a general suggestion for Mother Nature to dance around — 70 degree days could easily be followed by 40 degree ones. In six months, you'd watch the temperature plummet from scorching triple digits to numbingly cold double digits below zero.

When I moved to California, my move was a common topic of conversation. One person asked me if I liked the California weather. I contemplated this.

"It's driving me nuts. It's like Groundhog's Day," I said, referring to the movie. "Every day is the same thing. Same temperature, same sky."

Anyway, I hit my one-year mark last summer. Now, entering my second winter, things are starting to repeat themselves. It's starting to rain regularly in San Francisco.

The familiarity of it struck me.

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