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May 08, 2011

Trying to Lose Weight

On the night I decided to quit WoW, I decided that I would also start exercising more regularly on my exercise bike (which I bought along with my house in a happy sort of accident - not sure I would have bought it myself separately) and outside on weekends and when I could. I figured the regular thing to do would be good if I had any sort of WoW addict cravings and I simply had a bunch of extra time in my days to use - fortunately I didn't have any sort of cravings but I have found I actually am enjoying the bike, whereas I hate gyms. Gives me a nice chance to listen to music which I otherwise rarely do and the combined rhythm of the music and biking is often quite enjoyable and almost never a slog. Bought some small weights too recently but have found those completely mess up the biking as the lifting rhythm is different than the biking rhythm and so I have to really concentrate to do both and that is annoying so only using the weights separately. Started out at first at just 18 minutes per session at level 4 1-2 times a day but am now up to usually 30 minutes at lvl 9, still around 1-2 times a day. Miles have gone from like 25 a week to probably 50 or 60.

Along with this, I decided to try to eat less but hopefully in a completely simple and thus sustainable way. I am not on a 'diet' but my goal is to lose at least 20 lbs and a bunch more would be better. Up to around 13.5 last I checked and it has not been difficult. I basically just try to eat somewhat less (like 2 hot dogs instead of 3 for a simple meal at home and such) and only have desserts and snacks if I really want them. Haven't banned eating anything and am not on any kind of a time line about how long things take. The one most direct change I made to eating (and I don't know if this really has made any difference one way or the other to things) is that I am now eating breakfast most days of one slice (two on weekends as I usually don't eat lunch then) of my Honey Whole Wheat Bread. Used to do this when I made it but am now doing much more regularly. Before I only ate breakfast (but a worse one) on weekends as a regular thing. Am even in the middle of baking more bread right now (writing as it rises).

Coincidentally, a few weeks after I started this I read this post by Neil Gaiman about a sort of similar plan although he is way ahead of me.

Posted by aarondf at 02:37 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

April 11, 2011

Changes

Well, haven't posted here in forever but seems wrong for my last post to be about World of Warcraft after I have now quit a couple of weeks ago. Enjoyed the game but really glad to have quit and have no desires to go back to regular raiding. Just takes too much time and not enough gain. Been taking advantage of the extra time to get caught up on some things, use my exercise bike, hike, get ready to start kayaking again, and just generally get out more. Also able to go to sleep earlier and try to avoid having a sleep deficit as the week goes on, given my forced 9-5 work schedule.

Posted by aarondf at 02:33 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (1)

November 03, 2009

Language

In response to one of my colleagues having written that she was "allowed only one checked bag per SC travel policy" my question in the work meeting today was "How many travel policies are there?".

Posted by aarondf at 02:24 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

July 20, 2009

Apollo 11/Cronkite

Find myself pretty powerfully affected by the combination of the 40th anniversary and Cronkite's death, which go pretty well together given Cronkite's interest in space and his coverage of the landing being one of his iconic moments. Interesting emotional mix from the two. Although his most important moments were from before I was born, I definitely do remember his amazing voice and delivery from when I was a kid. He, Murrow, and Ted Koppel are the three tv journalists I have always been most impressed by.

Posted by aarondf at 05:19 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

May 07, 2009

Signed the P&S

Well, just signed the P&S for the house in Framingham. Still have to figure out mortgage but everything going smoothly so far. Closing is now June 18th and I expect that I will move on Saturday the 20th. Probably again going to try to get friends to help so if you think you'd be up for helping that day, let me know - I will also send email asking this and with more details to people. Move to this place which is basically the exact same set of stuff to move this time went very smoothly and think whole thing was only like 3 hours or so. My current place is right by Alewife and for anyone without a car I'd of course make sure you get a ride home. Also, plan to feed all helpers with whatever people want from Tennessee's BBQ which is yummy - will be glad to be nearby them now.

Posted by aarondf at 02:38 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

March 03, 2009

Looking for a House (and Realtor)

Well, although I had expected this, turns out I definitely have to move (and hopefully buy a house) by early July. I actually don't think this is a bad thing but definitely a lot of work ahead.

If anyone knows of a realtor (or a house) they would highly recommend, please let me know their name and contact info. I am looking for a house (single family, detached) and fairly flexible about where although based on my searches now and when I was looking a couple of years ago, the two towns that seemed to provide the most hits on my criteria were Waltham (preferred) and Framingham but lots of other places (Watertown, Natick, Somerville, Cambridge, Arlington, etc...) are not out of the picture either. Would probably prefer to be West than North or South.

Will be first time buying assuming I find something too so any other tips or whatever welcome as well.

Posted by aarondf at 04:29 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (3)

February 06, 2008

Superdelegates

Although I knew about the concept before, Superdelegates (much more used in the Democratic party primary system than the Republican) seem a pretty awful thing. These are 'party leader' delegates like Bill Clinton who are not chosen by the people at all and there are a TON of them, like 25% as many as elected delegates. Currently, depending on which CNN page you go by, Hillary, if you ignored the superdelegates either has a TINY lead (like 7 delegates) or is behind by a similar amount, either one given that Edwards has 26 delegates, would lead to a brokered convention. However, Hillary has a like 200-100 lead in superdelegates so is ahead by around 90 overall. Showing Hillary with a 90 delegate lead is really misleading, as it turns out the voting by the people is as close to 50-50 as it could possibly be but most people won't realize that and will think she has a small but not insignificant lead.

I strongly prefer Obama to Hillary but, even if I didn't, this system seems really bad. A person could win more than 60% of the elected delegates and still lose the primary if all the superdelegates were against him. The "Democratic" party should be ashamed of this system imho.

Posted by aarondf at 01:18 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (1)

July 03, 2007

iPhone

Not that I am planning to buy one for a variety of reasons (basically the $60 minimum monthly cost - I actually don't find the $600 base cost at all unreasonable), but the iPhone release really does seem pretty hugely significant. Seems technologically and interface-wise lightyears ahead of other similar devices and many of the existing issues I expect will be solved in the 1-6 months timeframe via software upgrades or in the case of GPS will need new hardware and might take a bit longer. The only one which seems likely to take significantly longer is the 'locked to AT&T' issue which I still don't really understand - did they give Jobs just a bucketload of money? Yes, I understand he wanted to keep a ton of control over it and AT&T agreed to that but, still, this seems like it is going to be the only big limiting factor for them for the moment.

Posted by aarondf at 05:43 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

May 16, 2007

Republican Debate - Ron Paul

Very sorry to see Giuliani apparently making points out of his comment in reaction to Ron Paul's (past Libertarian candidate) remarks which should have really been listened to and it is great at least one person is saying it, not that he has a chance in the modern Republican party which has strongly moved away from its Libertarian wing.

Btw, what I agree with completely are Mr. Paul's comments on our interventionist policy and the problems resulting from it. On the current war, I am actually not so clearly in favor of withdrawing. We absolutely 100% should never have gone in in the first place. However, having done so I think we have a moral obligation to do all we can to not leave the country in a worse situation than it was in before we went. If this is either impossible (the current issue possibly) or successful or we are just making it worse, yes we should leave but it is no longer nearly as simple an issue as it was before we crazily went there.

"MR. GOLER: Congressman Paul, I believe you are the only man on the stage who opposes the war in Iraq, who would bring the troops home as quickly as -- almost immediately, sir. Are you out of step with your party? Is your party out of step with the rest of the world? If either of those is the case, why are you seeking its nomination?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think the party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Senator Robert Taft didn't even want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy -- no nation-building, no policing of the world. Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There's a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them.

Just think of the tremendous improvement -- relationships with Vietnam. We lost 60,000 men. We came home in defeat. Now we go over there and invest in Vietnam. So there's a lot of merit to the advice of the Founders and following the Constitution.

And my argument is that we shouldn't go to war so carelessly. (Bell rings.) When we do, the wars don't end.

MR. GOLER: Congressman, you don't think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?

REP. PAUL: What changed?

MR. GOLER: The non-interventionist policies.

REP. PAUL: No. Non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East -- I think Reagan was right.

We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?

REP. PAUL: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time -- (bell rings) -- have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.

MR. GIULIANI: Wendell, may I comment on that? That's really an extraordinary statement. That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. (Applause, cheers.)

And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Congressman?

REP. PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.

They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were -- if other foreign countries were doing that to us?"


Posted by aarondf at 04:55 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

January 16, 2007

Catching Up

Haven't posted anything in a while as have been very busy and distracted but had a great holidays visiting my brother and his family in New Mexico and got and gave some really nice gifts, including getting a new TV and a video Ipod (my first Ipod of any sort) which is really cool although mostly using for just music at the moment.

Also in the last while watched the 5th season of The Wire, which was as usual amazing (particularly in the middle of the season) and have got moderately into House and watched the first season on DVD.

Movies I've seen of late that I can definitely recommend are Pan's Labyrinth (although don't even think about bringing kids to it), On the Waterfront (which I had amazingly never seen), 49 Up, and Little Miss Sunshine.

Posted by aarondf at 02:52 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

Test

Test post

Posted by aarondf at 02:49 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

Catching Up

Haven't posted anything in a while as have been very busy and distracted but had a great holidays visiting my brother and his family in New Mexico and got and gave some really nice gifts, including getting a new TV and a video Ipod (my first Ipod of any sort) which is really cool although mostly using for just music at the moment.

Also in the last while watched the 5th season of The Wire, which was as usual amazing (particularly in the middle of the season) and have got moderately into House and watched the first season on DVD.

Movies I've seen of late that I can definitely recommend are Pan's Labyrinth (although don't even think about bringing kids to it), On the Waterfront (which I had amazingly never seen), 49 Up, and Little Miss Sunshine.

Posted by aarondf at 02:31 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

Catching Up

Haven't posted anything in a while as have been very busy and distracted but had a great holidays visiting my brother and his family in New Mexico and got and gave some really nice gifts, including getting a new TV and a video Ipod (my first Ipod of any sort) which is really cool although mostly using for just music at the moment.

Also in the last while watched the 5th season of The Wire, which was as usual amazing (particularly in the middle of the season) and have got moderately into House and watched the first season on DVD.

Movies I've seen of late that I can definitely recommend are Pan's Labyrinth (although don't even think about bringing kids to it), On the Waterfront (which I had amazingly never seen), 49 Up, and Little Miss Sunshine.

Posted by aarondf at 02:31 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman 1912-2006

Economist Milton Friedman died today. He was one of my top few favorite living famous people, so very sad to hear this.

Posted by aarondf at 05:16 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

November 03, 2006

Research Day - snark/snarky

I made a snarky comment today to a friend and then felt a bit bad about it and apologized to him but he didn't know the term and asked me the derivation so I guessed that it was from Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark.

Well, it turns out, according to Wikipedia, that I was wrong and there is no connection to the story. However, what makes this annecdote interesting to me is that it turns out there is a connection to Lewis Carroll because snark is actually a portmanteau of "snide remark" and it turns out Lewis Carroll invented the usage of pormanteau to refer to a compositing of words together in Through the Looking Glass with the word "slithy".

Posted by aarondf at 05:31 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (1)

October 20, 2006

I'm Alive, Sort Of

I'm still around but insanely busy at work due to extraordinary circumstances and just don't have the time or energy for much of anything else, and this will likely be true for at least several more weeks unfortunately.

I did get away for the Columbus day weekend to David's in California which was wonderful and a REALLY NEEDED break, before which I had really been on the verge of collapse. THANKS so much, David.

Anyway, i'll be back here eventually more regularly but might be a while.

Posted by aarondf at 03:14 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (2)

September 15, 2006

More on Comcast and new Home Phone number.

Well, my cable internet again went out on Saturday and when I called Comcast and discovered they weren't going to be able to come out to fix it until Thursday, I got incredibly pissed and was thinking about dumping them. However, it actually started working again by Saturday night. I meant to cancel the service call but forgot and it turned out to be good I did. The tech called me yesterday afternoon and said that his diagnostics showed poor enough performance on my line that he should come out anyway despite it having come back on and he was accomodating to my schedule and willing to meet me at 6:15 rather than the 5-7 crap. He came and we tried to figure out the problem for a long time without much success and he was about to give up but then decided to try to switch out the modem he had given me a couple of weeks ago despite having never seen a bad modem cause the problem that was occurring. Well, this turned out to be a first and that fixed the problem so hopefully my service will be more reliable but we'll see. The visit did take a full hour but I felt it was worth it and the tech, Will, was very good and nice.

I also have decided that I am not comfortable with just my cell and to try out Vonage, which also comes with the free router that I needed to support my computer and TiVo's ethernet connections simultaneously. After Will left, I tried installing Vonage and it took like 5 minutes with no hassles at all. Straight plug and play. Tried out the 'leave a voicemail message on home phone and immediately gets emailed to me' feature today too and that is really a cool feature! So, so far, so good with Vonage. Didn't make any real calls to get a sense of voice quality/latency but I hope it will not be an issue. My new number is (617) 395-8831.

Posted by aarondf at 04:40 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

September 08, 2006

Comcast Hassles

Well, got my cable working yesterday after being out for nearly 3 days and being the second day I had to go home earlier to wait for them. The problem turned out to be that I had kept using my Wireless Gateway after they shut down my prior account based on the old address. When I first called to say I was moving, they wanted to charge me $150 to install this again and I said absolutely not so they said I could lose the wireless and install would be free. However, after I moved the Wireless Gateway kept working absolutely fine with no problems and the new modem they gave me was having trouble installing so I went back to the Gateway. Well, when they finally cancelled my old account on Tuesday, apparently the Gateway stopped working. When the technician came yesterday, he found this and called in. Again they said that despite the fact that the Gateway immediately worked with no effort in the new place, they would charge me $150 to get it working again after they turned it off. This just seems INSANE to me and I of course again refused. The tech got the modem working pretty easily and I really don't need the wireless but the other annoying problem with the new setup is that it can only support one device at a time so I will need to manually switch to my TiVo every once in a while and connect to the TiVo update service which is a real pain. Why they couldn't just transfer the old account to the new address when it obviously worked just fine doing this I have no idea - is this purely them wanting to gouge me as it seems like?

Actually, I guess I should be able to just buy a router to put between the cable modem and my computer and TiVo to solve that issue.

Posted by aarondf at 10:45 AM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

August 18, 2006

Visit from an old friend

Doug, who is one of my very oldest friends from high school and before, came through Boston yesterday on his way to the Mt Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb race. This is his first trip to New England and we had a nice time catching up a bit (haven't seen each other in 9 years!) and I showed him a bit of Boston and Cambridge. Really nice visit but way too short as he headed north this morning to get ready for the race.

Posted by aarondf at 12:02 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

July 17, 2006

Delaying House Search so now Apt searching

Well, after looking at 22 houses and finding 3 I liked, I've still decided to put off the house search for a while, as the market seems to be going down and the current time pressure from needing to move isn't helpful. Having to do an apartment search and then move twice is a real pain but if it saves me 25-50K as it might, it will be worth it.

So, anyway, looking for an apartment starting like 8/15 or 9/1 so if you have any leads, let me know. I wish apartments had as useful information on them in one place as MLS listings give. Craigslist is about the only place I've looked so far and info on most places is pretty minimal, often without any pictures at all. I have a strong feeling, unfortunately, that I am going to have to pay more for a place I don't like nearly as much and is in a much worse location but hopefully I'm wrong on some of that.

Posted by aarondf at 02:55 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

Maybe moving soon - help appreciated looking for new place

Well, I learned suddenly last night that I may need to quickly move from my current place. I am hoping I can push it off to something like next June but may very well need to be out by September 1.

I have been thinking about buying for a while and am planning to look at places to buy first and rent second. I could without difficulty stay somewhere for a month or two if necessary with most of my stuff in strorage if buying takes like 3 months instead of 2 as seems very likely but this would only be a really temporary thing and would prefer to avoid the hassle of moving twice.

Any advice anyone has to offer I would love and can either post here or email me. First off, what do people think of this as a time to buy? Seems to me lots of stuff is on the market and prices have flattened out but are they likely going down and I could probably save myself a significant amount of money by waiting 6-12 months?

I am not sure yet quite what price range I am looking at but would guess something in the 400-500k range. I am pretty flexible about location and current towns I am starting off thinking about are Watertown, Belmont, Arlington, Somerville, Framingham but not restricted to even this large set. I really do not want a condo and do want a single family detached house but given the short timeframe may be forced to consider something less than perfect for a while.

Anyway, if anyone has suggestions on particular places to buy or rent or websites to use or anything else, please let me know. Current website I already plan to use is Zillow.com (which gives historical pricing information on houses and comps and such)

Posted by aarondf at 05:26 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

June 19, 2006

Catching Up

This is going to be a rambling post, which I should probably do as a bunch of separate entries, but don't feel like figuring the splits.

Over Memorial Day, went to David's (thanks!) place in CA for a gaming (mostly Titan) weekend and had a really nice time. First couple of Titan games I had unbelievably horrible master board luck and just waited a surprisingly long time in both to inevitably be killed. Then had a couple of games where I made one very bad decision, that in each case (and very likely in the first case) may have cost me the game, in addition to some bad battle board luck. My final Titan game was a 2 player game where my opponent had unbelievably good master board luck for the first 10 or so turns, such that even with no battles and my luck only being a bit below average, it looked nearly impossible for me to come back. Somehow, though, the dice completely turned and I started getting the amazing rolls and Rob the bad ones and I got back in it. On the final turn, I attacked Rob's Angel stack that was much better than I thought and should have lost but ended up crushing it, a like top 1% outcome for me, letting me live and giving me an Angel call for my attack on Rob's Titan, which I ended up killing in a still pretty close battle but favoring me with the Angel call. I was honestly shocked to come back in this game given the early position.

When I got home, I was at work for one day before I came down with what seems definitely to be the same horrible illness I had twice over the winter and has knocked me out for nearly two weeks - today is the first day I seem to be basically completely recovered. On the one day in between, I also went to a Dark Star Orchestra concert with DavidK that was wonderful although probably a bad idea, given I could sense I was coming down with something, although not at all the magnitude of it.

Oh, another gaming anecdote worth noting. On Saturday at Nate's party, I played two Tichu games. In the first, we were down 500-0 after two hands but came back in a hurry to win, largely by virtue of 3 Grand Tichu calls. In the second game, we had an even worse start and got more and more aggressive in (Grand) Tichu calls only to have _absolutely everything_ in the game go wrong. I think we called 3 Grands and 3 regular Tichus and missed them all, several with overcalls. The final score was 1055 to -655, an unbelievable 1710 point loss and the greatest score differential I think I have ever seen. Would have been 1810 too if they had bothered to overcall on the last hand.

Posted by aarondf at 03:31 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

January 04, 2006

Back From the Dead

Despite not posting for a month, I'm still around. I got Bronchitis and was totally out of it for two weeks and largely out of it for a third. I am actually STILL not feeling great but well enough for work and all at this point. Netflix, TiVo and World of Warcraft were all great during my sickness, making it at least bearable.

Christmas week was really wonderful with my brother and his family here for the whole week from Christmas to New Years. Isaac is now five and a joy and so much more articulate and everything than a year ago. Highlights of the week included seeing the wonderful Ansel Adams exhibit at the MFA, a fun trip to Portsmouth, NH and First Night celebrations downtown. I was sorry that my gifts were a bit lacking due to being sick for so long - almost every real gift I gave had been ordered before I got sick, including a nice 30" LCD TV my brother and I got for my mom to replace her very lame old tv. The most siginificant gift I got will probably turn out to be a cellphone.

Watched tons of movies but will probably not bother commenting on most of them but The Polar Express deserves a mention. The animation was ok but it remains true that the state-of-the-art is still really not up to doing realistic human beings and trying is a bad idea as the differences are painful (at least for me) to watch. I did like the Elf North Pole city and huge sack of presents but most of the movie felt like filler and incredibly predictable. **

Posted by aarondf at 04:24 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

December 02, 2005

Aisles soon "running with blood" - rejoice

The Transportation Security Agency has announced a few changes (reducing the number of objects not allowed on planes, making searches more truly random) that are long overdue. My Swiss Army Knife I think is still outlawed but this is a start. Much time, money, and effort is being wasted on absolutely pointless security over one set of objects while other things just as dangerous or more so are allowed.

Corey Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, doesn't feel quite the same way as I do:

"When weapons are allowed back on board an aircraft, the pilots will be able to land the plane safety but the aisles will be running with blood."

Posted by aarondf at 04:25 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (1)

June 23, 2005

Cute Wordplay - Gnorts!

A bunch of people are convinced that the appropriate greeting when
meeting a space alien is "Gnorts."

Why "Gnorts", you ask?

It simple. In the heavily-orchestrated, gov't-disinformation-rich Apollo
Moon landing program, what was the name the gov't used to refer to the
first man who landed on the Moon?

"Neil Armstrong."

Yeah, right, as if that's his real name. Turns out it was in code.
Backwards, it is:

"Gnorts, Mr. Alien!"

from Eric Albert.

Posted by aarondf at 02:39 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

January 06, 2005

Update

Just writing an entry mostly as I haven't in a while. Had a great trip to visit my brother and his family in New Mexico for Christmas and New Years although unfortunately came down with the flu and am still recovering from it. World of Warcraft continues to eat up an incredible amount of time, amazingly addictive and very fun. I now have two characters, as I created a second to play with my brother, who is now also addicted. I at some point may have to really fight against this addiction but it has been especially nice to play while sick and not up for much else.

Highlights of the trip were playing with my 4 year old nephew and a couple really fun Go-Kart rides at a park in Tucson, Arizona we went to. I was quite amazed at just how much fun these were and tiring too on the arms. I may try to find a good track around Boston and arrange an outing.

Posted by aarondf at 12:44 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

December 17, 2004

Wounded Squirrel Story

I am on a mailing list (MIT Outing Club) where someone earlier today reqeusted help in rescuing a wounded squirrel he had found and got it, with one person donating a cage and another driving the hurt squirrel to an animal rescue clinic that would treat it. I find this to be incredibly sweet and worth a mention, taking probably hours of time and effort of multiple people to help this poor creature that most regard as nuissances. Squirrels hold a particular senstivity for me too, because as a young kid I used to sometimes throw things (like sticks) at them - they would always dodge and never be close to being hurt but it was an incredibly mean thing to do and I deeply repent it and so now feel a soft place in my heart for them, in atonement. They are also an incredibly smart animal - my grandfather used to have epic battles of bird feeder technology vs squirrel ingenuity and would almost always lose, as we could all watch easily from the kitchen table at their house, out of a huge window facing the patio over which the birdfeeders hung. No matter what new birdfeeder type he would get, almost always specifically designed to avoid squirrels getting to the feed, the squirrels would within a day or two have figured out a workaround to the defense.

The squirrel has apparently now reached the rescue center and is being treated. I'll try to post a comment later about its condition, as Jan has promised to continue to give the MITOC list updates.

Posted by aarondf at 04:04 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (1)

December 02, 2004

Meme and Trivia

This is taken from a question on a games list I read but seems like it would make a good meme so I encourage anyone else who wants to, to also answer these questions.

How many different

1) Books have you read?

My file has around 1350 but probably more like 15-1700 as I'm sure this is the category where my list is missing the largest percentage. Fastest increasing for most of my life till superceded by games maybe 6-7 years ago and now movies.

2) Movies have you seen?

List has 1055 so probably around 11-1200. Mostly due to Netflix the last couple of years, this is for the first time ever the one which is increasing the fastest.

3) Albums have you listened to?

Definitely by far the least, maybe 2-300 at a guess.

4) Games have you played?

Rated 666 so probably like 750-800.

I actually to some degree track all of these except albums but have only done so for the last 5 years or so. I tried to include stuff from before that but am sure I missed a lot and still miss some new things too.

On another note, we had two teams play trivia last night and were a combined 1st and 2nd (our group ended up 2nd despite leading almost the whole way by screwing up the 1st of the vital final two questions). The fun thing for me was that for the first time I can remember for anyone on our team, I was the only person in the bar who knew the answer to:

What book starts with the lines: "NOTICE: PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR"

Link to the answer

Posted by aarondf at 11:35 AM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

October 22, 2004

Joke

Taken from Defective Yeti but too good to not repeat:

Q: What's the difference between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War?


A: George W. Bush had a plan to get out of the Vietnam War.

Posted by aarondf at 11:58 AM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

October 07, 2004

Podcasting

Podcasting is a new term for a method of distributing asynchronously audio content, with the intent that people download the MP3s onto their Ipods and then listen to them when they want.

One of the leaders of this is former MTV VJ Adam Curry, with his Daily Source Code, which is often quite good. One thing I find kind of different, and likable in a way, is the amount of casual cursing he does, when we are so used to the blandness of broadcast standards.

The BoardGameGeek guys (Derk and Aldie) have also created a Podcast program called GeekSpeak. Amusingly, Adam Curry in his Sept. 29 edition mentioned them, calling them the "Beavis and Butt-Head of boardgames". Their programs thus far have been pretty interesting.

Posted by aarondf at 03:56 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

October 06, 2004

I hate driving in NYC

I really detest driving around New York City, even when I'm not doing the driving. It really seems that the chances for accident per mile are like 100 times greater than in other places for the same distance. I have never actually been in an accident there but every time I go it seems we come close to several, although usually just minor fender bender type things. This time, after our driver made a bad move (turning left from the middle lane and not first letting the guy in the left lane go by) but didn't hit a van, the van driver actually stopped in the middle of the intersection and got out of his car to come glare at us. We gestured in apology and he saw there were three of us so he got back in and drove off but this kind of thing just doesn't happen nearly so much in other places. I get completely stressed out by it all, even as a passenger, and basically flatly refuse to actually do the driving there.

Beat up roads, crazy drivers, massive traffic, cars stopped for odd reasons, and ignoring of lane markers all seem to contribute to this horrible situation.

Posted by aarondf at 05:39 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

September 30, 2004

Gmail Invites

Meant for this just to be a PS given how available these are now but forgot so will make it a separate entry. If you want a Gmail invite send me your name (if I don't know it) and email address to aarondf@bu.edu . Given how few readers I expect I have, I expect I can give one to anybody who asks ;)

Posted by aarondf at 01:11 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

May 26, 2004

Battleground election states analysis

Quite an interesting piece based on a Wall Street Journal article on the current status of the battleground states for the November election.

The number of battleground states seems to vary between around 16 and 18 depending on one's count but this election will very likely come down to like 10% of voters in one-third of the states. For either Kerry or Bush to win, they must win this vote. If surprising things happen there could be a landslide for either of them and thus win by a large margin but these 3.3% of the people (10% of 33%) would still be the effective deciding factor - the other shifting voters would just be icing on the victory

Please everyone in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin get out and vote for Kerry. Even if you don't like him, he's got to be better than Bush.

Posted by aarondf at 02:00 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

February 12, 2004

Reforming Elections (Hare ballotting)

I have long been a supporter of Hare/Australian/Instant Runoff ballotting and figured I should post something here especially as a friend pointed out a nice site on the issue. The concept is perhaps best expressed in that everyone has a single transferrable vote which is excercised by ranking all or some of the candidates on a ballot. The effect is that you are voting for only your first choice candidate unless she is eliminated in which case your vote gets transferred to your second place candidate and so on. For eample, in 2000 probably most voters for Nader would have chosen Gore as a second choice so if Nader were eliminated (due to none of Gore, Nader or Bush having more than 50% of the vote [this can be on a per-state basis or nationwide] and Nader having the least votes of the three), his votes would have moved to each of his voter's second choices (probably overwhelmingly Gore).

I am a strong supporter of having a political system involving more than two parties where parties could advocate on real issues rather than just shifting around to try to be in the middle and get 51% of the vote as our current system is. Third parties will continue to fail horribly with our current system for exactly the reason of what happened in 2000. People who voted for Nader and got Bush will now switch to the Democrats. With the Hare system, they could support Nader in all good conscience, knowing their votes would transfer if he lost. With a good 3rd party, votes would then probably increase at each election. With our current system, no 3rd party has almost any chance, in the short or long term. Of course, for this very reason, this change will likely never happen as there will be broad agreement among the Republicans and Democrats to fight it and maintain their power.

Both the Hugo awards for SF and the International Gamers Awards also use the Hare ballotting system so at least my hobbies are on the ball.

Posted by aarondf at 05:33 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (1)

December 10, 2003

Followup to Cute

Followup image of the mommy tiger carrying one of the cubs.

Posted by aarondf at 01:40 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

November 18, 2003

Chocolate Chip Cookies

More efforts over the long weekend in my long search for the recipe for the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie for me which is big and cakey. I first tried the Good Eats recipe but found that the use of shortening over butter absolutely ruined the cookies for me as I just don't like it. I then tried another attempt with the Cook's Illustrated/ATK recipe with more but still not near perfect success. I think the low temperature cooking and referigerating the dough steps are definitely essential for the fat cookies I like. It was also a bad idea to use as many chips as I did but the recipe definitely needs more tweaks and I am not sure what they are.

The search goes on!

Posted by aarondf at 05:12 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

August 11, 2003

Kayak in the water

Well, I finally picked up my Kayak last Wednesday after something like 9 weeks of waiting for it. I took it out on Saturday on the Charles and had a nice time and am discovering which of the accessories I bought work and which don't. The life jacket and paddle both seem great and will be kept. The length of the paddle didn't feel at all too big while on the water. The cart I bought worked but with difficulty and I have now discovered one which is better in a number of respects so I am going to return the one I have. I also bought a headlamp as my main light at night and will return the expensive strobe light I bought. I also returned the pads and strap system for my car and will have to buy a real rack for my car if I want to take the boat farther than the Charles. I probably will go ahead with this at some point but see no rush in it.

Anyway, I won't be out again till I do the cart swap and I also got a big blister on my thumb so want that to heal and may need to buy paddling gloves of some sort.

Posted by aarondf at 10:49 AM | Miscellaneous | Comments (1)

July 28, 2003

Top 50 Magazines

I was pointed to what seems a very good list of the Top 50 Magazines, selected by the Chicago Tribune. The list seems pretty good with Cook's Illustrated which I've recommended here before at the top. There are several I would probably be willing to subscribe to in terms of the money but I have a feeling I wouldn't find the time to read them. (via What's in Rebecca's Pocket)

Posted by aarondf at 05:11 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

Play Reading

Went to David's for the second reading of his first play on mathematician Kurt Godel. The play was significantly revised, with the whole structure changing and a bunch of scene changes as well. As before, I quite enjoyed the reading although it got quite hot after a while and my chair was uncomfortable which detracted a bit from my enjoyment. I hope David manages to get this on a real stage!

Posted by aarondf at 01:21 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

July 24, 2003

Pub Trivia 3

Back for Trivia at the Kinvara last night but this time with Matt replacing Bill. This left us a more balanced team as Matt knew most of the tv/music/movies/sports questions but didn't know other categories well at all, whereas Bill was good at everything. Although perhaps not quite as strong overall, the more balance left me feeling much more useful in terms of answering questions. As with the past two weeks, we went into the final question with a slight lead and the category was TV which is a very strong one for Matt, although not good for Mark or I. The question was "What soap opera has had the longest run and in fact has the second longest run overall of all shows after Meet the Press?" Matt right away thought of Guiding Light although then heavily started second-guessing it but I was pretty sure he was right based on his quick response even though I personally didn't have a clue on the question, and we submitted it and got it right for a winning score of 99 for a $40 gift certficiate which covered most of our bill.

Posted by aarondf at 11:35 AM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

July 17, 2003

Pub Trivia 2

Well, Mark, Bill and I again went to do trivia this week. We again did quite well, heading into the final question (which is worth a LOT) with the lead but the category was "Sports" which is our worst category, particularly since they are often Baseball questions which is the sport I know least about. I was hoping the question would be a really tough one which almost nobody would get but it turned out it was "What team did the Red Sox beat to win the 1918 World Series?" which is, in Boston, a very easy question all things considered. Despite that, none of us knew it which was sad! We couldn't even remember, of the teams we thought of, which ones were in the National League so it came down to basically a guess between the Cubs, White Sox and Senators and we chose the Senators but bid very low. It was the Cubs but surprisingly only one team passed us by so we ended up second, winning a $30 gift certificate covering a good portion of our food and beer.

Oh, there was one other very funny thing. We went again with the team name "We No Grok" after my teammates rejected my alternate suggestion of "Death to Shrubs". Well, another team's name was "What the Hell is Grok?" which I think is particularly funny as they probably think we are "We Know Grok" since they only hear the name and think grok is a person or thing or something. For anyone who doesn't know what 'grok' is, read Stranger in a Strange Land. I came up with the team name after learning that 'grok' was used in The 76th annual Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee on Making Light.

Posted by aarondf at 12:09 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

July 10, 2003

Pub Trivia

Went to a local pub that Mark knew about last night for their regular Wednesday night trivia game. This obviously drew a lot of people as the place got crowded just before the game started and there were like 25 teams. Our team was Mark, Bill and I which was small but pretty good. The questions were fun and interesting and pretty hard. For the most part, Bill carried us with the high point being when they gave us a choice of two questions (one on Rap, one on Rock) with 4 answers each and Bill knew all the answers for both. We also were lucky with a couple of guesses and headed into the final question (which is worth a lot) in the lead by one point.

I hadn't been that useful (other than contributing our team name We no Grok) up to this point but the question was "What city is the highest (elevation) in the world?" and he then clarified it to indicate it was a capital. Well, I didn't know the highest city but was sure I had been taught in high school that La Paz, Bolivia was the highest capital in the world so we went with that - the only other suggested try being Kathmandu, Nepal. Well, it turns out Lhasa, Tibet was the answer which is definitely higher but is debatable whether it is a capital due to Tibet being subsumed by China. The announcer called it the capital of the 'autonomous region' called Tibet. When I got home I looked it up and found this excellent answer. Only one or two teams actually got this right but there was also a bidding element to guessing and we had bid a lot so in missing we moved to fourth. This won us tshirts (as opposed to gift certificates) which I was actually happier with until the tshirts turned out to be totally generic and lame with just a big bottle of Coors and a football on the front. Still, fun time and I think we will go again. With a good fourth, we could probably cruise.

Posted by aarondf at 10:35 AM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

June 27, 2003

Travelling

I am still travelling this week, in Seattle for work and was also travelling last week for the Oasis of Fun in Atlanta. I'll write more about both trips when I return.

Posted by aarondf at 12:52 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

June 02, 2003

Ordered a Kayak

I went to a Kayak demo put on by Bob Smith's Wilderness House, which is a nice outdoor equipment store just up the street from my office. They had 30 or so boats set up which people could try out on a nice lake for as long as they wanted all weekend. I really can't see any way other than this for choosing a kayak if you don't already know what you want. I tried about 6 boats and while no boat had everything (some of the things I wanted are basically contradictory - speed vs stability and such), I eventually did settle on a favorite. I quickly decided that, if possible, I wanted a boat by Wilderness Systems as they have a seat system that was much more conformtable than other boats I have tried, especially given my lower back problems. Their Tempest 170 was a gorgeous, high-performance boat, but it was also kind of cramped and VERY expensive ($1300 there and $3000+ in Kevlar/Fiberglass). I settled on the Pungo 140 for its great stability, excellent tracking and best comfort of all the boats I tried. It will only be of moderate speed and limited to really basic sea kayaking but on rivers and lakes it should be great. I called the store back on Sunday after I decided and ended up having to order it to get the color I want (Red of course) which will take 4 weeks or so but is worth it to me and I am still getting it at their show discount price which is also less than any price I found on this boat after a quick web search.

I now have to look into buying a paddle, life jacket, kayak cart and other accessories but have a while in which to do that. More later when the boat arrives.

Posted by aarondf at 04:39 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

May 16, 2003

Talk: RMS

Richard Stallman, founder of GNU and the Free Software Foundation, came here to BU to talk yesterday. I had heard him talk on the radio, video and read some of his writings but this was my first time seeing him speak in person. He turned out to be an excellent speaker, with lots of humor; somewhat unexpected from my previous knowledge of him and how radical and abrasive his reputation is. At the end of the talk, he did put on a Gnu (the animal) smock and a disc Halo to become the Saint Ignutius which really is pretty appropriate given his unswerving vision and devotion to his cause. This was my favorite line from his talk (paraphrased):

There came a point where the Free Software Foundation had enough money to hire a full-time developer. I [Stallman], as president of the FSF, had to decide whether to hire Stallman [me] or someone else. I realized, though, that hiring Stallman would be like throwing the money away as we could get him to work for free so we hired the other person.

At the end of the talk, however, his abrasiveness came through when it came time for questions. He handled questions possibly worse than any speaker I have ever seen, despite all the questions being pro-FSF. He interrupted questions to make a point and then, once the question was asked, basically completely ignored it to say something else. He also was horrible at accepting thank-yous for his work. Still, a very interesting talk and I was quite glad I went.

I also imagine his speaking skills, which really were good, are entirely learned and not at all natural and think of this as a positive sign. Thanks, RMS, for your great work. You really are a modern day Saint.

Posted by aarondf at 11:47 AM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

May 12, 2003

Mother's Day

Went to play games at D's place on Sunday for a while but left early to cook dinner for my Mom. She had gone to the Opera with a friend in the afternoon and ended up getting to my place a bit later than first anticipated but that was fine and I had a chance to prepare more in advance. At her request, I made cheese Fondue and we had a couple of bottles of wine, salad and the last part of a loaf of bread I had gotten from Henretta's Kitchen (which is delicious and huge but super-expensive). Everything was excellent if I do say so myself and after dinner we watched Amelie (below) although I took a break in the middle in order to cook up K's recipe for Creme de la Provence, a wonderful French mini chocolate upside down cake, served with ice cream and strawberries. Very nice day.

After dinner, I was feeling the wine so took a walk in the wonderfully cool evening air by the Charles and said hi a couple of times to a pair of geese who were a little upriver from their usual location.

Posted by aarondf at 04:52 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

May 08, 2003

Day Off

Took the day off yesterday to get my hair cut, see X2 and do a few other things. Was a really nice day and I quite enjoyed it. Also caught up on some TiVo'd stuff and, as I walked by an EMS, continue to think more and more seriously about getting a kayak for on the Charles and some light coastal paddling. I want something light enough I can carry it from my house to the river (about 3 blocks) but that still is reasonably quick and tracks well and of course is comfortable. I have seen a couple of possiblities but would really like to try them before buying and am not sure how I can do that.

Posted by aarondf at 11:51 AM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)