Archive for the ‘Thanks’ Category

Random notes, some administrative, for April 23, 2014.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Apologies for the extended radio silence. The past few days have been busy.

As many of the Whipped Cream Irregulars know, Sunday was my birthday, as well as Easter. This will not happen again until 2025.

Anyway, Mike the Musicologist came up late Friday night, rented a Silvercar, and we drove down to San Antonio on Saturday to do some gun shopping, tour Ranger Creek (which will be the subject of another post), and have dinner with Andrew and Lawrence at Bohanan’s (which may be the subject of another post).

I spent Easter Sunday with family, eating an excellent ham from the Noble Pig and a very good cake baked by my sister. (I don’t remember which cookbook she got the recipe from, but I thought it was very good; perhaps she’ll post here and update.)

Then on Monday, MtM and I took the Silvercar to Dallas, where we did some more gun shopping (including a stop at Cabela’s, but not that one), had a very good lunch at Chop House Burgers, and did some shopping for tacky souvenirs of pre-revolutionary America at the 6th Floor Museum shop.

So Saturday through Monday were jam packed. (For the record, I did not buy any guns. Though I was really tempted by the Sig Sauer 1911 22 at GrabAGun. I was also tempted at one of the San Antonio gun stores that had a couple of Nylon 66s, but I just can’t bring myself to pay $350 for one, even if it did have a scope.)

(Edited to add: Also, $1,300 for a K-22, even if it was an early post-war gun with the box, seems really really high.)

Anyway, I’m back and trying to get caught up on blogging. Profuse thanks to MtM for organizing the weekend.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#10 in a series)

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Echo Sling.

Remember I wrote a while back about the raffle for Bonnie? Matt Rodgers, the guy behind the Echo Sling, was nice enough to donate several of them to the raffle, and to the Squeak or Treat raffle the great and good Erin Palette was running as well.

And I was lucky enough to win one.

Which has been sitting on the gun cabinet since early November, for various uninteresting reasons. (If you want to say “because you’re slow and lazy”, well, that’s a pretty good summary.)

I actually went to install mine last night, and discovered something that would make the late Col. Cooper cry; none of my current long guns has sling swivels installed. (That’s stretching the truth just a bit; my sporterized M1917 Enfield does have sling swivels. However, it lacks sights; I’ve been saving my pennies to put some good glass on it.) I would have sworn one of my two 10/22s had swivels. Or failing that, the Marlin I bought as a car gun. Or some other gun from the arsenal. But noooooooooooooooo! Apparently, this is something to add to the “things I need to fix” list.

So I can’t bring you a review of the Echo Sling, because I can’t review it, because I’m not set up to review it. Yet.

So why am I writing about it and endorsing it, when I haven’t actually used it yet? Reason one: reliable sources say it is an excellent product. And I believe them.

Reason two: because Matt Rodgers deserves some sort of “thank you” for his donations. So call this a long overdue “thank you, Matt”.

Reason three: word through the gun blogger grapevine is that Echo Sling is struggling a bit at the moment, and I’d like for them to hang around until I can pick up at least two or three more Echo Slings. So this is my small way of helping out someone who’s a good guy. (If he wasn’t a good guy, would he have pitched in for Bonnie?)

Look at it this way: the Echo Sling is only $22 – $23 shipped to your freaking door. For that little money, how can you not at least take a flyer on one? You’ve probably spent that much money on a bad lunch, and I promise you the Echo Sling is much more satisfying.

Especially since the Echo Sling is engineered to withstand German Shepherds.

I’ll provide a comprehensive review once I’m able to get it set up and running on one of my long guns, but for now, consider this an official WCD endorsement.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#9 in a series)

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Texas Saké Company.

These folks are interesting for a couple of reasons:

  • They are making saké in Texas.
  • They use Texas rice to make their saké.
  • If it matters to you, the rice they use and the saké they produce are both organic.

Mike the Musicologist and I went down to their tasting room yesterday and had a flight of the four varieties of saké they currently produce. Their Tumbleweed Saké is a very dry, kind of light tasting saké; it really doesn’t have any kind of assertive flavor, just a kind of dry mouth feel. I believe Mike liked this one the best out of the four. As for me, I think this is an excellent drinking saké, but not a sipping one.

I slightly prefer the Whooping Crane for a clear saké. This has some nice floral notes, and is closer to what I’d consider a sipping saké.

The Rising Star is an unfiltered saké with a very assertive taste. I think this would match very well with food; I’d like to try it with some barbecue, perhaps.

The fourth saké we had was a “double nigori” unfiltered saké. If I remember correctly, not only is that one unfiltered, but they add additional rice sediment in the brewing process. Again, this is another one that I think would pair well with food; the taste is even more assertive than that of the single nigori.

Don’t get me wrong: all four of the sakés we had were very good, and I commend them to your attention. Mike, who is more of a saké connoisseur than I am, commented that they tasted different than what he was used to. Not “bad”, just “different”. I suspect that there are several factors involved; brewing style, perhaps, or a taste difference between Texas and Japanese rice. If you’re not a fan of Japanese saké, the Texas saké may still be worth a try for that reason. In Austin, you can find at least some of them at Whole Foods and Central Market.

And I’d also like to note that the folks at the tasting room – Toji, the head brewer, and the young lady who was helping him – were very nice to us. The tasting room isn’t a big place, and there were quite a few people there, and we didn’t have reservations, but they still went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

Unfortunately, the tasting room is closing down for the summer: it also doubles as the brewery, and apparently it is just too hot to make saké during the summer in Texas. But Texas Saké is having their second anniversary party on September 28th, so you might clear your calendar if you live in the Austin area.

These are swell folks, and they make an excellent product. I’d very much like to see them succeed to the point where they can’t sleep at night because there are too many $100 bills stuffed in the mattress.

I went back to Ohio, but my city was gone.

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Well, not really “gone”. I hadn’t been back to Ohio for nine years, and it amazed me somewhat both how much and how little has changed.

For example, there’s an entire grocery chain that I don’t remember from my last trip…that takes the Discover card and cash. No Visa/AmEx/MasterCard/Diner’s Club, not even debt cards with a PIN, just cash and Discover. Who came up with this idea?

On the other hand, the tractor tire store that was a landmark on the way to Grandma’s place is still there, after 40 something years. And Grandma’s place still feels remote from everything, even though there’s major strip centers at the end of her road, and even though much of the land was sold off over the past few years (and now has houses sitting on it).

And the old NASA hanger is still visible from the airport. That was another landmark for us kids. (My dad worked there, back when it was still the Lewis Research Center, before it was renamed “NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field“. Which is a mouthful. Not that I’m bitter or anything over the renaming; by gosh, if anyone deserved to have a NASA facility named after him, it was John Glenn.)

This is shaping up to be a long post, and sort of “stream of consciousness”, so I’m going to put the rest of it behind a jump. Before I do, here’s Grandma’s obituary, just for the record.

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No Sleep Till Sunday.

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

In my previous post, I talked a little about the non-technical “amenities” (for want of a better word) at YAPC 2013. In this post, I want to talk some about the technical presentations at the conference, and a bit about the social aspects.

One thing I really liked about YAPC was the “Hallway Track”, or “Hallway++”. The basic idea behind “Hallway++” appears to have come from a gentleman named Matt S. Trout, and is based on two key ideas:

  1. The most valuable discussions often take place, not during talks, but in the hallway between talks.
  2. Too many people are afraid of disturbing or bothering someone in the hallway, and thus discussions don’t get started.

Thus, Hallway++. Hallway++ participants wear a sticker on their badge, or some other indicator to show they’re participating in Hallway++.

If you see somebody with Hallway++ on their badge, or a group with a sign saying Hallway++ on their table, that tells you in advance that you won’t be interrupting.

At least, it means you won’t be rudely interrupting – you may walk up to me and be told “frantically working on slides, please find me sometime after my next talk”, or you may walk up to a group and be told “sorry, we’re discussing a startup idea, we’ll wave when we’re done”.

The point here is to flip the defaults – for this symbol to say “I would rather risk a brief disruption to whatever I’m doing than risk missing out on an interesting conversation.”

So the Hallway++ badge/sign tells you that this person would rather you did try to talk to them, and not to worry about it.

I like this idea. I like this idea a lot. I want to marry it and have babies with it. More seriously, I would like to see this idea extended beyond technical conferences; I am seriously considering taking it to WorldCon if I end up going.

Did it work? Well, I had a fair number of quick interactions with participants, but no deep technical conversations. That’s more on me, though; in retrospect, I should have sought out more Hallway++ participants and tried harder to strike up conversations. (This is, as everyone knows, a hard thing for me.) Mr. Trout made what I thought was an interesting point in his talk on Wednesday: he’d thought Hallway++ would be a signal to introverts that it was okay to talk to extroverts, but as it turned out it was more of a symbol to extroverts that it was okay to talk to the introverts.

Another social note: YAPC 2013 in particular, and I believe YAPC in general (but since this was my first one, I can’t prove it) is very welcoming to first-time attendees. Monday morning, we were told that we (the first-time attendees) were considered to be VIPs, and would be treated as such: from the point of view of the YAPC organizers, we are the future of the language, and thus they want to treat us well

In that vein, I’d like to publicly thank Wendy Van Dijk for taking myself and several other first-time attendees under her wing on Monday night and taking us to dinner with her, Gabor Szabo, and about eight other folks whose names I didn’t catch. Not only did Wendy drag invite us along, she even paid for part of the dinner. Thanks, Wendy, and if we’re ever at another YAPC together, or if I make it to the Netherlands, I hope to be able to reciprocate.

What of the talks? I didn’t take detailed DEFCON level notes on them, but here’s a list of the ones I went to, along with comments as appropriate. Things were structured so that there was a morning ‎plenary‎ session with breakfast (to cover important announcements) and a later afternoon single track of presentations by prominent figures, leading into the 10 minute lightning talks. So I did go to the “Welcome to YAPC” talk as well as Mark Keating’s “The Perl of Christmas Past”, since those were single tracks and the other option was to stand outside and eat pigs in a blanket.

Here’s some of the other stuff I liked. (Slides) indicates that the slides for that talk are available from the linked page at the time I write this. YAPC did live streaming video during the talks, and has a video page where they plan to upload talk videos post-conference:

tl,dr: YAPC 2013 was one of the best events I’ve been to, from both a technical standpoint and an organizational standpoint.

Would I go back? That’s a problem for me. I don’t program in Perl professionally, so I don’t have someone who will pay my way. If I’m paying out of my own pocket, with airfare and hotel it becomes a budget stretch, and I don’t feel like I can afford YAPC, the S&WCA convention, and DEFCON every year. (At the moment, I can’t even afford the latter two this year.)

But next time YAPC is in my backyard (defined as “someplace I can reasonably drive to”) I’ll stay at the Motel 6. Or the Motel 3 1/2.

Thanks again to Wendy, the YAPC 2013 organizers, the good folks at the job fair, the presenters, and anyone else I may have forgotten. (Please feel free to tell me I forgot you in the comments.)

(Subject line hattip.)

Administrative note.

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Graduation is over. Back on your heads.

More seriously, the time for introspection has passed. (Also the time for action.) Expect a return to snark, guns, snark, cops, snark, pop culture, snark, art, and snark.

I still have a few things to finish up: thank you notes are being written and mailed, and I need to go through the photos and pull some out for posting.

In the meantime, frankly, things have been kind of slow. I’m not finding a lot of blog fodder; FARK has picked up most of the good stuff, including some “Art, damn it, art!” fodder.

Lawrence did send me an intriguing link yesterday about Rielle Hunter, equestrian, and how her father paid a hit man to kill one of her horses. That William Nack story rings a bell with me, like I’ve read it before, but I don’t remember where. Setting aside the John Edwards angle, it is a fascinating crime story. It reminds me of Skip Hollandsworth’s “The Killing of Alydar”, which was anthologized in one of the The Best American Crime Writing volumes, and which I also commend to your attention. (I believe the BugMeNot link on the side will let you read the full version of the story online, but BugMeNot is blocked at the office, so I can’t verify that.)

I would also like to add one final note, for the record: I will put my family, friends, and coworkers up against any other group of people for sheer concentrated awesomeness. Thanks, gang.

A long overdue thank you note.

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

I want to write about someone I don’t know personally, but yet I feel an obligation to them.

This is hard to do. If you don’t carry it off right, you come across as a creepy stalker. Of course, I am not a creepy stalker. At least, not of this person; my creepy stalker exploits are reserved for Kate Winslet (I have been a proud member of the “Kate Winslet Creepy Obsessed Stalker Web Ring” since 1994). I also do hire out my services as a stalker to certain people I know personally. Writing about Marc Randazza made me feel strange and kind of stalkerish, but in his case I had some public accomplishments that I could point to.

More seriously, I’m not saying anything profound by pointing out that electronic interaction is weird. I can have friends I see rarely, and who I communicate with only through the Internet. (There’s a person I know who I would jump in front of a bullet for without hesitation. She lives in London, and the last time I saw her in person was in 1997. Much of our friendship has been mediated through electronic interaction; email, chats on the old Delphi network, and things of that ilk.) There are people I’ve come in contact with since I started this blog who I consider friends, but haven’t met – yet. (But the NRA convention is in Houston next year. Just saying.)

So. Anyway.

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Where do we get such men?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller was awarded the Medal of Honor on Wednesday.

Sgt. Miller’s unit was ambushed by a group of about 100 insurgents in the Gowardesh Valley of Afghanistan on January 25, 2008. Miller’s unit was pinned down and exposed to devastating fire.

Miller radioed to his fellow troops to seek cover. He then charged the enemy, killing at least 10 insurgents and giving the Afghan and U.S. troops a chance to move to a safer spot, according to U.S. Army reports.

By the way, the award was posthumous; Sgt. Miller was killed in the firefight.

(NYT article.)

After action report: Las Vegas, NV.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I covered a lot of stuff in my previous travel report, so this will mostly just be updates.

  • Project e worked spectacularly well at DEFCON. This is the first chance I’ve had to really push the battery life, and I was able to get an good 12+ hours out of the battery without running it totally dry. (This was with the machine set to “powersave” and putting it into “standby” or “hibernate” when I was in the dealer’s room, or driving around with Mike the Musicologist and Andrew. Continuous usage with the wireless would have been more like 6+ hours, I think, which is still pretty impressive.)
  • My one regret is that I forgot my Alfa external WiFi adapter. I would have enjoyed playing with that at the convention.
  • The 5.11 bailout bag also worked out well for lugging around Project e and various other equipment. Again, I was able to carry a pretty good load, including the laptop, charger, books, a couple of bottles of water,  the small camera, and miscellaneous other necessities.
  • MtM has the Nikon with him and has been taking a lot of photos. As you saw below, I did use the Nikon to take some Gehry photos. When I have more time, I’m going to put up an expanded and annotated Flickr photo set; I did some side-by-side experiments with aperture priority vs. automatic exposure.
  • Food in Las Vegas was, without exception, pretty darn good. The worst meal I had (at the Four Kegs) was still better than average (and I didn’t order the stromboli, which is the house specialty). We also had a very good (if loud) tapas meal at Firefly* on Paradise, the usual wonderful meal at Lotus of Siam, the previously mentioned dinner at Shabu-Shabu Paradise, and a Moroccan meal at Marrakech. (I had not previously had Moroccan food, so I can’t comment on how authentic it was. I certainly enjoyed my meal, and the belly dancer didn’t hurt.)

    Vegas does have something of a shortage of good breakfast places outside of the casinos (and even inside of the casinos, if you’re not looking for a buffet). We had several good breakfasts at Blueberry Hill on Flamingo and one excellent breakfast at The Egg and I on Sahara. I know that MtM and Andrew went to a good Italian place in New York, New York while I was at the convention, and I’ll let them comment on that.
  • Between Tucson and Las Vegas, the refurbished Kindle I ordered arrived, and it went on this trip. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about the Kindle later on, but my first impression is “Meh”. I did manage to read John Clark’s Ignition! in PDF format and a Project Gutenberg MOBI format copy of Heart of Darkness without too much trouble, but my experiences with other PDF files and eBooks have been inconsistent.
  • On the other hand, I finished, and highly recommend, Ubuntu for Non-Geeks 4th Edition and am almost finished with Cisco Routers for the Desperate 2nd Edition (also recommended). No Starch Press rocks. And the coupon code “DEFCON18″ will get you a 30% discount. And they’re running a half-price sale on all e-books.
  • My Southwest experience this time was much more pleasant. No misplaced bags, and no flight delays. One thing that was particularly unusual was going through the security line in Las Vegas; I had, literally, no wait. Just walked straight up to the TSA agent and got in line for the metal detector. It took longer to take my shoes off and the laptop out than it did to get through the rest of security.

My thanks to, in no particular order, the DEFCON 18 staff and presenters, No Starch Press, UNIX Surplus, SEREPick, Lotus of Siam, Shabu-Shabu Paradise, Sarah at the iBar in the Rio, and the unknown belly dancer at Marrakech.

Special thanks to my high-speed, low-drag travel companions in the primary, Mike the Musicologist and Andrew “Porous concrete? What were they thinking?” Wimsatt.

I baked you a cake, but I eated it.

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

I’ll be on the road tomorrow, but I did want to note that it is the one year anniversary of Whipped Cream Difficulties.

I’d like to thank Lawrence, Earl, Mike the Musicologist, the crew at Popehat (especially Ken and Patrick), Jay G., Cranky Prof (who I will pour out a 40 for; seriously, Cranky Prof deserves a much longer thank you from me, and I hope to write that someday. In the meantime, I hope she’s out there somewhere terrorizing the stupid and being the shepherd of lost souls.), the rest of the Friday Night Dinner and Saturday Dining Conspiracy gang, and the members of the Academy. I’m probably forgetting some other folks who also deserve thanks; sorry about that, chief. Drop me a line, and I’ll update.

Edited to add: Joe D., too.

I would tell the Google Ads people what they could do, but my mother has been known to read this blog. Suffice it to say, it involves a rusty fence post, a mile of barbed wire, an uncomfortable place, and no lubricant.

Administrative note.

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Well, this stinks. Just when Jay G. adds me to his blogroll (and thank you very much, Jay), I’m going to be tied up most of the weekend.

Blogging will either be light or heavy, depending on how busy I am and the availability of wifi.

(I do have two endorsement posts I want to write, and at least one draft post I’ve been trying to put finishing touches on for months. In honor of Jay, I’m also thinking about doing some light gun porn, but we’ll see.)

Heroes for more than one day.

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

(I originally had this as an “Edited to add” to the previous post, but decided that it deserved to be broken out into a stand-alone entry.)

Here’s something to get the taste of the last link out of your mouth, and restore your faith in humanity. The Los Angeles County District Attorney gave Courageous Citizen Awards to Quoleshna Elbert and Larry Harnisch yesterday. Ms. Elbert and Mr. Harnisch intervened in a brutal domestic violence incident at considerable personal risk; the victim lived, but sustained serious and permanent injuries.

This is noteworthy to me because Mr. Harnisch works for the LAT as a copy editor. He also runs the paper’s indispensable “Daily Mirror” blog, which highlights L.A. history using excerpts from the local papers. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Harnisch (though I hope to someday) but I’ve admired his work ever since reading his extensively researched takedown of the horrible Donald Wolfe book about the Black Dahlia murder.

Well done, sir, and thank you.

(Hattip: L.A. Observed.)