Alternate blogging interfaces

SocialDynamix, who make a front end for Radio, now have a beta of a similar product for Manila, code named Smart Manila, that allows you to manage multiple Radio and Manila sites with a single client side UI. Windows only.

Usual start up pains. I’m not sure why, but the tool couldn’t automatically find my XML-RPC gateway from my Manila site address. Once I manually entered the address, by appending /RPC2 to the edit site URL, it was good to go.

Now it’s trying to download every single post I’ve ever done. Since I’ve been blogging daily for almost three years, it’s going to take a LONG time. Later today I’ll try posting something from there.

I also have been playing around with .Text, the .Net-based blogging framework for Windows. Unfortunately the blog isn’t publicly accessible (I’m using it to become one of those embedded behind-the-firewall department-level bloggers), but the framework seems pretty good. But where are the GUI clients? I am really coming to hate editing blogs in a browser. It’s good to have the capability every now and then, but as a daily thing it’s not the best interface in the world.

Emergency maintenance, part 2: blogger on the roof

Concluding the house nightmares of my three day weekend: if you had been outside my house at 1:30 on Monday afternoon, you would have seen a wet, desperate man on our roof, swearing, with bleeding hands pulling muck out of a gutter.

No, I didn’t lose my mind, and no, I didn’t miss cleaning our gutters so much that I decided to do it in the middle of the pouring rain. But circumstances, alas, forced my hand.

We were sitting on our couch watching a video and waiting for the rain to let up, when I felt a drop on my head. I looked up and didn’t see anything, shrugged, looked down—and felt another drop. This time when I looked up, I saw a slight dark ring around the base of our ceiling fan. “Uh-oh,” I said. I thought a shingle had blown off, or maybe some of the high winds had thrown a heavy branch onto the roof and poked a hole in it. And this was in the new part of the house—the roof was only four years old.

So, swearing, I checked both attic spaces but couldn’t see through to the affected section. I pulled the blueprints for the addition out of the garage and studied the roof line. It looked like there was a ridge running right up the middle of the roof section on the outside, joining the main roof right above the fan. So I assumed there was a problem with the ridge shingles.

I grabbed a flashlight and headed out the bedroom window. Walking the roofline, I didn’t see anything obvious, just a few places where the high winds of the last few months had undone all my hard work on my gutters. I pulled a few clumps of pine needles free at the upper end and let some accumulated water drain down. Then I walked to the lower side, where a valley formed between the new roof and the old roof, and allowed water to drain off into a short section of gutter. Or should have. I saw a deep pool in the valley that must have been several feet long; plunging my hand in, the water covered my thumb knuckle. I cursed, and started rooting around trying to find the blockage.

About ten minutes, and several barked knuckles, later, I finally found that if I applied slight upward pressure to the shingles from the new roof that sloped over the bottom part of the valley, I could slip a few fingers inside and scrape out the foul swampish muck that was blocking the water from draining. The pool emptied, and I came back in. I think the pool had backed up far enough that the water rose above the protective rubber seal in the valley and came into the inside of the roof, where it meandered until it found its way down around the ceiling fan.

So far there have been no repeats of the problem, but I won’t be messing around. We’ll be hiring someone to come out and cover the gutters, and have a good look at what can be done to prevent the valley from blocking up again.

So much for great days off. sideways smiley


I’m baching it again this week, but with a twist. In the past I’ve been lonely and depressed with Lisa gone. Now I’m nervous, anxious, and harried—and happy, chasing after the puppies.

And I’m buried under the weight of 183 subscriptions and 577 unread headlines… At least the guys seem to be settling in for the evening. This is all by way of apology—blogging may be light for the next day or three.

Oh, and though I almost think it would be a bigger surprise if I did show up, I won’t be at the Weblog Meetup tomorrow for the same reason.

Emergency maintenance, part 1: Prodigal dog

It was an exciting weekend around the house. On Sunday afternoon, Lisa and I got outside to do some long overdue garden cleanup. We hadn’t done much weeding, or anything else outside, since the dogs arrived. So we took our tools and let the dogs run around, secure in the knowledge that our yard was securely fenced.

Or so we thought. I was getting ready to help Lisa transplant some roses when I looked up and saw Joy, our 6.5 pound little girl puppy, run behind my compost bin. I didn’t think too much about it, but when I stood up a second later, she was gone. I couldn’t see her anywhere.

I walked the fence line calling her name, thinking she might have just scampered along under the bushes. Then I doubled back to where I had last seen her and my heart sank. Where the mound of ivy in the back corner of the yard had been flush against the ground, it was now pushed up and there were signs of a small creature having gone into the ivy. I now had visions of something horrid with poisonous teeth having bitten our dog as she stumbed about in the ivy. I continued to call her name, but with no avail.

We enlisted our next door neighbor, who was doing gardening as well, but he didn’t see her in his yard. I returned to the ivy again, and pulled back more of it until I got to the corner where our back fence met our neighbor’s. Or more precisely, didn’t. I could now see a four inch gap between the two fences, just big enough for a six pound dog to wriggle through.

At the same moment, our neighbor called from the yard behind his, “I found her!” She had gone through the gap into the yard diagonally opposite ours, which fortunately was also fenced, and was sitting puzzled listening to me call her name, as if (our neighbor said) she didn’t remember how she got there and couldn’t figure out how to get back. I held the ivy up again so I could see the gap in the fence and called her name, and this time she figured it out and came running back.

I picked her up and held her close. She seemed puzzled as to what all the fuss was about. I reunited her with Lisa and Jefferson and we all shuddered for a second in gratitude that the problem wasn’t worse. Then we took her inside for a good bath—she was filthy.

Oh, the emergency maintenance I mentioned? Sometime today or tomorrow, I’m ripping all that ivy out by the roots and putting a patch across the gap in that fence. No way I’m going through that again.

A President’s Day

Lisa and I are taking the day off today. Neither of our employers observes Presidents’ Day, but we both have flexible holidays, and since Lisa is heading to a conference for the rest of the week she decided to take pity on me and help me get ready for my first days alone with the dogs.

So we’re sitting down watching the Today Show and finishing our breakfast. A little about Kerry and Edwards. Nothing about Washington or Lincoln. In fact, the only president I’ve come close to this weekend was Thomas Jefferson, and he only as a quote on the back of a bottle of Vacqueyras: “Good wine is a necessity of life for me.” Which illustrates one secret of being a memorable president: be quotable. (As opposed to Washington, whose collected letters appear to consist entirely of military orders or farm business.)

So why has Presidents’ Day become just another day for car sales? Isn’t soldiering on against the British, or saving the Union and freeing the slaves, worthy of memory?

There’s a word used in literary criticism which plays much more strongly in Christian liturgy: anamnesis. Not just remembering, it is actually a “bringing forward” of actions into the present so that we enter the moment again. It happens at major holidays for Christians, and at a few major secular holidays (the Fourth of July comes to mind). Presidents’ Day is not one of them.

But looking at the Cincinnatus of our country, who not only held the British at bay long enough for the French to join us and drive them to surrender but also held together the most amazingly talented collection of advisors in US history—John Adams, Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph. Keeping them from killing each other must have been a full time job in itself.

So, take a moment today to bring forward that other famous Virginian president into the present.

Recreating an engagement

Lisa and I were engaged seven years ago yesterday. It was a romantic Valentine’s Day engagement, with all the foreknowledge and planning that phrase implies. Neither party was surprised by timing or question.

What was surprising, given our joint culinary abilities, was how bad the meal was. We cooked in Lisa’s one bedroom apartment, which had a teacup-sized galley kitchen that was quite big enough for the meal we wanted to make. The meal was typically simple in scope, elaborate in details: duck breasts with blackberry sauce, angel food cake with orange glaze; vegetables that have been forgotten; and white wine with appetizers, Châteauneuf-du-Pape with the duck, and champagne with dessert.

Or that was the plan. The catch? Several. The angel food cake took a long time to assemble from scratch and there wasn’t enough room in the kitchenette to make the duck. So we didn’t start the duck until after 9 pm. The next catch was the provenance of the duck: it was a gift game duck from my uncle. I removed the breasts easily enough, but cooking it proved another challenge. I found the meat tough after the initial searing and pancooking and decided to try to braise it to soften it. Forty minutes cooking in liquid later, it was still like shoe leather. In fact, we couldn’t cut it with a steak knife. But we could drink wine, and did, and so the proposal happened and the disaster of the rest of the meal was almost forgotten.

This year, on the seventh anniversary, we decided to try the recipes again. Yesterday. This time the duck was farm-raised, and that made all the difference. I could have reduced the sauce longer, but what the heck. And substitute a sparkling moscato for the champagne, and we had a great time.

The keiretsu in full effect

The keiretsu has been a little quiet the past few months. Now with Esta’s blog active again it comes roaring back. Evidence:

  • In Esta’s latest post, she reclaims the b-word for all her sistahs and notes the inherent sexism in curses: “If you call a woman who’s just out-and-out mean ‘bitch,’ why not call mean men ‘bitch’ as well? Or why not call a mean woman ‘asshole’?”
  • George finds an Italian neighborhood place in North Beach which accomplishes the miracle of “good eats at reasonable prices” in the most expensive city on the West Coast.
  • Craig is hooked on politics, and it’s not my fault: “Why don’t I just retype each wonkette entry into my blog?”
  • And Greg has the final word: “This wave of popularity Kerry keeps riding reminds me of a pyramid scheme…I don’t hear a message coming from the Kerry camp; I just hear pleasant, but meaningless, slogans. Pardon my saying so, but we can do better than that.”

QTN™: Kleinbrouwerij de Landtsheer Malheur

Today’s beer is Malheur, from Kleinbrouwerij de Landtsheer, a Belgian traditional-revival “microbrewery.” This bottle conditioned Belgian ale is spicy with notes of clove and ginger and even a little banana from the yeast, with floral hops up front on the palate and a long dry finish. Michael Jackson (the beer MJ) notes that the brewery uses their own fresh hops which explains the unusually floral character of the beer.

The name? That’s a better story. There’s a uniquely Belgian style of strong blonde ales that all have names like “Duvel” (devil), “Lucifer,” “Mort Subite” (Sudden Death), and “Delerium Tremens.” Malheur? It means “misfortune.” Ironic, for such a good beer.

Spring comes early

jefferson as a vermeer
After the big snows we had (relatively speaking) in January, it’s weird how nice the weather has been this week. Most days have started out in the mid thirties and climbed to the mid fifties, and there’s been enough sun to make me pop the roof open on the car a few days. Meanwhile our crocuses (croci?) are starting to pop open, the irises and other bulb flowers are putting up green leaves, and I heard pine cones popping open over my head while I was walking the dogs yesterday. And it’s not even Valentines’ Day yet.

One thing the sunlight is doing is making me realize how behind we are in our weeding and gardening. Our beds are ragged and untidy and we haven’t pruned any of the trees. I feel a little like the guests are getting here to the dinner party before we’ve swept the floor.

Fixing iTunes CDDB lookup – more details

Since Apple’s forums don’t seem to support permalinks, the hint I previously posted about fixing iTunes for Windows’ connection to CDDB isn’t complete. Here’s how to reestablish connection to CDDB if your track lookups start failing:

  1. Quit iTunes for Windows.
  2. In Internet Explorer, go to Tools | Internet Options, click on the Connections tab, and click on the LAN Settings button.
  3. In the dialog that follows, uncheck the checkbox about using a proxy. Hit OK, then OK again.
  4. Open RegEdit and look for the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_USERSoftwareCDDBControl2.0. Delete this key.
  5. Open iTunes and insert the CD. iTunes should now be able to connect to CDDB again—at least, until it forgets again later…
  6. If necessary, reenable your proxy settings.