I know a dare when I see one

Tom reviews a rauchbier, apparently the original rauchbier: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier from Munich. I have to confess not being that much of a fan of rauchbier, too much of which tastes like liquid Slim Jims for me to really have the taste.

But I’ll enthusiastically take Tom up on his offer of a beer, especially since I still haven’t been to the Stumbling Monk. Tom, ping me and we’ll make it happen. Or you can just help me drink some surplus Belgians and odd porters I have around…


…is Atlanta-Hartfield International Airport on Memorial Day Weekend without air conditioning. And with no WiFi.

Oh well. I can’t complain. At least I found an electrical outlet and finished watching Faraway, So Close. I don’t really understand it, can’t even guess at how Wenders intended the floating boat of East German rockets manned by acrobats to be interpreted. Perhaps “I must be an acrobat to talk like this and act like that”?

(Written at 12:27 PM Pacific time on Sunday.)

Returning home

Written Sunday morning at 10 am: Lisa and I had breakfast in Arlington this morning. There is a Carberry’s off Mass Ave in the center of the downtown area; we occasionally visited the one near Central Square (next to the former Ars Digita office—the bakery got free WiFi from the office next door!) before we moved to the North End, back when I was a student.

Then she took me to the airport and dropped me off. Yes, she’s staying an extra few days to take care of some last minute business items that cropped up in the Boston suburbs. So I’ll be handling the dogs solo until Tuesday night (with some help from our doggie day care friend on Tuesday). I’m looking forward to seeing them. We had just gotten them back from the groomer last Tuesday before we left and they were looking quite sleek. I imagine them brown with dust and with their short hair somehow dreadlocked with the long sojourn they’ve had at the Wagon Tails Ranch.

Green buildings and corrugated pavement

Charlie, Carie, Lisa and I went for dinner last night at the Legal Sea Foods in Kendall Square in Cambridge. Carie took us in through our original Cambridge neighborhood, passing by Worthington Place along 3rd Street. We saw all the buildings that had been in the process of being piledriven into shape during our residence in the loft there. One, the new Genzyme building, has apparently won a five-star award for environmentally friendly building. (Of course, one wonders whether Genzyme is really doing so well as to need another building in Cambridge right now.)

Ironically, as we were admiring the environmentally friendly building, our teeth were collectively jolted from our heads as we rode over the patchwork that is 3rd Street between Binney and Broadway.

When we got to Legal Sea Foods, we had a 40 minute wait, thanks to the horde of Wellesley graduates that were there. Carie asked why they would come so far, and I had to point out that Wellesley and MIT have a long standing connection. (There’s actually a bus that runs between the two campuses on the weekends. This bus is probably responsible for the T-shirt my old housemate Dina told us about: “MIT Men: The odds are good but the goods are odd.”)

Alive and kicking

I’m back after a really miserable day. Sometime during the airplane flights on Wednesday, I ate something that kicked in what I can only describe as a really bad acid reflux problem. We arrived at Logan Airport at about 10:30 PM EDT, and by the time we found Charlie and Carie’s house in Medford I started to have pain and a tingle in the back of my throat. To make a long story short, I got no sleep Wednesday night at all. Yesterday was pretty much a wreck from beginning to end. I was still feeling discomfort from the acid (though Pepcid eventually solved the problem) and had zero sleep to boot, leaving me with a headache. But eventually things cleared up enough that I could have a normal (albeit small) dinner, and sleep properly. Now I’m almost caught up on my sleep and thinking a little more clearly. Time to hit one of those 1.8 Dunkin Donuts per square mile and get on with the day.

On the newsstand, a beloved blogger

Our beloved culinary sweetheart, Julie Powell, reappeared in my RSS aggregator today. But rather than showing up in her old haunts at the Julie-Julia Project, she’s in the New York Times under this misleadingly dry description: “Using recipes from the major food magazines, the author puts together a completely absurdist Thai-Scottish-Southern fusion menu.”

My wife, who was reading the paper version of the article next to me, commented, “She can certainly write, can’t she?” I wasn’t certain whether this was in regard to the note about starting the ice cream maker at 7:30 am on a Saturday “like every other American family,” or another note, but I said, “She certainly can.” I’m waiting for that book, too.

Real Live Preacher confesses

Lots of interesting stuff in my RSS aggregator (my backup airplane reading), including this little tidbit from Gordon Atkinson of San Antonio, Texas, pastor of Covenant Baptist Church… and Real Live Preacher:

So here we are. After eighteen months of anonymity it is time to come out of the closet. I guess the thing to do is just say it, so here goes.

My name is Gordon Atkinson. I live in San Antonio, Texas, and I’m the pastor of Covenant Baptist Church.

Yeah, Baptist. I know; I can hardly believe it myself. Real Live Preacher a Baptist? How can this be?

It be.

He also writes that the cover of his book and its publication dates are coming Friday. Can’t wait.

Xamlon reaches beta 4

Xamlon, the product (and company) of my old friend Paul Colton, just reached Beta 4. As I wrote before, Xamlon is a XAML engine that runs on Windows 98 through Windows XP. And XAML is the user interface development language for Longhorn.

In addition to the new beta release, Xamlon-the-company now has sponsored a community blog site about XAML at XAMLBlogs.com. This means that Paul finally has a blog (subscribed).

The big news on the blog at present appears to be the members’ participation in the XUL Grand Coding Challenge. The screenshots and sample code on the blog show some really interesting UI stuff created entirely with vector graphics declared in XML.

Camera closure

I think it’s a sign of my impending breakdown that buying and breaking in a camera is turning into a neverending saga. This is post #5 on the topic. When we last left our hero in Post Four, the camera had been purchased in a convoluted transaction that involved goat sacrifice and a temporary dispatch note.

Cut to yesterday, the purported day of the Delivery of the Camera. Lisa called after getting home to say that UPS had left a notice at our door about a package requiring signature. You’ve got to be kidding me, I said. Nope, she said, and here’s the InfoNotice number. I went to the UPS site and requested a same day hold. They promptly called me back to let me know that the van with my package would be back at the depot by 6:30. Could I pick it up between then and 8?

To understand why I gritted my teeth when I responded, you have to understand the following:

  1. The UPS depot is a mile beyond the end of Rt 520 off Avondale Road, nominally not far from my office, but a great bloody long way during rush hour when half the population of Microsoft and related industries are all leaving 520 to the east into one of two tiny little stoplight choked Redmond streets.
  2. Our dogs’ day care place is also off Avondale Road, about two miles further up—about 25 minutes drive from our house if there aren’t any accidents.
  3. I was scheduled to pick up the dogs at 5.
  4. Since I couldn’t pick up the package until 6:30, I was guaranteed two long outings to Avondale Road in the same evening.

Anyway, I finally made it and brought the camera home. But as a result of all the hijinx, I haven’t been able to do more with the camera than verify that it works. I’ll try to post some pictures while we’re in Boston.

Preaching to the choir

Esta has been too busy to post for most of this semester, but wrote late Sunday night/Monday morning about her debut as a preacher. She had quite a baptism by fire, though I have to say that even compared to preaching a sermon at a retirement home and co-leading morning chapel, the most difficult of the three experiences for me would have to be helping to lead worship at the church in which we grew up.

I can say that from experience. In high school I gave a sermon in that church one Youth Sunday. If I recall correctly, I was quite the judgmental little snot, too. Of the two of us, I’m really glad that Esta was the one that got this particular Call. Her gifts are so much more suited for God’s word.

Doggie day care

I have become that which I laughed at. I have been taking our dogs to Doggie Day Care for the last few days. (I know, I know. How much more anxious yuppie dogparent can I get?)

It’s a pretty good setup, if a tad pricy. The dogs have other dogs their own size to play with—rare when that size is under 15 pounds. They have an attentive watcher, and a nice back yard to play around in (and get dusty in). They even have individual beds to nap in.

They come home totally wiped out at the end of the day, which is probably the best part. It’s like the Jetta commercial where the guy takes his brother’s kids out and runs them up and down hills and on treadmills to wear them out. Peace and quiet = priceless.

Source that post!

Via Micro Persuasion (another really excellent new blog find): Blog Sourcing Petition. This is fundamental to one of the promises of the blogosphere, that individuals gain power through using their voices on line. But if you don’t link, you don’t participate in that empowerment.

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of not sourcing in the past, and I’ll probably make mistakes going forward, but I’ll try harder in the future.