Pet sitting

Posted in pets at 1:12 am by wingerz

Since Jen won’t let me get pets of my own, my only option is to babysit other people’s pets. Jen and Jordi are away and letting me take care of two of their cats (Fred and George) for a few days. They spent most of the first two days under the bed, refusing to come out. Lately they have been more adventurous. Assorted highlights:

  • One or both of them have stepped on me in the middle of the night.
  • Every night I put canned food out for them. On the first night I left the food out and I was worried that they wouldn’t eat it. Two nights later they both came out from the bedroom when they heard the sound of the can opening. Tonight they wandered between the kitchen and bedroom, anticipating their dinner. They started meowing loudly when they saw me opening the can.
  • When I’m petting him, George will nudge my free hand with his head. He needs a lot of attention.
  • Fred is the more timid of the two – he spends more time underneath the bed but seems to be warming up to me.
  • The Roomba is great for picking up cat hair and getting the cats out from underneath the bed.
  • Fred is great at hiding – it took me a while to find him sitting on a chair, hidden by the tablecloth. He also hid in the closet once.
  • It’s quite satisfying (though easy) to get both cats purring by petting them.
  • I think I’m slightly allergic to them, but it hasn’t been that bad so far. I bought some allergy medicine just in case.
  • It’s nice to have some company while Jen is away.


Sports recap

Posted in basketball, sports at 12:11 am by wingerz

I watched my only hockey game of the season last night – Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was pretty exciting.

I tivo’d most of Game 6 tonight and caught up to realtime to see Dallas’s last possession live. This is actually pretty important to me because I don’t believe in watching recorded sporting events after the result has been decided. This game was meant to go to OT and the series to 7, especially with Wade missing those free throws at the end. Damn.

In any case, I still can’t believe it. The Heat play Jason Williams, Antoine Walker (his shimmy is one of the most annoying things ever), and Gary Payton. And they just won a championship. Does anyone else find this weird? And Shaq annoys me because he still takes every possible opportunity to criticize Kobe.

On the plus side, Alonzo had several awesome blocks and Dwayne is amazing.

Go Lakers!


Fancy dining

Posted in food, restaurants at 12:20 am by wingerz

As I’ve become more comfortable in the kitchen, it takes a lot more for a restaurant to impress me, especially when it’s a somewhat nice restaurant. Today I walked away from David Burke & Donatella thoroughly impressed after a filling lunch (they have $24 and $35 prix fixe menus for lunch, possibly only on Sundays but I’m not sure). Ellen, Jen, and I shared an assortment of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Some of the highlights:

  • Titanic french toast: A entire small loaf of given the french toast treatment
  • Beef short ribs: With a delicious mushroom sauce and a dollop of black truffle mousse
  • Chicken and Shrimp salad: Tossed with a mustardy vinagrette with a hint of horseradish

For the quality and quantity of food, it was a phenomenal deal and a great dining experience.

Violent, yet strangely amusing

Posted in baseball, sports at 12:05 am by wingerz

Top 10 Baseball Fights, but Pedro throwing Don Zimmer down to the ground is missing.


Darwin at the AMNH

Posted in evolution, history, science at 5:52 am by wingerz

Yesterday Jen and I went to the Darwin exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It was very well done, featuring some of his personal correspondences, notesbooks, and collected specimens, as well as live tortoises and an iguana. Some interesting tidbits:

  • Darwin loved to collect beetles. On one occasion he found himself in a situation where he wanted to catch three beetles but only had two hands – he popped one into his mouth, where it prompty sprayed him with something disgusting.
  • Darwin compiled a list of pros and cons for marriage. Among the pros: “better than a dog anyhow.” The worst con: a “terrible loss of time.”
  • Darwin’s father wanted him to become a doctor and was opposed to him traveling on the HMS Beagle. Fortunately, he wrote: “”If you can find any man of common sense who advises you to go, I will give my consent.” Darwin found this man in his uncle and future father-in-law.
  • My favorite notebook entry of his simply states “I think” at the top and a tree of related species below. To me it was quite amazing to see this. It’s quite easy to take this idea for granted now (well, not in some states, I suppose), but this really drives home the point that a profound thinker had to figure all of this out and capture it in his notebook.
  • Darwin sat on his ideas for about 20 years, until Alfred Russel Wallace had come to the same conclusions. The exhibit included some of the letters that were sent between the two scientists – Wallace conveyed an incredible amount of respect for the depth of Darwin’s work and seemed to be quite grateful with the end result: both papers would be published simultaneously.
  • Darwin also loved orchids and did many experiments to see how orchids had adapted to the insects that helped them with pollination (and vice versa). He found one orchid in Madagascar in 1862 that would have depended on an insect with a foot-long probiscis. No such insect was found until 60 years later.

It’s great that the museum put a lot of the text (straight from the exhibits) online. Google Image Search for the “I think” image led me straight to the Darwin Exhibit website. I’ve been meaning to read The Origin of Species for a while; now I feel sufficiently inspired to pick it up.


5th Year College Reunion

Posted in college, personal at 5:15 am by wingerz

Our 5th Year College Reunion was last weekend. I was not really looking forward to it, as I was a bit more on the introverted side during those years, to the extent that Jess and Kent accused me of never attending Harvard. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the number of familiar faces that I saw: freshman year podmates, fellow Dunster House dormmates, problem set and project partners, and a ton of friends. I suppose an environment more conducive to starting genuine conversations is difficult to find – there was no awkwardness in asking for forgotten names or introducing myself to complete strangers.

Had I written this entry a week ago like I intended, it wouldn’t have sounded like a regurgitation of Jess’s blog about the reunion. I, too, attended the memorial service for five of our classmates who passed away. The service was conducted by Reverend Mark Eddington, who also happens to be the person who married Jen and me. I knew two of the students – Haley and Rob. It’s quite difficult to imagine that they are gone forever, but the service was beautifully done, and for me it was satisfying to pay respects to the deceases students in a formal ceremony.

All in all, it was a great weekend. The years have flown by, and I am grateful to have found a wonderful, loving wife and such great friends along the way.

Edit: Thanks to the loveing wife for pointing out my typo


World Cup Action

Posted in soccer, sports, world cup at 5:09 am by wingerz

http://www.worldcupwatcher.com/ has links to youtube goal summaries and p2p game streams, if you happen to have a viewer like TV Ants installed.


Why everyone should get a DS Lite

Posted in games at 7:15 am by wingerz

Over the past few years I’ve been playing my Nintendo DS much, much more than any other console. Even when I’m at home, it usually wins out over the Gamecube. I think that a lot of this has to do with getting busier and busier – it’s just tough to find two or three hours here and there to sit down in front of the TV to play. The nice thing about having a portable system is that I can play it while I’m waiting to pick up Jen, watching TV, riding the T, cooking, or getting ready for bed. With the DS Lite (smaller, sleeker, brighter) coming out this Sunday, I’ve decided to put in a good word for it.

The current game library has a lot of great titles. I’ve played, beaten, and thoroughly enjoyed Castlevania, New Super Mario Bros, Kirby, Super Mario 64, and Mario & Luigi. In addition, it still plays old GBA games, of which there are about a million.

Nintendo Wifi works well, though it certainly lacks the features of XBox Live. Recently I have become re-addicted to playing Tetris DS online. I’ve played Mario Kart and Animal Crossing online with my sister and Brandon. Both MK and Tetris give you the option of matching you up against players of a similar skill level, which makes for some very competitive games.

Looking forward to Zelda, FFIII, Children of Mana, Mario Basketball, Yoshi’s Island, Starfox, and a few others.

A few of the work guys have expressed interest in getting DS Lites, so I’ve got my fingers crossed. Sometimes I daydream about playing 8-player Mario Kart or 10-player Tetris at the conference table.

* I have one complaint about the DS, and it’s this: They got rid of the multiplayer GBA port, which kills me. I have to keep my GBA SP around for games like Legend of Zelda: Four Swords and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
** Actually, here’s another complaint: where the HELL is Tetris Attack/Pokemon Puzzle Challenge?

An attempt at web development

Posted in rails, web at 6:32 am by wingerz

Recently I volunteered to put together a new website for my wife’s former company, New Sector Alliance (the old site). I figured it was a good way to learn the right way to put a website together. The only customer requirements: Make it look better than the old site, and add in some flashing quotes.

Some of the things I’ve picked up:

  • Creating layouts with div positioning rather than tables: No more fiddling with colspans and rowspans, put your layout boxes wherever you want them, even overlapping or obscuring one another.
  • Nice rounded tabs: I used A List Apart‘s sliding doors approach. Basically it involves creating a (narrow) left image and a (wide) right image of a box with rounded corners, then positioning them as backgrounds with the left image pushed to the upper left and the right image pushed to the upper right. Only the part of the image that covers the tab element shows through. The other neat trick is for changing the background image on a hover event. Rather than switching images or switching the class of an element, you put two images into a single image, stacked on top of each other, then switch the positioning of the image on a hover event.
  • Slick graphical effects: script.aculo.us is one of many Javascript libraries for cool “Web 2.0” effects. It’s pretty easy to use. I created a box that contains changing quotes and used this to fade quotes in and out.
  • More Javascript: Found a simple sortable table script, which I dumped in to display every past project that the company has done (134). Things like this make me happy to know perl.
  • Cross-browser functionality: I haven’t really looked at this yet, but I am not looking forward to it. Some of the stuff doesn’t even render in IE.
  • Development environment: I actually started coding the site up in Ruby on Rails to take advantage of the layout system. I’ve got a default layout that draws the header, main nav menu, and footer. It’s made working with the nav menus much easier (especially for highlighting the item in the menu that matches the page that’s currently being viewed).


Long Eclipse 3.2 classpath in Windows

Posted in development at 12:12 pm by wingerz

A few weeks ago I installed the latest Eclipse 3.2 milestone. I had trouble running some of my programs (“Exception executing command line”) and tracked it down to a very long classpath in a command being passed to Windows to execute (it got cut off a bit past the 1000th char). To fix it:

  • Navigate to the Run configuration of your program.
  • Open the Classpath tab.
  • Navigate to your project under “User Entries”.
  • Click “Edit…”
  • Check “Only include exported entries”

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