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|Tuesday, October 8th, 2013|
|The Pittsburgh Pirates
In December 1978, I watched my first NFL football game on TV: a playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos. The Steelers won convincingly, 33-10; Franco Harris scored two rushing touchdowns, and Terry Bradshaw threw two touchdowns, one each to Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. (All four of them, along with five others on that team, were eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame.) I was 8 years old; I liked their flamboyancy and their colors (black and gold), and I became a fan. They went on to win the Super Bowl over the Dallas Cowboys that season ("still widely regarded as one of the greatest Super Bowl games ever played," according to Wikipedia), and I learned the joy of rooting for a winning team.
In April 1979, baseball season started, and I discovered that the Pittsburgh Pirates also had black-and-gold uniforms, so I decided to become a fan of theirs too. They turned out to be just as flamboyant: Willie Stargell's windmill wind-up, Kent Tekulve's "submarine" side-arm, Phil Garner's mustache. In one game, an opposing pitcher tried to intentionally walk Dave Parker (professional sports' first $1-million/year player), but Parker got mad, stepped over the plate, swung and hit the ball into the outfield. The team theme song was the Sisters Sledge's disco classic "We Are Family", which played at every home game. They led the National League with 98 wins, and came from being down 3 games to 1 to win the World Series over Earl Weaver's Baltimore Orioles.
The Steelers won the Super Bowl again the next year, their fourth of the decade. But the next decade, the '80s, were a bad time to be a Pittsburgh fan, as the Steelers sank into mediocrity and the Pirates became the worst team in baseball. As the '90s began, though, Mario Lemieux lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a couple of Stanley Cups, Bill Cowher arrived to coach the Steelers to six consecutive playoff seasons, and the "outfield of dreams" (Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Andy van Slyke) brought the Pirates three division titles. In the bottom of the 9th inning of the 1992 League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves, Sid Bream, who had just left the Pirates as a free agent two years earlier, loped in from second base (Bream "was known as an unusually slow runner" according to Wikipedia) to just barely beat Bonds's throw to win the game and end the Pirates' season.
In the 2000s, the Penguins won a third Stanley Cup. The Steelers won two more Super Bowls and cemented the best record in the NFL since 1970. But after 1992 the Pittsburgh Pirates went on to have 20 straight losing seasons, the longest such streak in North American professional sports history. I still followed baseball for a while, through the steroid-laden late '90s/'00s, as Barry Bonds broke the single-season and career home run records with the SF Giants, and the Boston Red Sox "reversed the curse" and ended their own legendary 86-year streak and won the World Series (the New England Patriots having won the Super Bowl earlier that year, Boston became the first city to have simultaneous baseball and football champs since... Pittsburgh in 1979). But the days of rooting for the Pirates in the postseason were long-gone fond memories, and I haven't really paid attention to any sports at all in the past four or five years.
Maybe you can see where this is going... Last Tuesday, Oct 1st, we were at the Middle East club to see the indie rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and there was a baseball game on the TV behind the bar. When I noticed it was a Pirates game, I figured something unusual was happening—why would they be on TV in an American League city at the end of the season? It turned out to be the Wild Card game, and the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds to get into the playoffs!
Right now, the Pirates are tied with the St. Louis Cardinals in the Division Series at 2 games apiece. The Red Sox are ahead 2-1 in their series with the Tampa Bay Rays. There's an outside chance that the Pirates could play the Red Sox in the World Series. I might just have to re-subscribe to cable TV...
|Thursday, July 18th, 2013|
I'm on vacation on Sodus Bay in upstate New York; my phone (T-Mobile) only has 2G connectivity (i.e. feels like a 1200 baud modem), whereas Norah's phone (Sprint) has full 3G. This is dumb! Why can't my phone just connect to whatever the fastest network around is? Someone should work on that.
Posted via LjBeetle
|Saturday, June 22nd, 2013|
|Google Reader is dead; long live Feedly?
On March 13, Google announced they were shutting down Google Reader on July 1
. It was hidden as the fifth entry in a laundry list of things they were closing down; unlike most of the other bullets in that list, they did not offer any suggestion for an alternative service to use, instead just mentioning that you could extract your Google Reader data via Google Takeout (which is basically like evicting you by dumping all your belongings out a third story window onto the street below).
Several others feed readers started working on (or accelerating work on) services to migrate your data from Google Reader. I looked into Newsblur
, The Old Reader
, and Hive (nee HiveMined)
, but I eventually settled on Feedly
I'll admit that I didn't do an exhaustive study of these (and there are probably lots of others that I didn't even try), but Feedly feels like the best replacement for what I want out of a feed reader, and specifically for what I want out of a transition from Google Reader. I was most concerned about losing all my Starred Items, because it seemed like none of the new readers had the ability to import them—or would only import the URLs, instead of the cached full articles, which was important because some of mine are over four years old and no longer exist at their original URLs. Once I noticed that Feedly had in fact kept the entire set of articles intact, I felt safe committing to the switch. Also, both the Chrome extension
and the Android app
have the basic features that I want: compact view, oldest-first sorting, keep unread, save for later.
Unfortunately there doesn't yet seem to be a good export capability from Feedly (ironically). I'm just going to have to cross my fingers and hope that they add this before they go under, or get bought by Google and shut down, or whatever fate is eventually in store for them...
|Sunday, April 28th, 2013|
|Heading to Portland, OR this week
I'm flying out to Portland, OR today for RailsConf
this week. The conference runs through Thursday but I'll be there until Sunday morning. Portlanders, let me know if you want to hang out! And/or let me know if there's anything cool going on (concerts, etc).
|Tuesday, March 19th, 2013|
I'm trying out Android Letterpress clones, Spell Strike and Glibber. Anyone want to play me? I'm dougo on both. (Are there better ones?)
Posted via LjBeetle
|Saturday, November 17th, 2012|
The oldest survivng copy of Euclid's Elements
dates from the ninth century, a thousand years after it was written.
Posted via LjBeetle
|Friday, August 10th, 2012|
|Charles Schwab Is Clueless About Security
You know, Charles Schwab should not even have my plaintext password in their database, let alone print it on a piece of paper and send it to me through the mail
! I feel like I should report this to someone, but whom? Better Business Bureau?
|Saturday, August 4th, 2012|
|Quick trip to NYC
I'm going down to Manhattan tomorrow to see The Zombies
—yes, that Zombies
!—and I'm looking for hotel recommendations, preferably somewhere between Penn Station and the Highline Ballroom (Chelsea/Meatpacking district). It doesn't need to be super-cheap, just not unreasonable. And, air-conditioned and bedbugless!
Also, anyone want to go with me? Norah is visiting family in upstate NY so can't go.
|Monday, July 9th, 2012|
I've been putting off posting about my Tumblr
because I was planning to write up a post about how Google shut down my blog
but it may be a while before I get around to that post so in the meantime here's this post:
Hey, check out my Tumblr
! That's where I share cool stuff that I run across on the net. Still reserving this LiveJournal for original content. (And, yes, you can put scare quotes around both of those words.)
|Friday, May 18th, 2012|
, and it seems like a great team. I'm pretty excited.
I have one more week working at my current company, MCNA Dental. There had been many ups and downs since I started working there in December, but eventually it became clear to me that the reasons to leave were starting to outweigh the reasons to stay, and I started accepting calls from recruiters. At first I was just looking around to see what my options were, and there were several false starts, but after a couple months of "stealth" job search, I was lucky enough to get a few offers. It was a tough choice, but in the end the PayPal Boston opportunity felt like the best move for me.
They say that it's easier to find a job when you have a job, and I can see some reasons for that, but personally I found it very stressful. The tech job market is pretty hot right now, so I probably could have been more open about the fact that I was looking (or just outright quit), but I wanted to play it safe, which basically everyone I asked advised me to. I'm not sure I would advise the same.
|Tuesday, March 20th, 2012|
Lately I've been listening to music files on my computer sorted by album name. (No, I didn't start at A; I've been randomly skipping around from time to time.) This is essentially a random album shuffle, since album titles aren't particularly correlated with style or artist. But, over the last few days I've listened to:
Various Artists, Dope, Guns, 'n Fucking in the Streets
(3CD compilation of '90s Amphetamine Reptile
Monster Magnet, Dopes to Infinity
Electric Wizard, Dopethrone
It's been a nice stretch of mega-heavy rock. Right now I'm listening to Curve's Doppelgänger
, but next up is Hawkwind's Doremi Fasol Latido
, which fits in nicely as well.
|Sunday, February 26th, 2012|
|The walk to work; Art
I'm staying at a hotel that's a little less than a mile from work (on the northern outskirts of Fort Lauderdale), so I walk to the office most days. Here are some of the things I pass on the way, in order:
a Catholic church
a Microsoft office building
a large trailer park
a Jaguar dealership (I found a geocache near here)
an LA Fitness
a movie theater with 12 screens (dodecaplex?)
a seemingly defunct Mexican restaurant, with a large parking lot
the Xanadu Boutique For Sophisticated Adults
It's kind of a weird neighborhood.
Last weekend, I ended up randomly going to an open art studios event
with some coworkers, and of course it made me think cthulhia
would have loved it. I met and chatted with Sonia Baez-Hernandez
, whose works I quite enjoyed, particularly Marine Passion
and Enbodiment of Nails
. At home, I rarely get out to open studios or other art events, but here it felt like a little taste of home.
|Thursday, February 9th, 2012|
I'll be heading back to Fort Lauderdale for work this Sunday, for three weeks. Do I know anyone who will be in South Florida during that time (Feb 12–Mar 3)? (I doubt it, but I was wrong last time...)
|Wednesday, December 14th, 2011|
|Hello from Florida
I'm writing this from a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Two weeks ago I would never have guessed that I'd be here now, but life is funny that way...
I had been nominally looking for a full-time job since October when I got back from my trip to Great Britain. I hadn't actually gotten around to applying for jobs; a few recruiter cold-calls had led to a few interviews last month, but nothing panned out. Then, the weekend before last, a friend and former co-worker, John Valente, got in touch asking if I was available for some work. Back in the summer, I had forwarded a job listing I saw on the Lisp Jobs blog
to him, because I knew he was looking (and we had both done Lisp at our previous job, Gensym). Well, they (MCNA Dental) had ended up hiring him, and now they were looking for more Lisp programmers—in particular, ones who also had some Ruby experience. And since I did a Ruby contract in summer 2010, John figured I'd be a good candidate.
After some discussion, I agreed that I'd be a good candidate too. They were willing to have me work remotely from Boston; we discussed working on a full-time contract basis, but it seemed better for both parties to have me work as a salaried employee. But they wanted me to come down to their HQ in Fort Lauderdale ASAP so that I could meet the team (including someone who was visiting from Germany for a week) and participate in some planning meetings. So, on Friday I received and accepted an offer by email, I flew down on Monday afternoon (did you know JetBlue has four daily non-stop flights from Boston to Fort Lauderdale?), and yesterday I showed up in the office for my first day of work. I'll be here for a couple weeks, flying back to Boston on Christmas Eve.
After two days, I'm starting to get a handle on the job. It's a bit of a fixer-upper, in that they have a lot of old Ruby code written 6+ years ago by an outsource team, and a lot of new Lisp code that isn't yet ready to replace the Ruby app. So I'll mostly be helping to get the Ruby code modernized and cleaned up to be maintainable, and then at some point move over to the Lisp team to help finish building the replacement system. It's an internal web app for managing dental insurance claims and providers, so nothing particularly sexy, but it'll be fun to be writing Ruby and Lisp code anyway.
It's all still a little surreal, though, to suddenly be in Florida in December with a full-time job. This weekend I'm planning to get some well-earned relaxation by playing some disc golf and then cooling off with a dip in the ocean. Happy Holidays...
|Monday, November 14th, 2011|
My niece, Harper Marie Griest, was born yesterday morning. Apparently it was a short and uncomplicated labor, and mother and baby are healthy and happy. I think Danielle was hoping for 11/11/11, but this way Harper will have some cool Friday the 13th birthday parties to look forward to.
|Thursday, November 10th, 2011|
|Further over the hill
I've been alive for 41 years now. It seems like both a long time and a short time. Time is funny that way.
My 42nd year is not off to a great start; I just realized that I somehow totally forgot to go to the Wooden Shjips & MV/EE concert
last night, which I had been looking forward to for weeks. I even forgot to stay up to do the latest Theorem
soon enough after midnight to get a lot of bonus points (though I still got 50 for solving it this morning). But I guess those were technically mistakes from my 41st year, so I have a clean slate for this year.
Do people who believe that life begins at conception celebrate the anniversary of their conception rather than their birth?
|Friday, November 4th, 2011|
|The importance of line breaks
On the T today, I saw this sign:
But, from where I was sitting, a crossbar was blocking out the "Supporting" line, so it looked like it was saying:
"Breastfeeding employees helps your bottom line."
|Thursday, October 27th, 2011|
|UK trip photos
I finally finished uploading all the photos
from my UK trip last month
. I guess it's good that the auto-post to Facebook broke, because it would have gotten pretty spammy.
I don't have the energy to write up the whole trip, but the photo sets at least form a list of most of the places we visited. If you'd like me to say more about some particular part of the trip, let me know.CanterburyLondonOxford, Stratford, WarwickCoventry, YorkDurham and into ScotlandEdinburghSt. AndrewsLoch Ness, Isle of SkyeFort Augustus, Loch LomondLake DistrictWalesChester, Abbey-Cwm-HirCardiff, BathGlastonbury, Widecombe, PlymouthPlymouth, Cornwall, DartmoorStonehenge, Isle of WightWinchester, Windsor, London
|Wednesday, October 26th, 2011|
John McCarthy died on Monday. He coined the term "artificial intelligence", and created the programming language Lisp in 1958. The Stanford obituary
has a good overview of his career; jwz
has a nice little anecdote.
I had a very minor McCarthy encounter myself: I stood near him at a book reading at a bookstore in Palo Alto in the early '90s. I don't remember the author or book, but it was about how strong AI
is impossible without embodiment
. (It might have been Hubert Dreyfus
, but I think it was someone younger/less established.) I don't remember if McCarthy had some question or comment, or if someone just pointed him out to me, but I remember later realizing that I had made some comment about Scheme to a friend while within earshot of the inventor of Lisp.
At some point I discovered his web pages about the sustainability of human progress
, which are fascinating if sometimes seeming to veer into crackpottery. I hope Stanford keeps these pages up permanently, because I never made it all the way through their somewhat confusing organization, and I think McCarthy had continued to add to them until pretty recently.
One thing I was surprised to learn from his obituary is that he was married to Carolyn Talcott
, whose name I know from programming language theory literature. In fact, she was on the PhD thesis committee of someone who was on my PhD thesis committee, so I guess, academically, she's my grandmother!
John McCarthy was also known as the Programming: You're Doing It Completely Wrong
guy. Rest in peace.
|Saturday, October 22nd, 2011|
I never know what to say to someone who's sick. "Get well soon" sounds like a command, with an implied "...or else!" "I hope you feel better" sounds like it's an imposition to me and I'm impatient. I could just go with "take it easy", i.e. banal advice, but I feel like it should also involve something like "good luck" or "best wishes", an expression of semi-superstitious beneficence. "Gesundheit" does literally mean "health", but obviously that already has a more specific application. Any other ideas?