Older blog entries for stephane (starting at number 12)

I received my first official $holiday gift of the season, a Japanese cat calendar made by these fine folks. The URL was one of the few things I could read on it, but I'm hoping to learn the kanji for the days of the week by the end of this year. The company in question has a staggering array of cat-themed items. Thanks, Taska!

Warm Krispy Kreme donuts are altogether too satisfying.

I'm blue now.

I hope everyone is enjoying the warmth of the $holiday season.

At work I've been writing software reviews, which has been an interesting departure from the usual bit-diddling. I've also been cleaning up and fine-tuning some scripts for automated testing of software packages. We've recently been joined by yakk, so dinner out yesterday evening was a necessity (mmm, delicious gnocchi).

Ideas (and stuff):

It's good to be back.

stephane: Now More Than Ever (tm)

I'm looking at my prospective furniture on the web.

Moving into a new apartment is a psychologically- and financially-hazardous endeavor. I think that the people who run Bed, Bath, and Beyond have exploited this to maximum effect. Most everyone I know has made a trip there recently for some household necessity or other, and I am no exception. After a couple of hours in the place searching for the perfect trash cans, coat rack, etc., my brain became strangely pliable. I was locked into a serious consumption mode. I also find it clever that the store presents you with a huge number of items when you walk in, making it seem as if you will have a wide range of choices for each item you need. When you go shopping for a *specific* item, you find that there are only a few different styles to choose from, but a huge pile of each style on the shelf. I'm starting to believe Negativland's views on the illusion of consumer choice :)

I have unwittingly been inducted into the Bay Area Cult of IKEA. I haven't even been there yet, but I like the chairs Maciej and Eskil brought home and assembled ('Adam', I think). It somehow feels more civilized to eat dinner while sitting in a chair, even if one's dinner table is a cardboard box. The names of the furniture are great, too. They have Eskil stools in the catalog but we haven't gotten any. I wonder what item of furniture a Stephane would be and what it would look like. Maybe a computer desk ;).

I have been spending lots of time at home since we moved, even without DSL. I have great plans for my home network, which I should start on so things will be ready by the time we get our DSL installed. And Eskil is a good roommate, even though I did not know him really at all when we first started looking at apartments. Maciej is a good roommate too, lest he read this and feel left out. :)

SCUBA diving is an equipment intensive sport. This I found out firsthand by sharing a backseat with four tanks of air and assorted wet, smelly dive gear (and my friend Simon) while driving to and fro in Monterey. Being able to see starfish, sand dabs, kelp, and jellyfish underwater was a really cool experience, but I have a lot of trouble with my ears and sinuses so I don't know if I will go diving again for a long time. But I'd like to go down to the seaside again and eat some fresh kelp. I guess it sounds weird, but I really like the taste/texture of it.

I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium while visiting the city, and enjoyed it greatly. We got a close-up look at some penguins, and began naming them after various Linux distributions based on their personalities. I also got Maciej a nautilus shell. It was good to get out of the city for a while, but I found myself really missing San Francisco and my little flat as it was getting time to head home.

Sed can be your friend. Automation is also a sysadmin's best friend. Either that, or lackeys to do your bidding, but scripts are easier to maintain.

_Chicken Run_ was really good, though I find it really ironic that there's a promotion for it going on at Burger King, which would seem to be more on the side of huge machines that make chickens into food than plucky, freedom-loving cartoon chickens. I wouldn't consider it "heartwarming family fun"...it's funny and touching without being manipulative. I'm supposed to see _Titan AE_ tonight. I've heard it described as 'American anime'.

Congratulations Ryan...every geek I know is talking about what you're doing!

That was the best Chinese food I've ever had at a gay bar.

There's nothing quite like the combination of bad house music and decent General {Gau Tso Cho Chau}'s Chicken. I was people-watching in the Castro during Pride Week here in San Francisco. As always, the neighborhood was bustling with activity.

After dinner, mjs, eskil and I walked a short distance up the hill to our new flat. My cat was still traumatized from being relocated to a place which smelled different to her. She eventually got used to it, though, and attempted to join Eskil and I out on the deck for a beer. No beer for cats, though.

I like the new place a great deal, though we will see what it looks like with my horrible half-scavenged furniture in my room, like my desk, which has often inspired the comment "I didn't know Hewlett-Packard made furniture". I am hoping to get the remainder of my stuff out of the old place soon, but I am going away for the weekend to Monterey, where I will be finishing my scuba class in an attempt to become a certified diver. Hopefully I'll also be able to satiate my current inexplicable craving for seafood of all sorts.

The diving class has been interesting for me. Being under the water for long periods of time without surfacing can get a little freaky, but having gotten a bit more used to it it's very fun. Having appropriately fitting equipment is important, too.

I guess you could say I've returned from the advogato dead. Tune in next time when you'll hear tales of scary hardware, open water diving, the thrill of temporary victory over the SF rental market, and the agony of defeat by poorly-planned apt-get dist-upgrades.

Bullet point diary for the week:

  • Scorpion bowls at the Lilo Lounge -- "one too many may sting"

  • Fun with planned and non-planned outages

  • garden-variety angst

  • _vicious_ still on the couch

  • gyros at the New Crockery Cafe

  • pasta

  • Gary Numan and Split Enz blasting in the sysadmin office on a Friday night!

Didn't wear my glasses 'cause I thought it might rain / Now I can't see anything

-- REM, "How the West was Won and Where it Got Us"

It rained today, as was forecasted. And I wore my new glasses.

Today was another Linuxchix meeting, this time at Max's Diner. It started out being "Elise and Steph have lunch" but actually turned out to attract a couple more people, one of them being my friend Rebecca (who just started working last week at Eazel). I wish more people would show up at the meetings. There have to be more Linux-using chicks in the Bay Area than merely the regular group of attendees. Maybe they are too busy hacking to show up :). I don't think that we are past having the need for women-in-technology groups yet.

After Linuxchix Rebecca and I returned to my house, where I found a boisterous group of hacker folks in my living room doing kung-fu poses and taking pictures. Thanks to Yosh and Uzi for visiting the Outer Sunset Linuxcare office :). A few beers and much exuberant conversation later, we were off for an evening meal of sushi. I think sushi *and* Max's is too much food for one day. Oof. Then the whole lot descended on the Eazel offices, leaving a trail of DHCP leases and empty Kern's fruit nectar cans in its wake. Obscene Kermit the Frog impersonations, Nerf tennis matches and Elmer's Glue sniffing were the order of the evening.

I'm very happy right now. This has been a relaxing weekend, and I feel ready to return to work tomorrow (well, provided I get some sleep ;).

Friday...Enjoyed yummy dinner with friends (thanks for the hospitality, guys) and fun with the GIMP and a few digital photos of some cow orkers. Then I was off to another gathering for a bit more fun.

Saturday I was awakened only slightly earlier than planned by the sounds of our houseguest arising. After general computer usage, grooming (I put on a clean Miskatonic University t-shirt), and so forth we stumbled towards lunch at ye olde Pasta Pomodoro. The company and conversation were pleasant. The food was good too. My pasta with seafood included calamari, so I expected little o-shaped chewy white things, but the mixture also included some of the calamari that actually resemble tiny squid (because they are). Normally, I am scared to eat things with still-attached tentacles, but they ended up being tasty, and leaving them on my plate would have alarmed Maciej. I don't think he likes food that resembles Cthulhu. I also got to pick up my new glasses around lunchtime. They're quite snappy looking, much better than my old 80's geek style ones.

After getting home I promptly left again to enjoy coffee and conversation at Farley's with Crackmonkey and Elise, as well as Zach Brown, Master of Origami. Crackmonkey and I also checked out a great new used bookstore in my neighborhood and watched a couple of movies: The Black Hole and Rushmore. I enjoyed both, for entirely different reasons. Rushmore is a truly great flick if you've not seen it. It's impossible to describe, so just trust me and go rent it out.

Oh, and I fed the lizards their ration of crickets. I now own something called a "Cricket Corral (tm)" (Pat. #5630374, according to the side of the thing. Patents are silly.). It's definitely handy for corralling crickets, if you need to do that sort of thing.

cocktail recipe

Into one segmentation fault shot glass pour:

1/2 oz. Godiva chocolate liqueur
1/2 oz. creme de menthe

Stir with chopstick until homogenized. Serves one.

random thought of the day

I've been thinking a lot lately about the varying levels of immersion into a given session at the computer (i.e., what makes for a good 'code trance'). I was especially thinking about things like VRML, graphical internet chat, and the like. Ironically, I think that probably the most immersive computing environment right now would be text-only. There's no distractions, and you can really stay focused on coding, chatting or what have you.

It's sort of like reading a novel as opposed to watching a film of the novel. The book frequently seems better than the movie because we can imagine the characters to be however we want them (within the bounds of the narrative). Someone else's realization of that book, even if it is quite faithful, will always disappoint to a certain extent simply because it can never be as personal as your own imagination of the characters and places.

Having said that, I think I might go upstairs now and read a book until I fall asleep :)

Life is.....life.

Wednesday night was boring, so I didn't post anything about it. I sat in the office until very late taking care of the random odds and ends that always accumulate when you're a sysadmin. I ended up leaving the office around 5:30 am or so. Sometimes I think I should invest in a cheap K-Mart sleeping bag in case of sysadmin nap attacks -- the floor isn't a comfy place to crash when you're too tired to go home.

Thursday I slept a bit and took care of various errands that I have been putting off, then I worked until mid-evening. I was craving some sort of socializing but everyone else had other plans, so I ended up walking from the office to Borders Books, Music, Videos, etc. Usually I like to go to a more independent bookstore, like Stacey's, but Borders is open until 11pm. I then let myself splurge a bit on some Media Products (tm), including the new Terry Pratchett book, an animated video of "Wyrd Sisters" (another Pratchett book), an industrial CD and another book. Ironically, the one book that I was specifically looking for was out of stock. It's called "Mental Hygeine" and it's about classroom and other educational films. One of the books I got had a footnote referring to a book by my academic advisor from MIT, which was kind of cool.

Yesterday was a good day. I felt very happy to be in this city, in this time, in this community of free software people. Walking around downtown at night, hearing some streetcorner blues (any blues can sound like the *best* blues on a warm night outdoors) made me feel really *alive*. I feel really lucky that I've ended up here with the people I've met so far. Beaujolais to warm fuzzy feelings.

random thoughts of the day

Media shapes its content (well, at least if you're a McLuhanite like me). Do you think that the structure of Advogato shapes the way it's used? Content also pushes the media back, though...think about what's been added to HTML and all the different add-ons to it (Java applets, Javascript, Flash) that extend its functionality. Does your use shape Advogato?

soundtrack for the last two days

"Assimilate" - Skinny Puppy
"Adrenaline" - Rosetta Stone
_Fun with Knives_ - Velvet Acid Christ
_Serial Experiment Lain Soundtrack_
"Headhunter" - Front 242
"Anarchy" - KMFDM

Here I am posting from a couch yet again. This time, the setting is present-day Palo Alto, at what ostensibly began as a Linuxchix meeting, and what has evolved into a late-into-the-night installfest as we pore over Elise's laptop. Hopefully it'll be fully functional by the time we head back north to The City.

Since my last entry, I've been spending time trying to relax. I started rereading Godbody, which is this great novel by Theodore Sturgeon that I've read probably about six times. It has a similar plot to Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (another one of my favorites). Unfortunately, like a lot of Sturgeon, the book is currently out of print, but if you manage to find a copy I recommend it. Sturgeon's prose is amazing in general, though, so just go read his books and stories! (end plug :)

I've been enjoying my twm "theme" as well. I should put up a screenshot of it somewhere. Hooray for xmatrix -root!

Last night was Blake's 7 night at my house. Crackmonkey and I watched four episodes of the tacky British science fiction series. It's great!

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