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Wednesday, January 30, 2002
Just finished reading Home of the Gentry by Ivan Turgenev; an enjoyable read on one of the classic themes, lost love. I've wanted to read Turgenev for years, probably since I read that Hemingway was an admirer.
Started reading Maps and Dreams, Hugh Brody's description of the land and people of the Canadian subarctic, with a recommendation by Paul Theroux on the front cover. It's a book that has been recommended by others and I'm finally getting around to taking from my shelf to read. Now that I'm trying to cut back on my book consumption, I'm re-examining the many unread books I've bought over the years.
This week has been a bit of a shock to my system. Instead of the one part time job and the volunteer work I've taken on over the past couple of years I now have a long commute to a nearly full time job plus the part time and volunteer work. I'm hoping to only commute a few times a week, working at home when possible. Real deadlines however are going to take some getting used to...
Saturday, January 26, 2002
Global warming isn't all bad; with a high of nearly 60 degrees today it was almost like late Spring. We rode 30 miles out and back on the W&OD Trail which was as crowded as a summer day. Even more so since many people find it too hot to ride around here in the heat of summer.
Bike to Work Day planning is getting into full gear. The event will be on Friday, May 3 at the Reston Towncenter. I think there are a lot of people who could potentially bike commute in this area and I'm really optimistic that this event could motivate a few of them.
Thursday, January 24, 2002
GPS toys are popping up all over. Steve Wozniak is rumored to have started a company that will develop a PDA-like device with GPS and wireless technology to allow people to find their way around their world:
``Recent advances in global positioning software (GPS) systems and antenna technology coupled with the declining cost of processing power and two-way networking make the possibilities for new devices and services really exciting,'' Wozniak said in a statement.
Or, if you just want to find the nearest pub, you can use a watch being developed by students at Bristol University.
Tuesday, January 22, 2002
The 3 hour commute will take a little getting used to. At least I'll be able to get rid of that pile of unread magazines that's been growing for the past 6 months. From my house to my new office it took a little over 1.5 hours and cost about $3.50. round trip and consisted of a bus ride, 2 train transfers and a 15 minute walk. And if I visit the client site, it's another hour by subway. I'm beginning to realize the benefits of a short commute.
Monday, January 21, 2002
It looks like the European GPS system is being abandoned due to pressure from the U.S. We say that it is because the frequencies of the European system and the U.S. system may clash, but it's probably because the U.S. couldn't control the accuracy and availability of the signal like then can now.
Saturday, January 19, 2002
The tiny gizmo market is really heating up. The new Pogo is a cell phone, PDA, MP3 player and web browser that connects to the Internet at 56K speed. It costs $433. (299 UK pounds). Calls are charged per minute ($.145/min.) rather than a monthly fee, which I much prefer. Internet access is $11./month which includes email accounts. Costs are finally becoming what I call reasonable.
You can interact with your GPS attached to your PDA using voice activation software from Ectaco.
Snow is really starting to accumulate outside. Time to settle in for the long weekend, or as K likes to say "we're trapped like rats".
Friday, January 18, 2002
After seeing the first part of Ken Burns' new series Mark Twain, I was pleased to find a copy of "A Tramp Abroad" as I was browsing the used book shelf at the library. Then I picked up "Daydream Nation" by Sonic Youth and "The Gentle Side of John Coltrane" in the cutout bin at Tower Records. I hadn't realized that Sonic Youth were the creators of "Teenage Riot", a song that brought back memories of the days of punk. It's now time to figure out what books must go; there's no more room in the bookshelves.
Luckily Monday is a holiday so that my first week of work will be a short one. Not sure I'm ready to return to working longer hours, in fact I'm real sure I'm not ready, but when are we ever ready for most changes in our lives.
Neil Young is coming to town in March. Too bad he's bringing his geezer friends. I'm real tempted to get tickets just to see him. I've got until 10 a.m. tomorrow to decide.
Thursday, January 17, 2002
It's been a really busy week, probably because I'm trying to tie up some loose ends before starting back to work full time. Plus I was preparing for a public hearing before the planning commission on our proposed trail plan. For the first time ever, on-road bike routes were added to the county trail plan, so we expected some opposition. Fortunately there were many supportive cyclists who waited around, in some cases until past midnight, to speak in support of the plan. I guess all the work and late night meetings were worth it, at least so far. We have another public hearing before the Board of Supervisors next month.
Will this be the transportation system of the future? "The ULTra (Urban Light Transport) scheme involves driverless cars taking passengers around the capital on a dedicated track." I heard about a system like this a few years back, and even envisioned something like it while in high school.
Tuesday, January 15, 2002
Happened across The Lithographs of Stow Wengenroth at the library the other day and I've been poring over the lush black and white prints ever since. There's something very appealing about the texture of a well executed lithograph. I've produced some OK prints, but never was able to create the smooth gray shadings of these. I'm motivated to sign up for another class.
After searching many sites, I located a used copy of the book at Amazon's zshops. They must not update their listings very often, as the first time I paid for a copy a message was returned saying it was now out of stock. I did locate another, more expensive copy, and now I see that I could have bought a new one at the Boston Public Library site. I had just assumed that it was out of print, given that this type of realistic art created during the 40's-70's was out of fashion.
Monday, January 14, 2002
I need to carry a small voice recorder for those long bike rides when I do my best thinking. I tend to forget all those good ideas after the rides.
In Germany, pedestrians are actually encouraged, by having pedestrian activated lights that actually work, adequate sidewalks and trails, etc. Back in the U.S, students are given citations for jaywalking. after one of their fellow students was killed in front of the high school. The students want a pedestrian bridge, parents and administrators built a fence to keep the students from crossing.
Saturday, January 12, 2002
Here's an intriguing little computer that fits in the car radio slot. It comes with a GPS unit, with maps on CD, plays MP3s, has wireless communication, a 5GB disk, parallel, serial, and USB connections, etc. for around $1,000. It's a little tough to use the keyboard on the Interstate, but I suppose you could peck out a quick email message at those really long traffic lights.
It felt great to get in a long bike ride today. The Trail was packed with cyclists who I suspect were getting out for the first time after the holidays. My spandex tights were a little tighter than usual. Time for a diet and some indoor workouts on the cycling treadmill.
Wednesday, January 09, 2002
Salon's Laura Miller lists her favorite books of the year.
Tuesday, January 08, 2002
I seem to be over my flu episode. According to this site, there's no such thing as the 24-hour flu. It was probably the cottage cheese that had been hanging around too long. I should have known not to eat it when the cats turned their noses up at it.
Speaking of 24 hours, 24 is finally on again tonight. It's almost embarassing to admit to being hooked on a tv series, but this one seems to be an exception to the usual run of the mill fare.
With people driving SUVs and living in the country, driving their kids to school, is it surprising that they are getting fatter and breathing worse air?
Monday, January 07, 2002
Never should have gotten that flu shot. I've had a cold ever since, and now I feel like I've been hit by the flu - fever, headache, bodyache, etc. The last time I had a flu shot was in college, back when a live culture was used. I was sick for a week. Of course I should have gotten the shot about 2 months ago, not just before travelling for a week.
Friday, January 04, 2002
Finished reading Sundog by Jim Harrison. It's one of those books that reads very much like an autobiography, which means it's very well written fiction, or a very similar event occurred in the life of Harrison. For some reason I enjoy reading about interesting, self-destructive people. The plot is about the narrator's trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to interview an engineer who has travelled the world building dams and large irrigation projects.
Started reading A Short History of the Printed Word by Warren Chappell. The book is beautifully designed (kudos to Textism).
Thursday, January 03, 2002
Took another look at "Momento" the other night, which is almost required in order to figure out the plot. I initially thought the movie was played in reverse, but on the second viewing I realized that there was one segment, that was actually the beginning of the movie, that was revisited periodically. Fascinating film.
Trying to enjoy this last bit of free time before going back to working mostly full time for a while. At least it will be winter for most of the time that I'll be working.
Find myself stopping every now and then and just looking at my surroundings as if for the first time, imagining what it would be like to have been dead, and to now be allowed to live. There is almost always something beautiful in even the most mundane sky, ordinary tree, person. One of the lingering effects of Sept. 11.
Tuesday, January 01, 2002
Google has become my preferred spell checker. "Did you mean: kazakhstan" when I entered "kazakstan" in the search field. I've been using Webster's Dictionary but since I'll probably enter the result into Google anyway, I go ahead and let Google recommend the correct word.
Based on a plug from Zeldman, checked out Hivelogic, and I agree with the positive comments and will probably check it out on a regular basis in the future. So many weblogs, so little time.
At least I've cleared up most of the backlog of New Yorker magazines that I collected from the free magazine exchange and never got around to perusing. The July 9, 2001 issue was especially memorable with articles about OJ, mideast terrorism, shady dealings by Mobil Oil in Kazakhstan, and the gastric bypass operation. Interesting if not memorable.
On Sunday we decided to catch some of the shows at the National Gallery before they leave town. I could have spent the entire day there. My favorite was "A Century of Drawing: Works on Paper from Degas to LeWitt". The art of putting pen or pencil to paper seems to be finally getting is due. Surprisingly, there were many of what I consider to be paintings included. The "Aelbert Cuyp" show included many of his drawings, which I enjoyed more than the paintings from the drawings. I think they are more immediate and alive. "Best Impressions: 35 Years of Prints and Sculpture from Gemini G.E.L." was too much like modern art shows of a few years back, filled with abstractions that don't seem to hold up over time.
New Year's Eve was spent with friends, dancing to country and western music at a local rec center. Probably the best new year's eve celebration I've ever attended.