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Sunday, March 31, 2002
Zeldman points out a couple of excellent sites on web authoring:
Just returned from a short weekend at Virginia Beach. Despite the cold, sometimes wet weather it felt good to breathe the sea air and feel the wind in my face. We rode our mountain bikes through First Landing State Park on a decent unpaved trail. Then we rode through Virginia Beach. Because of the many tourists who rent bikes, motorists seemed a little more accommodating. I always enjoy riding through the back streets of a strange city.
We also climbed to the top of the Cape Henry Lighthouse, the first Federally funded construction project. It's a few feet away from where the first British settlers stepped ashore before moving to Jamestown. During the Revolutionary War, the French fleet under Admiral comte deGrasse chased the British out of the Chesapeake Bay and kept them from resupplying Lord Cornwallis's British army at Yorktown. Cornwallis later surrendered to Washington. A tip of the hat to the French...
Thursday, March 28, 2002
Finally updated my Cross Country bike trip reports from a trip taken back in 1999. I had put the html together quickly and it is very basic. The major flaw was that there was no easy way to navigate sequentially through the reports. I modified a perl script to put some links at the top of the page and put "Previous", "Next" at the bottom. The reports still get some traffic as there is a link to them from the Adventure Cycling Journals page.
Slashdot has posted Questions posed to Donald Knuth, author of The Art of Programming at a recent talk by him. At classes he taught at Stanford, the last day was devoted to answering questions from students on just about any topic imaginable. He follows the same format for this talk. The text looks like it is extracted (poorly) from a PDF file.
O'Reilly has posted a chapter from Richard Stallman's book Free as in Freedom. He is one of the more colorful computer geeks around.
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
The Fox series 24 continues to be entertaining although the dialogue degenerates into what I imagine is soap opera speak more and more lately (of course you'll be OK at the safe house...).
Read a good article in New Yorker, a profile of author Mark Salzman. He discusses the difficulties of writing his latest novel, Lying Awake, his early desire to be a cellist (until he heard Yo-Yo Ma play), and his ability to take up the instrument again later in life.
Monday, March 25, 2002
Wearing shorts on a balmy Spring day.
Spent some time over the weekend with a college classmate. We haven't seen each other for over 25 years. When thinking back on that time I realize how wrapped up in my own thoguhts and emotions I usually was, and that I didn't really know that many people very well. We had a great visit and I hope to catch up with him again in a few years.
Friday, March 22, 2002
As much as I hate to purchase new books (I'd much prefer the same book at half the price or less at a used bookstore), I couldn't resist getting copies of Amsterdam by Ian McEwen and The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald. My rationalization was that it will be difficult to find these in a used bookstore. The problem with that logic is that it's the same excuse I like to use for stopping at every used bookstore I find, searching out the next hard-to-find treasure.
Reading Picturing Will by Ann Beattie and enjoying it. I saw her read 10 years ago when I was in Charlottesville for a year of graduate studies. It was just after she had published the book. Most of the action happens in and around C'ville (as they say down there), which adds another element of interest.
Spent most of the day writing what should have been a simple perl script to read in lines of data, sort on a column, find like features and compare their attributes. After not having programmed for a few months it takes a while for me to do some of the most basic functions. And with the perl syntax, it's so easy to misuse a brace or bracket when dealing with multi-dimension arrays. Even so, I enjoy the satisfaction of having a program work after many failed attempts. I'm the plan once, compile many kind of programmer rather than one who works it all out first and then writes the code. A couple of sites were very helpful in figuring out how to work with 2-D arrays: Understanding References from the Perl Paraphernalia site, and array tricks from perl circus.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
Finally, a fast food chain will offer a veggie burger on their menu. Not that I trust Burger King to use non-beef products when cooking the veggie burgers, but it's a step in the right direction.
Finished reading The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald. It's an excellent but sad book about the lives of people affected by the Holocaust. The use of small black and white photos turns out to be a very effective technique.
Monday, March 18, 2002
Maureen Corrigan also raves about Atonement on the March 18 Fresh Air program.
Maybe it's because I spent some time growing up in England, but for some reason I enjoy these cool, cloudy, wet days. Rode to a nearby trail to check out some trail damage with the county crew and on the return trip the spitting rain turned into a drizzle. Was pretty soaked when I got home but it felt good. Somehow the outdoor experience seems more real when there's a little discomfort involved.
Jonathan Yardley, one of the Post book reviewers, is not easily impressed. So it was interesting that he wrote a a glowing review of Ian McEwan's new book Atonement' in Sunday's Book World, and then today wrote another column about how McEwan's impressive career. Maybe I'll finally get around to reading his earlier book Amsterdam, which won the Booker Prize and is said to be a good introduction to his work.
Thursday, March 14, 2002
Another 4 hour commute day. I've got to figure out a way to combine a bike commuting and public transit. It's mostly a matter of good planning and carrying less stuff. If only our buses had bike racks, it would be much easier.
There's a good article by Bruce Sterling in which he more or less free associates about the current state of the web, including the role that web logging currently plays.
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Sure would have been nice if my ISP had let users know that our DNS server IP numbers changed. It took me a couple of days trying to figure out what was wrong. The usually excellent tech support was clueless, other than to say that they just installed a new phone system. Other than this glitch, I have had almost no complaints about this ISP for the 5 or so years I've been using their services, which doesn't seem to be the norm. Glad there are a few independent ISPs still functioning.
One downside to the dialup problems I was having are the 200 spam messages that were trapped the last couple of days by my mail filter. I see that the most common subject line is now "re: your order".
Sunday, March 10, 2002
It's time to write your Senators to encourage them to approve the new fuel efficiency standards. The Post has a good article on the Senate debate on the CAFE standard.
It felt good to get in another bike ride today. Instead of running errands and then trying to find time to ride, we combine both activities by cycling to the vet and to visit relatives. Most people wouldn't even consider doing anything but driving. As I was walking back from picking up a few things at the nearby grocery store I saw one of my neighbors getting out of his SUV and enter the local Starbucks. Minutes later, as I was returning home, I saw him pull into to his parking spot. I'm sure he never considered doing anything other than driving.
The robins are flocking and the forsythia are popping. Spring can't be far behind.
Saturday, March 09, 2002
It's difficult getting rid of favorite books, but some I haven't opened for years and I need the space, so I took a load of books to the local used bookstore. They usually only offer about 10% of the retail price, but it's enough for another book or two. I've decided that if I really need a book that I've sold, it's another excuse to search the local bookstores.
Friday, March 08, 2002
The spring peepers were in full voice today as I rode home after the tour of DC that was the final event of the National Bike Summit. We rode to the site of the planned New York Avenue Metro station that will include a segment of the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Mayor Tony Williams is a cyclists and he gave a great, short talk. He was preceeded by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton who helped obtain the TEA-21 grant from $6M. Felt good to get some long miles in.
Started using my beta homepage, but removed the perl script that retrieved the weather, and the latest entry from here. It was taking too long to load, which I dislike in other sites with scripts. The homepage needs work, but it was redesigned because the old one was such a random collection of stuff that those new to the site, and who didn't know me, were confused as to what was me and what was everything else. Now I won't use that site as my personal homepage but will use the links, which is really the old homepage. Wish I had more time to devote to creating a decent site but I'm too busy fretting about working on my new assignment. More on that later.
Wednesday, March 06, 2002
It's a great feeling to discover an author that one enjoys, and to anticipate reading through their body of work. That's how I feel about W.G. Sebald after reading about half of The Emigrants. It's a bionovel filled with interesting, small, black and white photos that relate to the plot. The stories are filled with colorful, tragic characters, most of whom have were affected in some way by the Holocaust.
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
The Virginia legislature is proposing that Segway scooters be allowed on sidewalks and trails. Can't wait until the next time I'm turning a corner and meet a Segway blasting along. The legislation doesn't specifically reference the Segway; rather it's an "Electric personal assistive mobility device" - a self-balancing two-nontandem-wheeled device that is designed to transport only one person and powered by an electric propulsion system that limits the device's maximum speed to fifteen miles per hour or less.
Saturday, March 02, 2002
While following links from other blogs I happened across kumquat's musings, another nicely designed blog that I'll probably add to my list of regular reads. The latest posting was about kumquat's food cravings, the most recent being Vietnamese noodle soup, which we had for lunch.
It was our first visit to the noodle shop, Pho 99, in Herndon, VA. Highly recommended, although the sauce that came with the vegetarian tofu rice dish contained fish broth. We also stopped by the nearby Salvation Army store. I can usually spend hours there, but their book selection was pretty limited. I did pick up Picturing Will by Ann Beattie (New York Times review), and a novel about a French priest in the new world, Saint in the Wilderness by Glenn Kittler. I've never heard of the later but it looked interesting. After searching for a few minutes on Google I see that Saint is on someones Want List at Significant Books. I plan to check out the Want List on a regular basis. Selling a book there would sure beat the 10% of cover price that I get at the local used book store.
Friday, March 01, 2002
Eight hours of work, four hours on public transit. Somehow the mix doesn't seem quite right, but it beats driving a car. And I'm getting caught up on all those slightly used New Yorker Magazines that I've been accumulating.