Best License Plate Ever!

Found this during my week between trips, back in Waterloo--I've written earlier about how neat it is to see Smart Cars around on the streets up in Canada.

Apologies for the lack of recent posts; I've been travelling, getting minimal sleep, going to weddings, and hanging out with friends. I will try to do a more thorough writeup later.


Boston You're My.. hmmm.. waitasec...

I just visited Boston this past week—got to see some people and have a wonderful time: many thanks to everyone who had time to hang out. Got to spend a lot of time walking around town—including a day going from MIT to Chinatown, Chinatown to TEP, TEP to Micro Center, Micro Center to Central Square, and Central Square back to the Roost.

But I did get one weird feeling as I was wandering around town. The last time I was in Boston, it truly felt like I had returned home—this is where I both feel the most familiar and really belong; the place that has my circle of friends. But this time, although I was in a place that I am intimately familiar with and love, it didn’t feel like home the same way it did last time.

It does make sense—I’ve been living up in Waterloo for over six months now. Although it probably means I’m adjusting to my new life on schedule, it’s still a sad realization to make.

Tidy up good, eh?

My former boss and mentor at my old job just turned fifty, so to celebrate his birthday, he threw a black tie catered dinner at this house, inviting over about a dozen of his friends. I was honored to be on that list.

He has reached the point in his life where he can buy and enjoy really expensive first growth wines. So the main event of the evening was a series of vintages from his birth year: they included a 1955 Chateau Latour, Margaux, Lafite Rothschild, Petrus, Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion, and Penfolds Grange. Good god. All of them were in the three to four digit price range. I don’t know my palate really is close to being worthy of tasting those vintages, but I thoroughly enjoyed drinking them. And after all, when the hell else in my life am I going to try these wines?

The folks above are my advisor (a.k.a. The Boy Genius Professor), me, my former boss/mentor (a.k.a. Fearless Leader), and Chief Grad Student (um, I haven’t come up with a good nickname besides that). But looking at me and Fearless Leader, you can see why I referred to myself as, "the other short, fat, foulmouthed engineer" at the company.

Incidentally, that reminds me of a nice discovery while putting on my tuxedo that evening (Yes, I own my own tux. Yes, really, I'm straight.) The last time I wore it, the vest rode up enough so that there was this small patch of exposed white shirt sticking out from the bottom. Turns out that was a function of gut protrusion--when I put it on this time, the vest covered it all up; no white patch. Yay. This brought to you by the National Reduction of Kohta Act. Here's hoping that keeps going.


I Left My Harp in Sam Clam's Disco

It's just the punchline to a lame joke that I've never been able to purge from my internal backup tapes. Nothing more significant than that.

Apologies for the lack of recent posts: I’ve been relaxing and having a wonderful time in the San Francisco Bay Area. Example: sitting on Perlick’s balcony during the day and reading/enjoying the sunshine. All good.

Other highlights of my trip:
  • Went to the awesome second run theater near Perlick’s (The Parkway) to see a late show of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (a benefit showing for the Anarchy Society.. go figure). Man... I forgot how good the movie is, in its raw, atavistic way. Also, it made me realize that I’ve only seen the ‘edited for TV’ version in the past: for instance, I did not know that the mohawked villain’s costume includes assless leather chaps. Seems a bit impractical for riding around the barren Australian outback on a motorcycle, but then again, I wouldn’t mess around with somebody who puts up with that.
  • Spent an afternoon at the California Museum of Oakland. It’s pretty neat, because it covers California art, history, and natural science—-one subject per floor. Nice outdoor sculpture garden. Went to the special exhibit of sculpture by Bruce Beasley, who is incidentally the dad of one of the Teps I lived with. Cool big aluminum and bronze castings; intersecting geometric shapes.
  • On the way to the museum, I realized I was near Chinatown when I saw multiple old stooped Chinese people with grocery bags. Just followed their path back to find a place for a nice lunch--that indicator is as reliable as check cashing places and empty crack vials for bad neighborhoods.
  • Dinner at Chez Panisse with Perlick, Jen, and Schmooz. Menu was:
    Devil's Gulch rabbit salad with wine and mustard vinaigrette
    Sierra morel mushrooms and green asparagus feuillete (pastry) with chervil and chives
    Grilled wild striped bass with red wine and black pepper sauce, fried artichokes, and new potatoes
    Pistachio gateau glace with strawberry ice cream and Cannard Farm Lisbon lemon sherbet

    Wow. Utterly spectacular. Also the first time I've had morels--they're pretty wacky. Doing some web research, I found out they're biologically closer to highly evolved yeasts than to mushrooms.
  • Dim sum with Death, Colin, Perlick, U-Boat, Rugburn, Chris Onufryk, Julee, and Shervin. A walk out to the Embarcadero (shoreline of San Francisco, facing Oakland), to hang out under the sculpture 'Cupid's Span' by Oldenburg and van Brugge.

  • Went to see Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with Perlick, Bradley, and Jill. I think it was the biggest BlooterPlex I’ve been to in a while—-25 screens--21 showings of XXX2: State of the Union per day. Yikes. The movie was excellent--I wondered how something so wonderfully appealing to hard-core geeks actually got greenlighted and made.
  • Dinner at Isla Tortuga (chez U-Boat, Christy, and Julee), with Leper, Elizabeth, Collin, Dan from Squid Labs, and DanDroid. The next day, Perlick and I went to Berkeley Bowl with Christy--it has a spectacular selection of really fresh produce--e.g., four different types of avocadoes. I was given some fresh product to take back for T-Stop and Jessie. Christy fully admits that she's trying to to recruit me for the Bay Area Teps.
  • Got a tour of Squid Labs from U-Boat and Colin. They have a great space in Emeryville--part industrial former woodworking shop, with a CNC mill and more cool tools on the way. As Perlick put it, "It's like when you were a kid, and you wanted to have the ultimate cool secret lab to build shit in. It's like that."
  • Seeing Perlick sing with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra: they played:
    Haydn Symphony No. 70 in D major
    Mozart Sinfonia concertante, K.364
    Haydn Mass in B-flat major, Harmoniemesse

    The chorus only sang in the Haydn Mass. Neat piece. Not my usual thing--I usually find Haydn a bit boring, but this was the last work of his life, so it had a bit more appeal to me (because of musical complexity, not because it was the last one).
So. Currently in Boston. More fun here. Hopefully, I'll see you Boston folks while I'm in town.