Recent blog entries for stephane

Wow.

Life has been busy for me, until fairly recently. I don't think I can really say anything more about Eazel than what others have posted: it was great working there with everybody, and I really do hope things turn out for the best for all parties involved.

While looking for work, the three phrases I see most often are "free drinks", "well-funded", and "Microsoft Outlook". I prefer the first two.

Tonight I'll be watching the Iron Chef Battle Ray at home with friends. I think the battles where the theme ingredient is likely to escape from the chef are some of the best ones. I hope no one tries to make manta ray gelato.

If this diary entry were a category on Jeopardy!, I think it would be "Potpourri".

It's spring with a vengeance here.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

-- William Wordsworth

Nothing of substance to report from today, but I wanted to share a passage from something I'm currently reading. The passage in question is from Vinyl Leaves: Walt Disney World and America, by Stephen M. Fjellman. The book discusses the Disney theme park's rewriting of history and culture to suit corporate aims. Fascinating stuff. Anyway, here's the quote, which has nothing to do with Disney at all.

Joel Achenbach characterizes this turn as "creeping surrealism" -- the general fear, brought about by the manipulation of narrative and public discourse, that "nothing is real anymore." His introductory example of what people have come to understand as normal is taken from the back of a package of Pepperidge Farm "Nantucket" chocolate chunk cookies: "Only the bakers of Pepperidge Farm could pack so much scrumptious personality into classic American cookies....They added a heaping measure of fuss and bother. That meant making each cookie one of a kind, with an individual personality all its own. So they gave them rugged, irregular shapes, just as if someone had lovingly shaped each cookie by hand." Achenbach comments:

Each sentence lacks credibility, starting with "Only the bakers of Pepperidge Farm," etc., an absurd lie that, as trained consumers, we let pass. Beyond the quicksands of the language there are several levels of untruth: First, there's the Humble Down-Home Multinational Corporation affectation. Pepperidge Farm is a huge company that is itself owned by Campbell's, the world's largest soup company, yet it pretends these cookies are virtual Mom-and-Pop numbers. Fine. We can live with that. At least they don't claim that elves bake them in a brick oven in a hollow tree (as Keebler does).

What is more disturbing is that they have clearly designed a machine that makes cookies that look like a human being made them. And then -- astonishingly -- they confess the fakery right there on the back of the bag.

Not only has the line between realtiy and fiction become attenuated in the United States, but, says Achenbach, "Americans...no longer think the distinction matters...lies have been raised to an art form in this country, information manipulated so delicately, so craftily, with such unparalled virtuosity, that you can no longer tell the genuine from the fake, the virtuous from the profane."

"...and they had the best Christmas ever."

Yesterday was quite pleasant. Since I don't see much of my family these days, I spent the day with friends, and large quantities of food. Into one day I somehow managed to fit dim sum, a (semi-) close game of Scrabble(tm), the new Ang Lee film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, cooking dinner for five, and present opening. The film was very beautiful. I'd really like to see it again soon.

After I took leave of my friends for the day, I wanted to watch another film, but I was feeling a bit tired, so I watched three scenes from three different films. The first was the "like tears in rain" speech from Bladerunner, the second was the 'dancing' plastic bag from American Beauty, and the third was when Jen meets Kira for the first time in The Dark Crystal. It was a bit like movie dim sum -- just a little taste of everything.

The Eazelhackenapartmentisch is a bit lonely without eskil and mjs around. I should take advantage of their absence and watch some really bad movies or something.

Walking up Castro Street to the subway (is it a superway when it's above ground?), I saw a butterfly, of a type I'd never seen before, perched on some ivy. As I approached, it circled around my head and landed again. I thought that most butterflies migrate south for the winter, so it was a nice surprise to see one.

Back to more Fun With RPM.

Went on a shopping spree at Fry's (ostensible purpose of the trip being the reassembly of yakk's computer). As usual, I ended up heading to the checkout with an impulse item. This time it was a 400 mL beaker. I am truly impressed by the vast array of weird geek stuff Fry's seems to have. Maybe they'll branch out further into biotech and start stocking Pipetman.

More Iron Chef tonight.

According to a banner outside the gas station, 'Ride Muni "Free" on New Year's Eve'. Hmm...is that free as in beer?

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!

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