Saturday, January 26, 2008

Heading out again

I fly out in the morning to the Bay area for the annual SPEC meeting. SPEC is a leading computer performance measurement organization, and my company is a member. I've never been able to attend the annual meeting, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm also hoping to visit some friends and clients while in the area.

The bad news is that I have to head to the airport at 8:45 a.m. in the morning on a Sunday. Usually at that time I'm just getting into the best part of my sleep. So it goes. I will also miss my usual late-Sunday-morning exercise; perhaps I'll atone for it at the hotel.

The hotel represents an odd sort of homecoming, because for over five years I averaged one week a month working in the Bay area at a group there that reported to me and staying at the same hotel that is hosting the SPEC meeting.

Dinner tonight will be at Piedmont, a restaurant I've mentioned before. Follow that link, and you'll see tonight's menu. I'm already salivating over a few dishes, particularly the gnocchi with Umbrian black truffles. I have enough faith in these fine folks that I'm predicting a great meal ahead.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stuck in outline prison & random stuff

and I'm feeling blue about it. I've never taken this long to finish an outline, though admittedly Overthrowing Heaven is only my third book and rather a complex one. Still, I'm sure I've allowed the holidays, the travel, and the insane pace at work to slow me.

I must do better.

In minor news,

* The ALA didn't give One Jump Ahead a Reading List award, but the book did make the short list, which was kinda cool. Go me.

* I pwned Sarah for the second night in a row at RPS. Go me again.

* Good Luck, Chuck was funnier than we had feared it might be.

* Henry's Gelato rocks. It's not up to what we ate in Florence, but it's not far off.

* Kurt Pellegrino laughing about the hole in his lip after his victory in Wednesday night's UFC Fight Night was one of the stranger tidbits I've seen recently in a UFC show.

MI-5 again

I know I've plugged it too much, but I can't stop myself from praising it again. Tonight, we watched the final (tenth) episode of season five, and it was amazingly good and tense. The show manages to take over-the-top concepts and execute them so well that you fall for them and find them believable. I can't wait for the next season.

On the RPS front, last night Sarah broke my five-long winning streak, but I regained the advantage tonight with a brutal four-hit, two-game win. Ouch.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ten things you should never do

In no particular order, though I'll number them because that's what you do with these lists:

10. Change your clothes or your haircut because someone tells you you're too old for that anymore. Screw them.

9. Forget you were a teenager. (Or, if you were a teenager, pretend you're not.) That intensity you feel now: it's hard to manage, sure, but it's a good thing.

8. Stop cutting children some slack. You were one of them once. Okay, maybe you don't have to make exceptions for every kid, but most of them.

7. Stop reading. Sure, this is self-serving, but reading is good for you--and it tastes better than vegetables.

6. Stop laughing. Humor heals.

5. Treat an innocent server badly. Anyone can be nice to someone with power over him. Be nice to those over whom you have (temporary) power.

4. Decide you're too old to exercise. The research speaks for itself on this point, but the exercise is also often its own reward.

3. Stop loving at least a few people so much your heart sometimes hurts with how strongly you feel. They don't have to be lovers; family and friends will do nicely.

2. Stop listening to new music. Another great song is always awaiting you.

1. Stop having dreams you may never achieve. They light the way, lead us forward, make us better than we could ever otherwise be.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Travel day

Worked late, got less sleep than I wanted, and then resumed the cycle. Worked, worked out, showered, packed, ate, and then dove into the joys of modern airport travel. The lines were unpleasant but no more so than usual.

American Airlines gave me one piece of good news: its folks had found the glasses I'd left on the plane on the way to Boston, and they held them for me at Logan Airport. I was pleased to have them back.

The Admiral's Club failed me--me and many others--because we could never get full connectivity. So, no email for me, but much frustration.

The flight itself was bumpy but tolerable, though on a regional commuter jet so cramped I could not work on my notebook PC. Frustrating.

Family dinner was at Cinelli's tonight; that was fun.

It's after five in the morning, and I'm still working, so that tells you how it's gone.

I also had the pleasure of giving myself two allergy shots tonight. That's really overstating the hassle, however. Though I had a severe needle phobia when I began taking the allergy shots over five years ago, I'm long since over that problem. I can watch as I push the needles into my skin, and it simply doesn't bother me anymore.

Back to work for a bit more, and then I will finally crash.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Arisia report, day 5

Up late after a reasonable sleep, work, and then to the gym. Split the time between the recumbent exercise bike and the treadmill, which was a nice variation. Had to remind myself yet again not to sing along with the rock music from my iPod, because with my Etymotic in-ear buds filling my head with sound, I can't hear how loud I get. My singing voice sucks, so I do no one a favor by accompanying the songs.

A quick shower and off I went to my third panel, this one on the Singularity. Like my other two panels, this one was SRO. Unfortunately, also like them today's discussion turned into a free-for-all a bit too quickly for my taste, with the audience taking way more time than the panelists. Still, it was an interesting, if overly rambling conversation, and I generally enjoyed it.

After the panel, as is my wont I fell into a familiar pattern: lunch at Trident, back to the room to work...and work...and work.

Dinner was extraordinary: the incredibly expensive but lovely Chef's Journey at L'Espalier, a grand Boston French restaurant. With the exception of the beef and pork bites on the three-meat plate, the many dishes didn't miss a beat. The beef and pork were surprisingly bland, probably overcooked--unlike the lamb, which was exquisitely flavorful. Aside from that one misstep and service that every now and then felt one server short of what the room demanded, this meal could stand proudly next to any dinner I've eaten at any French restaurant--and that includes Joel Robuchon at the Mansion and Restaurant Guy Savoy. Heady company, indeed.

After that, I--you guessed it--returned to work. I work entirely too much for my taste, but that's how it goes. Perhaps my new assistant, whom I will for the moment refer to only as A, will help me reclaim some of my life. I hope so.

Overthrowing Heaven calls to me, and to it I go.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Arisia report, day 4

Today, I slept late and did not exercise; shame on me. Another hotel cart lunch preceded work, a peek at the Patriots game, and then the first of my two panels.

This one had appeared promising, because it focused on "food geekery" and why so many SF fans are foodies or at least food geeks. The discussion quickly devolved, however, into little more than chaos, so I was pleased when it ended.

A brief work break, then off I went to my second panel, this one on the depiction of hacking in the media. All of the panelists had legitimate qualifications, and all but one were interesting; you can guess, however, which person dominated the conversation. Still, the room was packed, those of us on the panel all made some points and agreed and disagreed in useful proportions, and the hour passed reasonably quickly and well.

Dinner this evening was at Oleanna, which features Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. All our dishes were quite good, with the deviled eggs with tuna and black olives a particular standout. I definitely recommend dining here if you're in the Boston area.

As usual at this time of night, I must return to the novel.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Arisia report, day 3

A bit over six hours of sleep, a half hour on the recumbent exercise bicycle in the gym, a shower, and I was ready to face the world. Lunch was a pair of barely warm hot dogs from a cart in the hotel lobby. The world won that one.

We then went through the art show, which was typical of the similar exhibits at regional conventions of recent years: small, heavy on prints, and largely unimpressive.

A panel on Studio Ghibli sounded promising, with a tease that we'd get to see bits of Miyazaki's Earthsea, but the audience proved to know more than the panelists, and the video was almost entirely older films. Earthsea's credits ran, and then we had to leave the room. Quite disappointing.

We prowled the dealer's alley, which was basically most of the rooms on the third floor, but found nothing we wanted to buy.

After work in the room, we joined the long line for the masquerade. The show was on par with regional con standards, but it also struck me as more proof that the days of costuming as a widely held interest in fandom are sadly behind us.

Dinner was at O Ya, a restaurant without a Web site. A fusion of sushi, tapas, and a wide variety of non-traditional ingredients resulted in a delightful meal. High points included the foie gras presented as nigiri, the tuna, and some thin, melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu beef slices seared ever so delicately. A meal at O Ya can, depending on the number of courses you choose, be insanely expensive, but in this case the cost was proportionate to the food joy.

And now writing beckons, so to it I go.


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