Josh's Weather Report
We have actually managed to move back in. It is nice to be settling in at long last. There will be no further renovations in the near future, though we can strongly recommend a contractor.
The site that my strange collection of maps and charts and stuff is hosted on has started using https instead of http, which breaks the charts that fetch map tiles using http. Here are direct links to the ones that are otherwise broken: the vector map, and the traced path map version of the same.
About four months with no kitchen and no ground floor running water. We've thrown up our hands and moved into an apartment for a month or two so the new guys can, it is hoped, go super fast. There will be lingering issues regarding window surface area, but we are looking forward at this point to just being done. What an unholy hassle.
Reading: Underworld, Don DeLillo, 1997; Read: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey, 1962; The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett, 1989; Holes, Louis Sachar, 2000; Coders at Work, Peter Seibel, 2009; A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1980; Longitude:<suppressed subtitle>, Dava Sobel, 1995; The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery, 2006/2008; One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez, 1967/1970; The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway, 1926; Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truman Capote, 1951; V., Thomas Pynchon, 1963; Bag of Bones, Stephen King, 1998; A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving, 1989; Heroes of Troy, Lawton Bryan Evans, 1924; Pattern Recognition, William Gibson, 2003
Fourteen weeks. New arrangement is generating a little more progress though, and without all the previous embarrassing shoddiness.
An absurdly nice guy found my keys and upon seeing the YMCA membership tag on the ring dropped them off at the Y, where he correctly hoped that the front desk folks would relay them to me! Wavering faith in humanity restored, and things are looking up.
I had stupidly left them in the bike lock itself somehow, dangling there in the drizzle at the station while I obliviously rode away toward work. I now have access to motorized transportation for several days that I wouldn't otherwise have had, and I can avoid having to tow the car six miles across town.
Twelve weeks, and a bit of a fresh start.
It turns out that replacing lost Volkswagen keys is amazingly expensive.
I lost the first key skiing at Blue Hills a few years ago. Unable to cope with the prospect of driving all the way up to northern New Hampshire, I took the kids over for the day. Given that it was only about fifteen minutes from the house I figured we'd be okay skiing for two or three hours and then be able to come back and do something better with the afternoon, but I ended up there for a good chunk of the whole day just crushing the one mogul field they had; it was about three or four moguls wide, which is enough when you're alone, and it was long enough that I could just barely make it to the bottom of the bumps at speed. Their proportion and speed was just about exactly right and it was a beautiful day. Only at the end of the day did I realize that my keys had fallen out of my unzipped jacket pocket. I marveled at the fact that this had never happened to me in all the many hundreds of days I had previously spent skiing. Then I sheepishly called the lovely wife for a rescue, which was luckily only about fifteen minutes away. Given the distance from most ski areas to anywhere I've ever lived, it could have been much, much worse.
I lost the second key the other day on the T. It was really unexciting: I locked my bike to the rack, got on the trolley with the keys in my pocket, rode to work, and realized as I was going into the building that they had fallen out somewhere on one of the two trains or one bus I'd been on, or on a platform between the two. Gone. Luckily the cable lock I had on the bike yielded pretty quickly to the pair of eight dollar bolt cutters that Amazon sent me, so at least the bike didn't get mangled or stolen (though I did get an unnerving sense of just how easily a bike can get taken by an even slightly interested thief).
So now the car is locked in the driveway. The valet key is somewhere on the planet, but I haven't found it because we haven't unpacked from moving because we're still under construction, and because my time is worth something. And because it's probably locked inside the car.
Fixing this requires a call to the dealership to get a quote for the new keys, a call to a locksmith or two to get a more reasonable quote, a call back to the dealer who is now quoting me a much lower price, a drive to the dealer to show documentation proving that I own the car so he can order two custom fancy new keys from the place in New Jersey where they carve them from narwhal tusks, another trip to the dealer in a few days to pick the keys up, another ride to the dealer, this time by tow truck from the house, where I will have unlocked (but not started) the car with my new keys so the tow truck can safely tow it, after all of which the folks in the Service department (or is it Parts?) can use their locked-down proprietary computer stuff to stick a new set of matching secret codes onto the anti-theft chips in the keys and in the steering column of the car so that the immobilizer doesn't kick in and stop the car from going. At some point in there I'll shed a few hundred dollars. If all goes well.
Eleven weeks, but some work at least being done now.
No running water on the ground floor for seven weeks, now. Strongly not recommended.
Living through a construction delay is the worst thing in the world even though it means no plaster dust for a couple of weeks.
Plaster dust is the worst stuff in the world.
I am reading a book whose title consists of a single word, longitude, but appended to this by a colon is a subtitle that is obnoxiously long and reads more like a synopsis than something as dignified as a book title. Generally, books shouldn't have subtitles. In this particular case, anyway, I refuse to look at the subtitle and I will not reproduce it on this page.
By this point in life I've pretty much come around to the fact that I'm not competent to write a book, but I defend my right to snipe pettily at the name of one, particularly if I otherwise like the book.
Quick reading note: going straight from Thomas Pynchon to Ernest Hemingway is kind of a shock. The most baroquely complicated paragraphs I'm willing to read to the densest, simplest sounding sentences one can imagine writing in English. Not even any contractions! Everything is so spare that if I miss a word or two I have to reread the whole page in order not to get completely lost.
The remote site from which I'd been leeching map tiles has vanished from the internets, which means that my fancy running maps have evaporated for the time being. Once free time returns we'll get that straightened back out.
Almost every web site into which one must execute changes of address (billing and/or mailing) is awful. Some are functional at least, but mostly they're just bottomlessly bad. It's sad to think of my life being spent writing such web sites. I sure hope I do better for the most part, when I'm at work.
A week in Bar Harbor is not really enough time.
I've been reading Lawton Bryan Evans' Heroes of Troy, which tells the story of The Iliad in what I imagine to be the voice of a stuffy old professor writing an astonishingly violent children's book. It's super stuffy, and the story is of course completely unfit for children, though the eight-year-old seems to love it anyway in small doses. When reading it aloud I sometimes skip the one sentence asides about messengers randomly beheaded in frustration, or the dozen captured lads ritually murdered at a funeral.
What's baffling, of course, is how I managed to go all these decades without even having once read The Iliad in any context. I blame computers.
There is nothing like a cold, rainy day to remind you that running a marathon in April was a good thing to put off for one more year.
First weekend without skiing in a month. First outdoor run from the house in probably two or three months. I even managed to avoid sitting in the car for more than an hour at a time all weekend, which was a nice change. Now if only we could start remembering that just because the sun is still up doesn't necessarily mean that we shouldn't start feeding the kids dinner and getting them ready for bed.
Modern laptop computer hardware is pretty much infinitely superior to that of the computers of old in all ways but one: they all seem to come with crappy, mushy little chiclet keyboards. These crap keyboards were an obvious step backward when they first became a thing five or ten years ago or whatever, and they remain kind of a drag, especially for folks who spend a decent fraction of their day typing. In response, I bought a halfway fancy keyboard which, despite being a little quieter than the old timey keyboards with their super loud buckling spring keyswitches, still manages to sound like the damn apocalypse whenever I type anything. It fits right atop the laptop** It's two or three times thicker than the whole rest of the laptop. So there. and totally obscures the silent and mushy chiclet keyboard. Instead the computer now sounds like a real computer should: clackety and loud.
I had forgotten the sensation of starting at a new company and feeling completely incompetent. Here's hoping it fades quickly.
It turns out that hardly anyone** Maybe half a dozen people on the chairlift despite very nice conditions and a pretty view. Very few people on the trails themselves. skis at Mittersill even on nearly perfect days with enough snow. The only chairlift is a slow double chair, which was just fine given how badly I needed to rest between runs. The runs were pretty nearly uninterrupted packed powder moguls from top to bottom, and I only spotted a few dozen other people there at all. I did learn a valuable lesson, though: skiing alone means that there is nobody to encourage me to take a break from the moguls; I was completely shot, almost wobbly from overexertion, after three hours.
Sigh; this isn't supposed to be a literal weather report.
There is yet more snow here in the suburbs. Despite last weekend's pilgrimage to Mount Ellen, we have skied fewer days per unit of snowfall than any winter I've ever spent in New England. Still nowhere to run except inside, on the hamster wheels at the gym.
The Boston area has seen about eight feet of snow in the last month. Adding to the fun, it has stayed below freezing for pretty much that whole time. So yesterday we drove up to Bretton Woods and skied, which was superb; the snow up there, even though it's less than we've received here in the dense suburbs, is almost bottomless. If only it were about two hours closer.
There is no running when the snow obstructs everywhere that one would normally run. I'll need country skis soon if this continues. And booze.
That there are a whole bunch of feet of snow on the ground would be fine except for two things. The worst one is that we've only been skiing once: yesterday, at Blue Hills. The conditions were spectacular by any measure, and even the woods were totally skiable, but no amount of snow can make the mountain more than three hundred feet tall. We had tried to drive up to Bretton Woods but only got as far as southern New Hampshire before it became clear that the drive was going to take at least five hours each way.
There is also the damn shoveling and snowblowing. There isn't anywhere else to put snow.
After five snow days in the last week and a half, it's good to be back to something like a routine, even if the streets are still perilously narrow and full of pedestrians fleeing the mostly untended sidewalks. Hopefully, as a city, we'll either learn to plow streets out to their full width or move the curbs closer together so the streets are all super skinny and drivers have to slow the hell down all year long. Maybe use the extra space created thereby for sidewalks or bike lanes, which we could then maybe also learn to plow.
The first post in this space's predecessor was full of skepticism that the local football team (with the young backup quarterback!) could pull out a Super Bowl win aganist the Rams. That was fourteen years ago. We've been spoiled.
After a hiatus for the holidays, which involved an awful lot of working nights and weekends, and a week of moving snow around on and off, which has involved an awful lot of having to work from home also, I finally had a little bit of time to fix up our map code situation.** If only the snow were sufficiently well cleared from Boston area sidewalks for running; then I could also fix up the I've hardly run at all in two months situation.Still need to make those colors less awful, too.
Ran today, and after several years of refusing to sign up for one of those sites where you send them all your location data and they figure out for you where you ran and how fast, I've finally gotten around to publishing some of this stuff myself.
So this will soon contain the route I ran this morning. For now it's an old track from a couple of months ago that I have sitting around. Still playing with the colors.
More Antarctic stuff from Kansas, from whence the trip is based:
Dad is going to Antarctica again via half a dozen cities or so. I bet he finds some rocks! Since the continent is full (ha!) of scientists they have internet access and the occasional satellite phone, and he promises to keep us posted.
The only proper way to deal with the frustration of a trafficky commute is to gather a bunch of data about said commute and then plot the hell out of it. That the time looks basically constant over two and a half years is actually kind of depressing: I had been sure that I was sitting in something like ten times as much traffic recently as I had been several years ago.
I have managed to figure out a way to stop this server from freezing every few weeks: just have a robot restart the damn thing periodically. It now does.
The best part is that the testing of this new setup consisted mostly of going to the Blue Hills Brewery and buying some beer; and then ensuring that everything was still running when I returned. I have an operational server and beer, and times are good.
The seminal mid-1980's computing screenshot of my youth tucked into a modern photo, 80x bigger. I must be very, very old.
In a fit of late night productivity I figured out how to use bl.ocks.org. I then remembered another fit of noodling around coding up some charts from something like a year and a half ago, so I put some of the half-pretty ones up at jcdcodes.