Archive for July 2002

Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Yesterday on the way to the airport I realized I'd forgotten to bring a book (since I'm between books, I put-off my final decision on what to read next until the morning of departure, having narrowed down my choices the evening before) to read on the plane. Faced the the grim prospect of purchasing something in the airport bookstore, I slogged in, expecting to settle for the latest from Oprah's book club. Imagine my delight when I saw two copies of Seabiscuit: An American Legend sitting on the display table.

I'd put Seabiscuit on my wish list ages ago, when it first came out. So I snapped it up and settled in for some good reading over breakfast on my way to New York. What a book! "A first-rate piece of storytelling" says the New York Times, and I couldn't agree more. I'm already half-way through and would like nothing more than to spend the rest of the day reading about the Depression and horse racing.

I'm really enjoying this book for several reasons: 1) I don't know anything about Seabiscuit, so hearing his story is compelling in and of itself, 2) the book opens up the world of jockeys and Thoroughbred racing, something about which I'm not very familiar, 3) I love it when books do that -- absorb you into unfamiliar surroundings and make it engaging and real, 4) I love this horse! There's a picture of his face about a third of the way through and I found myself thinking, "that's such a Seabiscuit expression!" when I saw it. That's how thoroughly and wonderfully Ms. Hillenbrand pulls you into the world and character of Seabiscuit.

Bryant Park Blogging

I [heart] NY wireless. How nice is this -- to be sitting at a little green French table beneath the trees in Bryant Park, blogging and emailing courtesy of Intel and NYC Wireless. Thanks folks!

Lost Gloss

I hate it when things like this happen: I've had this Bloom lip gloss in 'Cutie Pie' for ages, and don't even wear it much. For some reason, I decided to bring it along on this trip and discovered it's perfect for wear both day and night. Not too glam and not too bright, it was just right and I was so pleased. But it appears it was not meant to be -- after 24 hours of new-found love and rekindled appreciation for its glossing abilities, I lost it last night in a bar in SOHO.

Email Ist Kaput

It looks like my email is down for some reason, so if you're expecting to hear from me via email, please reset your expectations. Not sure what's up.

The Biscuit

Sometimes when I read a book, I get infatuated with a character or person in the story and I can't stop thinking or talking about him or her. Last fall when I read The Making of a Chef, Thomas Keller became the object of my obsession. Back then it was, "Thomas Keller does..." and "Did you know that Thomas Keller..." non-stop.

Now it's Seabiscuit, or The Biscuit. Did you know most horses sleep standing up? But not The Biscuit -- he liked to bed down in a big ol' pile of hay. And The Biscuit liked to eat the hay even though he'd already had dinner. And The Biscuit had funny front legs that didn't straighten quite right so people thought he couldn't run fast. And did you know that The Biscuit...

Mail is back

Forgot to mention: mail is back. If you sent something on Friday, you might want to resend to make sure I got it.

Opus Creative Commons

Opus: "Opus seeks to build a creative commons with a community of media practitioners, artists, authors and the public from all over the world. Here people can present their own work and make it open for transformation, besides intervening and transforming the work of others by bringing in new materials, practices and insights. The Discussion forums are there to open out the works to comments and reflections. Opus follows the same rules as those that operate in all free software communities - i.e. the freedom to view, to download, to modify and to redistribute. The source(code), in this case the video, image, sound or text, is free to use, to edit and to redistribute."

Subway update

For those that need closure on the NYC subway anecdote: I got off at the next stop and waited. Several trains passed through the station, and eventually (though I'm sure it wasn't more than ten minutes or so) my mom and brother stepped out of one. I think my mom was a little surprised to see me; she said she assumed I'd just take the train all the way to my aunt's and meet them there. Funny thing is, I don't even remember being scared at all. Just annoyed that my mom and brother were such slow runners.

Penn Station Bathroom Memories

My post about the Bryant Park bathroom brought an email response from my aunt, who used to live in NYC. She writes,

Your comments brought this incredibly vivid memory sweeping back to me. You and your mother had come to visit me on the train, and I was picking you up at Penn Station. You had to go to the bathroom, and much to my dismay, we went into the public restroom in Penn Station. For me, it was like a scene out of the dark ages- dark shapes of women lined the sides kind of moaning and definitely stinking. You were quick and we got out alive.

It's funny to hear that memory since, though I remember a lot from those magical trips to NY to visit my aunt, I don't recall that bathroom visit. It must not have been *that* bad if I don't even remember it. I do remember one time when my mom, brother and I ran for the subway but only I made it, and the door closed behind me, catching my bag in the middle. The door re-opened quickly, just enough time for me to pull my bag in. I still remember the look of horror on my mother's face as the train pulled away from the station with her nine year old daughter on board (who had no money, no ID, and no idea where her aunt's apartment was, aside from "the upper west side").

But my favorite 1980's NYC memory is buying Nintendo Game & Watch handhelds from one of the zillions of electronics stores all over Manhattan. Parachute (close-up of box) was the first we got and between my brother, my mom and I, there was always a fight over who got to play and who held the high score. Another memory is of the first time I had sushi, but that one's not nearly as good. Probably more akin to the yuck of the bathroom at Penn Station.

Guest DaveNet

Dave asked me if he could run my last megnut column on blogging as a DaveNet piece the other day. I happily assented and O'Reilly did as well. It will be interesting to see what different pieces the column will reach through this channel. I'm sure there will be some fresh perspectives and feedback because of it. And that's exactly why I agreed to let him run it.

Air Force One at Banff

air force one and angel force one on the tarmac at calgary international airport, june 27, 2002

My trip to Banff overlapped with the G8 summit in Kananaskis so during my travels I was treated to stronger security, travel delays as the roads closed for motorcades to path through, and the amazing sight of Air Force One and Angel Force One (I always thought it was called 'Air Force Two' but they made an announcement and called it Angel Force One) sitting on the tarmac right beyond our gate. We actually taxied right past them both. It's weird to see something like that in real life after getting so much exposure via TV and the movies. It took a moment for it to actually sink in and realize what I was looking at.

Banff was great -- a beautiful location and incredible people, I only wish I could have stayed longer. But I'm exhausted, more tired than I've been after a conference in a long time. I've been going a million miles an hour for months now and all I want to do is sleep, for days. Write-ups about what I learned will have to wait until I can think clearly again. For now, I am happy to just be quiet.

All quiet on the blogging front

Who would have thought when I said I'd be quiet that I'd be quiet for so long? Certainly not me. I think this is the longest I've ever gone without posting here. First I went to Boston, and I expected to post from there but strangely found I had nothing to say. Then I returned home, and still had nothing much to say. Then the server that hosts this site was replaced. At that point I found I had a lot to say, but I couldn't. So now after nearly 48 hours of waiting, it's back up and I can post. Part of the slow-down was Movable Type related since I'm now using that to publish this site (so that had to be migrated to the new server as well). Anyway, enough excuses.

The Strokes Rock

I've been enjoying listening to The Strokes' Is This It a lot lately. I know I'm late to the game on this one, but it's amazingly catchy and I find myself humming along as I work. I wish I were more on top of music these days but somehow (maybe this is a sign of getting old?) I'm not. I'm not in the know at all. In fact, I first heard about The Strokes from the New Yorker. I guess these are things that happen when one turns 30. I'd expected more aches and pains, but I suspect this is par for the course.

Searching for a new bank

I'm looking for recommendations for a new bank that offers free or cheap online access via Quicken and the Web, and won't make me pay a ton of fees, and won't ding me for local ATM transactions at other machines (though this is lower priority). I currently use Wells Fargo. And I'm crazy for Quicken and always run reports on how I'm spending my money. It turns out I've spent $136.65 in bank fees in the past SIX months with Wells Fargo. Give me a break! 78% of that is online bill pay service fees and monthly service fees. So I'm looking to reduce this. If you've got a good bank to recommend, please do so using the comments. Yes, finally I've implemented comments. Improvements to follow.

Business is business

I've got a new motto, courtesy of Mike, "Business is business, regardless of dogs."

The Road to Perdition

I saw Road to Perdition last night and it was almost good, by which I mean in many ways it was very good compared to the usual Hollywood dreck but it misses the mark slightly. It was great to see Paul Newman in a movie and he's still as good as ever, though I wish he'd had a role where he could smile more. There's nothing like a Paul Newman smile to make me melt. Tom Hanks was good but I just have Hanks burn-out and at this point Tom Hanks "the person" seems to transcend any character he plays. Jude Law was excellent -- very creepy. Law is really good at changing his looks to become the character. Who would have thought he could look so unattractive? All in all, I recommend it, but it's no Godfather. Unless of course, you're talking about Godfather III. Then it's close.

Books by the Bay

If you're looking for something to do in the Bay Area tomorrow, this Books By the Bay, "A Celebration in Independent Bookselling" looks like it could be fun. It's at Yerba Buena Gardens in downtown San Francisco and it's free! What more could you ask for on a summery Saturday? (I supose you could ask that it not be foggy and cold, but that may be asking too much around here.)

Jury Duty

All week I've been on-call for jury duty, which in San Francisco means you need to keep checking their web site every night after 6 PM to see if you need to go to the courthouse the next morning. Luckily my number never came up, so I escaped having to go in and wait for hours until they called my name. The sad part is, I'd actually like to serve on a jury, especially if the trial were only a few days. Perhaps another time it will work out.

Siamese kittens

This photo of six Siamese kittens (not Siamese as in the breed, Siamese as in the twins, you know, conjoined...) makes me so sad. I just love kittens and seeing them all stuck together this morning almost made me cry. If there were a way to keep kittens from turning into cats, I'd have about a million of them. Easily.

French or Foe

French or Foe by Polly PlattAnother enjoyable read was French or Foe?: Getting the Most Out of Visiting, Living and Working in France by Polly Platt. This book provides valuable advice on French culture and customs and offers recommendations on how to navigate their intricacies. As I read it, I was struck by how much many modes of interaction reminded me of my time spent in Mexico. There must be a Latin cultural connection that I hadn't realized (for example: kissing, hand shaking, cutting in line and waiting at stores, the surprising unavailability of staple items in the store, etc.) Reading it reminded me of all that's exciting about living abroad: you never know what to expect next and everything is always more of an adventure than you planned it to be. The result is that small things like getting keys made successfully, or flagging down the gas truck, can feel like giant victories. And that always made me really happy.

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