Megnut

Archive for October 2002

Gold Box Goodies

Finally! My Amazon Gold Box offered me two things I would actually buy, if I didn't already own them: an Apple Airport base station and a KitchenAid stand mixer. I have high hopes for tomorrow.

I've always been an easterner

I stumbled across this passage the other night (while still reading Crossing to Safety), "I was always a westerner. New England was a rainy interlude." And it struck me that my situation is the opposite: I've always been an easterner. San Francisco was a foggy interlude. That is, I've always known I would leave California, from the moment I arrived. It's never felt like home to me, but rather some place temporary. More of a "Not New England" than an actual place of its own. California's been a cross-cultural exchange, a (5 1/2) year(s) abroad, an experiment, and the fulfillment of a childhood dream to live near the beach with palm trees and surfers.

Though I am captivated by the landscape and the idea of the American West, and by the concept of westerness, I'm eastern to the core. Even if I stayed here the rest of my life, I'm not sure California would ever really feel like my home nor would Californians ever feel like my people. And I'll never know.

In one month, I'm saying good-bye to San Francisco and heading back to the east coast. First I will spend a month in Paris and then I will be settling in New York City. No, I've never lived in New York City. No, I'm not moving to Brooklyn, lovely and cheap(er) though it may be. And yes, I'm out-of-my-mind ecstatic about the move, about being closer to my family in New England, about having seasons (hot summer! cold winter! real fall! and spring.), about learning a new city and new friends, and about starting a great new chunk of my life and sharing it with someone I love.

Danger Hiptop is out

The T-Mobile Sidekick device that I wrote about a while back is apparently now available. Here's a review from the SF Gate. I love that it has AIM integrated -- that alone makes me want it. But the fact that it's not so hot as a phone is a major drawback. I long ago decided I wasn't interested in carrying more than one electronic device (in addition to my computer). [via BoingBoing]

Cooper's 14 Principles of Polite Applications

An article from Spring 2000 (actually an excerpt from Cooper's wonderful book I think everyone should read, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum) by Alan Cooper on The 14 Principles of Polite Apps (applications, for you non-software folks out there). Two of my favorites are "Polite Software Has Common Sense" and "Polite Software Is Self-Confident." Speaking as an application designer and programmer, those two are really hard to actually implement, especially when an application hasn't been planned as well as it could (or should) have been. It's good to revisit this list, the concepts are important to keep in mind. [via Matt Webb]

5 Things I'll miss about San Francisco

1. Running in Golden Gate Park

2. Bay Area-based friends

3. Vistas: sheer cliffs dropping to the ocean and fog rolling over mountains in white swirling waves and giant trees so big you can't believe they're really alive.

4. Amazing restaurants at great prices

5. Wonderful produce year-round

5 Things I'm looking forward to back east/in New York

1. Bagels. Real bagels.

2. Dry leaves blowing along the street in late fall. Then snow!

3. Ocean you can swim in without a wet suit.

4. Only 188 miles from New York City to my grandparents' house.

5. Scallops.

Blogger Is A Harsh Mistress

This really isn't funny on some levels at all, and it makes me sad. And yet, it's a thing of beauty: Blogger Is A Harsh Mistress.

Where do stories go?

Back in early 2001 we experienced a terrible energy crisis in California -- rolling blackouts, outrageous electrical bills, and the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric. An excellent episode of Frontline, Blackout examined the issues and included interviews with many folks at Enron, including Ken Lay. At the time of the crisis, I recall the White House refused to provide any federal support, saying it was California's problem and responsibility (a 21st-century 'state's rights' I suppose).

Jump ahead to the present day. Enron CFO Andrew Fastow has been arrested by the FBI on variety of charges, including, "fraud, money laundering and conspiring to inflate the company's profits and enrich himself at the company's expense." Vice President Dick Cheney continues to refuse to turn over records to the General Accounting Office regarding the development of the administration's energy policy last year (whose task force met with Enron executives six times).

When the Enron news first broke, I thought for sure there'd be big discussions here in California, at least as it related to the energy debacle. But there was nothing. Then I thought, "Shrewd, they're waiting until closer to the election, when they'll pull out the big guns." But elections are little more than a month away, and I'm not hearing anything. Is there no story here? Or are we waiting until it all comes out in the Enron trials? And where's the outrage -- not only did Enron employees lose their savings when their stock tanked, millions of Californians and California businesses paid exorbitant prices for electricity while energy company fat cats made millions. These fat cats also broke the law and had close (and secret) contact and influence with the highest ranking members of our executive branch. Something seems fishy to me. So where's the story? Am I missing something? Or am I looking for conspiracy where none exists?

It's Funny Because It's True

Two Onion articles this week are so spot-on, they almost read like honest news items. First, Bush Seeks Support For 'US Does Whatever It Wants' Plan. Choice quote: "Despite repeated American efforts to change the situation, Saddam Hussein defiantly continues his longtime policy of being the president of Iraq," Bush said. "The time has come for this man to step down, because we want him to." The brilliance continues with RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music. "It's criminal," RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. "Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song." God Bless the Onion.

Software Doesn't Steal Part II

Ev responded to my comments from the other day about whether applications can be designed to steal. Jason's tried to encourage a discussion about the topic, asking how an application would function if it were designed to steal. Some interesting discussion follows.

Glitterati vs. Geeks

Steven Levy's got a great piece in this week's Newsweek, Glitterati vs. Geeks. It's a good primer on the digital rights battlefield and what Lessig et al are fighting for with Eldred v. Ashcroft. If you're wondering what the big deal is, Levy's article is a great place to start.

Aaron Swartz on the Supreme Court, DC, and Lessig

Aaron Swartz has a wonderful write-up of his experience listening to the oral arguments at the Supreme Court for Eldred v. Ashcroft. One thing that struck me in his write-up though was this passage,

One of the female justices interrupted and pressed him on the First Amendment issues.

Based on other write-ups I've read, I believe it was Justice O'Connor who interrupted Lessig. I found it kind of amazing that Aaron didn't recognize her. I mean, aside from the fact that there are only two women on the Supreme Court at all, O'Connor was the first woman to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court.

I don't mean this as any slight on Aaron whatsoever, it just struck me as odd for someone not to know her name. And made me feel a bit old too -- I remember when O'Connor was nominated and thinking it was one of the coolest things in the world: a woman on the Supreme Court! But that was all before Aaron was born. I'm really envious he was able to attend such an amazing event.

Head's Up: Head's down

Not that I've been particularly consistent these days with my postings here anyway, but I suspect I will be even less so in the coming weeks. It's getting down to the wire for our departure and there's much to do. I'm making a wedding cake this week for dear friends (picture to follow for sure, if it all turns out OK). Then I'm going to be celebrating another wedding with family on the east coast, then trodding the streets of NYC looking for housing, then packing, then moving, etc. etc. If you happen to live in NYC and you have good apartment-hunting tips that you'd be willing to share, please send them my way.

In the meantime, check out Jason's post about the Eldred vs. Ashcroft oral arguments. Also pb's post about Senator Byrd's speeches in Washington regarding a potential war with Iraq. I've been thinking a lot about this one and wish I had some time to write about it. And finally, for no particular reason except people sometimes like to know this, I'm re-reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. So very good. It tempts me to do nothing but read all day.

Danger HipTop is Live!

Oh, and I forgot: the Danger hiptop from T-Mobile is live. The buzz is really beginning. Alas, I'm not goint to buy one until I return from France. No use in getting one that will sit unused for a month. Plus I want a NY number. Must be patient. Want one right now!

More on Eldred v Ashcroft

Ernest Miller writes in with several points of clarification regarding yesterday's post. Apparently it was Justice Ginsberg who was questioning Lessig's First Amendment argument. He was in attendence, Yale Law School LawMeme notes here. Also he points out something I didn't know. He says,

Also, I don't know where Aaron was sitting. Not all of the seats have a clear view of the Justices. Reporters always complain that they can only see one or two of the justices from where they sit. So, it is entirely possible that Aaron only heard the voice and couldn't see the justices.

Makes total sense. Another reader points out that a Former Solicitor General twice called one female justice by the other's name. So I guess getting them mixed up is more common than one would think.

megnut in Shift

There's a short interview with me over at Shift where I talk about, you guessed it, weblogging. I talked to the writer a while ago, so hopefully everything I said is still relevant (if it ever was to begin with).

Observation #82

Observation #82 in an infrequent series: People will take anything that you give away for free. Except free paint. No one seems to want free paint.

Whole-Wheat Rigatoni with Butternut Squash and Beet Greens

Now's the season to start cooking Whole-Wheat Rigatoni with Butternut Squash and Beet Greens. I was thinking of this recipe last night as I made a pumpkin gratin (yum!) and realizing how much I like to cook with fall ingredients. I also roasted a beet and grated it atop some greens I dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette to top off the fall/winter feel of the meal.

The End of the West

There's an interesting article in this month's Atlantic by Charles Kupchan, The End of the West. The premise is that, "[t]he next clash of civilizations will not be between the West and the rest but between the United States and Europe--and Americans remain largely oblivious" Kupchan posits that the USA/EU similarities are superficial and that fundamentally the two superpowers (if one can call the EU a superpower at this point) hold quite different values and belief systems. His analogy for the power-shift and rivalry? Rome and Constantinople and the fate of the Roman Empire after its division into eastern and western halves. Something interesting to think about, especially next month when I'm in Paris experiencing the EU life first-hand.

Cake baking tips

Do you bake cakes a lot? Hate to grease and flour those cake pans? Then do I have the recommendation for you. There's this amazing product called Baker's Joy (it's no misnomer) that's a simple spray, a la Pam, but with flour included. I was skeptical but I used it last week when I baked a wedding cake (three 12"x2", two 9"x2", and two 6"x"2" batches). It worked perfectly! Took less than five seconds to coat an entire pan and the cakes flipped out perfectly when done. Not one bit stuck inside. Two thumbs up. If I had any more thumbs, it would get a higher rating.

Tip two: Magi-Cake strips. You soak these puppies in water then wrap them around the outside of the cake pans. They prevent the outside of your cake from cooking too quickly (causing it to rise unevenly) and the result is a perfectly level cake. My cakes, after coming out of the pans perfectly, were as flat as boards. No messy leveling required!

If you bake at all, I highly recommend both of these products. I found the Baker's Joy at my local Andronico's and the Magi-Cake strips are available at Sur La Table.

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