Megnut

Red Sox and emotion

Fellow NY resident -- but like me, of solid New England stock -- Lockhart Steele has a great post on the Red Sox, baseball, and The Business of Emotion. Talking about the likely trades of Sox Manny Ramierez and Nomar Garciaparra, Lock asks, "is the core of sports fandom rooting for favorite players, or the team?"

For my own part, it's team first. I'll always be a Sox fan. When one of my teams trades a player I'm not crazy about (e.g. Celtics unloading lazy Antoine Walker to the Mavs), I'm extra pleased with the team. And I have to say, I wouldn't be too sad to see Ramierez traded for A-Rod. But Nomar? Oy, now that's a tough one, because I really like Nomar. Then my thinking gets all player-centric and I wonder, couldn't he just play third instead?

Found France

I was doing a little cleaning on my computer and I came across some restaurant reviews I wrote when I was in Paris in November 2002. In case you'll be heading over there sometime soon, I repost them for you. And for myself, since they bring back such nice memories for me. Apparently it's "Reminisces and Nostalgia" week at megnut.

Les 3
3, rue Saint Croix de la Bretonnerie (Marais)
Paris, 75004

Another amazing dinner at Les 3 around the corner from our house. This place was recommended by Gil, who's a chef and whose apartment we're renting. He was not wrong about this place. More au current than Le Colimaçon and similar to something one would find in San Francisco, the food was spectacular. I started with a cream of chestnut soup, accompanied by a slice of fois gras on toast (YUM!) and then had rouget in a sauce of some sort and a side of potatoes gratinee. Wow. So good....chestnuts are my new favorite thing. I'm going to buy a little bag of roasted ones to try out soon from the guys that sell them on the corner. Was going to today in the cold rain but forgot. Will report on how they taste soon. Expect most reports from France to be about food and nothing else. Musee d'Orsay was good, but you would have expected that.

Ginette de la Côte d'Azur
101, rue Caulaincourt (Montmartre)
75018, Paris

Very nice lunch in a stylish café in Montmartre. While the entrees (English entrees) were fairly expensive, and much more than we wanted to spend for lunch, the salads and omelettes were priced more reasonably and were delicious. I had an omelette provençcal which was filled with wonderful cooked veggies like red peppers, eggplant, and zucchini. It was served with some nice red leaf lettuce dressed lightly in a simple vinaigrette. A glass of red wine bouch du Rhône accompanied. 21.30 euros for two.

The reason I write megnut

Earlier today, I happened upon old posts (never published) about Parisian restaurants. I decide to publish them, for no reason. My friend Alaina reads them and thinks, "Meg will like this Parisian food weblog. I will email it to her." She does. I read the email and then load up Chocolate & Zucchini in my browser. I am instantly in love, even before I see the entry for Oeuf Cocotte. I am now anxiously awaiting the time to read all the archives, and even more anxiously awaiting my (currently unscheduled) return to Paris. I've got a serious Paris jones. I've got a serious Chocolate & Zucchini crush.

Update!! Chocolate & Zucchini author Clotilde is a software engineer! But wants to leave it all behind for a cooking a career. She's my French twin!

From the archive

While poking around looking at other stuff, I stumbled across these old photos from the Pyra webcam back in the day. You can see pb and Matt Haughey on what was apparently Matt's first day at Pyra. Looks like he didn't get much work done. I like finding these remnants of that time.

More on XHTML

Following yesterday's post about XHTML validation and the script tag (which I assumed to be a browser problem, not a code problem) I got an email from megnut reader Maurice saying,

Script element should always have an end tag and really can't be considered a singular or "empty" type tag like, say, the Image tag or something. I guess it must be a minor glitch in the validator or something.

Since that didn't sound right to me, I decided to go to the source: XHTML 1.0 The Extensible HyperText Markup Language, Section 4.3: For non-empty elements, end tags are required. It says,

4.3. In SGML-based HTML 4 certain elements were permitted to omit the end tag; with the elements that followed implying closure. XML does not allow end tags to be omitted. All elements other than those declared in the DTD as EMPTY must have an end tag. Elements that are declared in the DTD as EMPTY can have an end tag or can use empty element shorthand

So I examine the DTD and see that <script> does not contain EMPTY, which would support Maurice's assertions that the code was in fact, not valid, and there was a glitch in the validator. But then I looked at the definition for <p> and it doesn't contain EMPTY either. But you can use <p /> instead of <p></p>. Or at least, I thought you could. Plus it seems weird since a <script> in reality can be empty, like in my example when it's linked to an external file. So why's the DTD saying it can't be? Anyone actually understand what's going on here?

Humor alert

The other day, I wrote a post saying weblogs are ruining Google. I hate to do this, I hate to explain a joke, but it seems there's been too much confusion. No, weblogs are not ruining Google. I was kidding because, see, this is what people do: they search for something on Google, a weblog is one of top responses, and then they piss and moan about weblogs ruining Google, etc. Do I need to resort to writing "J/K" next to all silly posts?

The other funny thing -- at least to me -- is that both times I used the expression "text wrap" in my query, rather than the more common "word wrap." So it extra made sense that Google would return my post to me. And funnier still was the fact that I'd forgotten I'd already looked for a text wrap plugin for Eclipse months ago. So you see the levels of humor here? Did you ever suspect megnut posts had so much depth to them?

XHTML and the script tag

So for some odd reason, my alpha Kinja design that was visible in IE, Camino, Firebird, and Safari on IE and Mac suddenly stopped rendering on IE/Mac, IE/Windows, and Safari/Mac (didn't test the others, was too busy freaking out). I tried everything I could think of, validated the code (clean XHMTL 1.0 Strict), validated the CSS, had some friends take a look, and nothing. "View source" showed code, but nothing appeared on screen. Finally, after commenting out code line by line, I nailed it. In my header, I had:

<script src="http://megnut.com/functions.js" type="text/javascript" />

While the validator liked this, and Camino had no problem, the other browers barfed big time and treated it as an unclosed tag, rendering nothing more. A quick change to:

<script src="http://megnut.com/functions.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

and all is right with the world again. I write this because I'm sure I'll have this problem again, and then Google will help me (hi idiot Meg from the future making the same mistakes again!) In the meantime, it may help you.

Snow running success!

Just like the Postal Service, neither wind nor snow stopped me, David, and Alaina from running this morning's Hot Chocolate 15k. Designated a "fun run" by the NY Road Runners, it wasn't timed, and the distance was reduced to 6 miles. But it was fun. Not only are we crazy enough to run in a blizzard, David was crazy enough to moblog the event!

Our time? 1:04.38, not too shabby with all the snow on the ground and wind in the air. And at that speed, there was lot of opportunity for gabbing along the course. And of course, our fearless supporters Anil and Jason were there to cheer us along. Meanwhile, unless it stopped snowing while I was sleeping (which I doubt), it's been snowing since ~11AM yesterday, which means we're into our 30th hour of snow! But I think I'm done being out and about in it. From now on it's all BB&B -- baths (hot), bed, and books.

Update: one final photo snapped by Anil that I call Triumph!, aka Us at the finish.

Let it snow let it snow, er wait

snow!6 - 11 inches of snow is forecast for New York City in the next three days. I can see snow already falling outside my window here at work, and this is what's predicted for tomorrow:

Snow along with gusty winds at times. Cold. Temps nearly steady in the low 30s. Winds NNE at 20 to 30 mph. Snow accumulating 4 to 7 inches.

Yikes! Tomorrow morning is my NYRR Hot Chocolate 15K, which I'm really looking forward to. Hopefully it won't be too snowy to run, and then after it's over, I can come home and get in my cozy bed and read all afternoon as it snows heavily outside.

Update: totally weird. Exactly a year ago it was snowing as well, and I was excited and posting about it. And a year ago, Gina posted a picture of snow outside her window at work. It's starting to look like that outside our window here at work, a year later. Does this simultaneous anniversary snowstorm mean that we'll have another snowy winter? Or are we experiencing some strange Groundhog Day (the movie, not the Day) experience?

Weblogs *are* ruining Google

Doing some stuff in Eclipse this afternoon I thought, "I'd really like a text wrap plugin for Eclipse" so I go to Google and type in "Eclipse plugin text wrap" and this megnut post -- of me wishing for a text wrap plugin -- is the first result. Doh!

Sendmail for Dummies

I just installed this neato Sendmail Enabler for OS X (but not Panther, for Panther you need Postfix Enabler) to fix some mail problems I was having. This enabler is a one-click app to launch and configure sendmail. So far, it's great and easy.

It's flu time

With the temperature suddenly 21° (with a 9° wind chill) in New York City, those who haven't succumbed yet to the flu could well be on the verge, including me. Here's some good information from the CDC, Influenza: The Disease. Of course, the most troubling bit was this, "A person can spread the flu starting one day before he or she feels sick." It might be too late for us all!

Happy December 1st

I had a nice Thanksgiving message written and then my browser crashed right before I had to head off for my vacation. So hopefully Thanksgiving went well for you and yours, and now Happy December 1st! That exclamation point is rather forced, I'm afraid to admit. Where has the year gone? And how is it winter all of the sudden and time for Christmas? Oy. That's really about all I've got to say. Oy.

Race results!

Meg running Race to DeliverI did it! Yesterday was a beautiful day for running, clean and not too hot and not too cold. I braved the crowded course, avoided collisions as I passed (and alas, was passed by) runners, and slogged up hills. Yes, hills. Sadly, my training had neglected hills and it hadn't occurred to me that there would be hills (these hills are really much more noticeable when you're running) in Central Park, but there were. So the race was a little harder than I'd anticipated and I couldn't push myself as much as I'd planned. But I made it, and I finished in under 40 minutes, which was my goal. For some reason, the race results still aren't up on the NYRR site. When they are, I'll post my official time. Ok, my net time was 37:39 and my pace 9:24/mile. Not the best, not the worst (especially with those hills!) and there's lots of room for improvement. Thanks, once again, to everyone who contributed. It was a great day, a great race, and we raised over $975,000 to provide meals to people living with AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses.

Here's a full-size photo of me [54 KB] in racing action, thanks to Jason who picked me out of the crowd by some miracle.

In less than two weeks, I'm going to run the NYRR Hot Chocolate 15K, 9.3 miles in Central Park. This time though there's no fund raising involved. This time it's just for the free hot chocolate at the end!

48 hours to go!

Less than 48 hours until the Race to Deliver in Central Park. We're at $1180 in donations, which is amazing. If you were thinking about donating and still haven't, you've still got time. $1200 is such a nice round number. :) I'm going to pick up my race number this afternoon. I had my final training run this morning (a very light and slow 2 miles) and I'm ready! Now I just need two good nights of sleep and I'll be burning up the course through Central Park, by which of course I mean I hope I can survive it running ten-minute miles.

Update: Yippee! $1200! Megnut readers #1! Megnut readers #1!

Update on the update: $1260!!!

Warmed with Jamie and chicken

David Loftus for The New York TimesAmander Hesser's The Mediterranean Sun Warms Rainy London is perfect for a rainy New York day as well. Hesser chats with the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver, while he cooks Braised Ligurian Chicken.

"What I found quite interesting with this dish, being English," Mr. Oliver said, "is that when you eat this, it's quite delicately flavored. It's perfumed with the wine and the rosemary. You get this kind of meaty kind of saltiness from the olives...[w]hen you cook olives whole like this, it's almost like an anchovy. The salt comes out of the olives, and the olive becomes more like a vegetable. And the salt from the olive flavors the chicken really wonderfully."

There's also a special "interactive feature" with Hesser and Oliver, but I haven't watched it yet.

Virtual Book Tour continues

The Virtual Book Tour stopped at Christine Selleck's Big Pink Cookie yesterday and Christine interviewed author Ethan Watters. Today the Tour returns to New York City with a stop in Brooklyn at Josh Greenberg's Epistemographer. Josh has a review of the book and then a personal reflection on what he got out of the book and his current tribeless state. I encourage you to check out the other sites participating in the VBT so that you can experience some other points of view; both of these folks enjoyed the book more than I did and have some good insights. Then, get your passports ready, tomorrow the VBT heads north to Canada for a stop at James McNally's Consolation Champs.

Fundraising and training update

Both fundraising and training continue for the Race to Deliver as the big day draws near. I ran 5 miles over the weekend, have added in some speed work, and slogged 3.5 miles this morning in the rain. Seeing that we're nearly to my goal this morning helped me feel less soggy. Let's see if we can make it to $1000 by the end of today!

I need 7 people to donate $5 today.

That's a little more than a fancy cup of coffee, and less than a trip to the movies. All for a good cause, and to motivate me to get up at 6:30 AM tomorrow morning and run a bunch of 200m sprints. If you haven't donated yet, please consider it. And for those that have thank you thank you thank you.

Update: Wowzers! That was fast. Like five minutes and we're already at $1020. I won't hound you anymore, but of course, if you still would like to contribute, I encourage you. I'm curious to see how far past $1k we can go. Woo hoo!!

Virtual Book Tour: Urban Tribes

Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and CommitmentWhen Kevin Smokler asked me to participate in the Virtual Book Tour for Ethan Watters' new book, Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and Commitment, I said yes. Always one to judge a book by its cover (or title), Urban Tribes sounded intriguing, especially when I read the blurb on the back:

The current generation of young Americans is waiting longer than ever to get married. Urban Tribes tells you why. And by the way, it's good news.

As a thirty-something unmarried American, I was looking forward to hearing the good news! But as I read, I found myself questioning the author's assertions rather than agreeing. Watters' thesis is that young Americans are spending the increasingly longer time between college and marriage in tight knit groups of friends he calls urban tribes. These tribes act as surrogate families and give one the space and encouragement to find oneself, encouraging all sorts of things, from the home brewing of beer to the undertaking of massive art projects. In theory, it sounded great, and seemed to "prove" that many folks aren't the slackers they're assumed to be.

Alas, the people I read about didn't sound like many people I knew. Frankly, many of them sounded annoying, and I found myself wanting to say things like, "Oh grow up!" and "Don't listen to everything your friends tell you!" It all sounded, well, so high-schoolish. And the word that kept coming to mind for me was not tribe but clique. For example, in Chapter 8, "Love Versus The Tribe," Watters quotes messages he received from people who wrote to describe their tribes:

"This tribe has made me realize that I can be happy living my life my way," wrote Kari, twenty-six, from Pittsburgh. "My tribe will not let me waste time on a loser." In very similar language, Rebecca, also twenty-six, from Dallas wrote, "The group has helped my romantic life because it has strengthened my self-esteem. I will not settle for anything less than true love and passion with complete respect. If it hadn't been for the tribe I may have married the wrong person for the wrong reasons." (p 184)

Certainly there's something to be said for having friends who help you grow up and figure out who you are. And I agree with Watters' premise that for our generation this happens during our twenties, and with lots of help from our friends. But reading the above passage made me wonder if tribe members are forsaking their individual identities for that of the tribe's, and if that weren't perhaps detrimental to the process of finding one's self. In Watters' tribe world, one's tribe is one's family until romance strikes, at which point (like Watters himself) you move from your tribe into marriage. Writing about his own transition, Watters says,

I was in the process of changing my definition of "us" from meaning "the group" to meaning "Rebecca and Me." (p 202)

This transition is understandable and necessary, but there seemed to be little examination of the "I" without the context of the group, which I found disappointing. At many points in Urban Tribes, Watters appears tantalizingly close to examining some really interesting concepts, e.g. how do young Americans balance their needs as individuals within the dynamic of their larger group, or groups? What about people who don't follow his nice clean pattern of tribe to marriage?

Nearly everyone I know is coupled up, many live with partners, but very few are married. This doesn't fit with Watters thesis that we're creating tribes (in fact I couldn't find a single person who considered him or herself part of a tribe), but certainly is evidence that our generation is playing by different rules. What effect is that having on us? I know many women, myself included, who are finding the nebulous world of living-together-but-not-married difficult and confusing. The fuzzy roles and expectations are stressful, but there was no examination of this, by my reckoning, rampant phenomenon.

Watters also talks of our waiting to marry as part of our search for our "soul mates" but doesn't examine the inherent risks associated with, or even feasibility of, such perfectionism. After all, the tribe demonstrates that one's social needs can be met by a variety of different people. Why must those needs all be met by one person once one marries?

It's not fair to blame Watters for not writing the book I wanted -- and expected -- to read, but I can't help but be disappointed with the book he's written. Certainly there are interesting things going on with our generation, but I'm not convinced Urban Tribes has fully uncovered what they are.

For some futher thoughts, Peter Merholz wrote a review back in September. I totally relate to his frustration with that lack of actual data Watters uses to support his assertions, but since Peter already covered it, I won't write about it here again.

Remembering Betsy

Last night I got together with a wonderful old friend I hadn't seen in nearly ten years. During our discussion, she mentioned a woman with whom we had both attended summer camp had died. It's always such odd news to hear of the death of someone you haven't thought about or seen in many many years. Suddenly and unexpectedly, you miss them.

Today as I was running, my thoughts turned to Betsy and my memories of her: shockingly long bright red hair, her nose ring (which really seemed like something odd and amazing when I was a twelve-year-old girl), and her incredible mountaineering and canoeing skills. I strained to keep running against a brutally cold and strong wind along the Hudson River, but I never thought of stopping, or just turning to go back home, because I had a goal and I wouldn't give up. With my thoughts on Betsy, I realized that's not how I used to be.

In 1984, I had been away at summer camp for nearly four weeks, and it was Saturday morning of parents' weekend. I was at the canoeing department, working on my landings, and anxiously awaiting my parents' arrival. My tandem landings (where you paddle your canoe at an angle towards the dock, then at the last minute, turn it so you end up "parked" along side) were all that I needed to complete my Boatswain, the first rank given by the canoeing department to recognize a camper's canoeing skills. I had been working on it every day since camp began.

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