Remembering the French Laundry

Ages ago, I began the process of moving all my entries into a new version of Movable Type, a process I never completed. There are still about seven months of entries from 2002 that never made the transition, and sit only on my hard drive. One of those entries was my tale of eating dinner at the French Laundry, and many people have emailed asking why they can't find it on my site.

Well I'm happy to say I've reposted it: It's All About Finesse. All the rest of the stuff is still missing, but for all those who've asked for it, and for myself too, I've gotten it back online. I think it's one of my favorite megnut posts of all time. Every time I re-read it, it brings that magical evening rushing back. Hard to believe it was almost three years ago!

Has my Keller devotion waned in that time, you ask? Hardly! I got the Bouchon cookbook for Christmas and have already tried several of the recipes. And not only that, but I've been practicing for a return to one of Mr. Keller's kitchens by eating as much yummy food as possible, including a recent superb outing to Gramercy Tavern in New York City. My hope is to visit Per Se, Thomas' New York City outpost, later this year. Belly — and wallet — beware!

The persistence of almost nothing

There are very few things in this world that don't change, or that you can count on being the same upon returning after a long absence. I can count on one hand the places I still frequent that were regular visits for me as a child in the 70s and a 80s: my grandparents' house in western Massachusetts; our summer home on Nantucket; and again this winter, Mad River Glen, a ski area in Vermont. My grandparents home has a new back staircase and different furniture. Nantucket has changed quite profoundly: from our deck you now look upon a house where there used to be woods. But after a long hiatus, I returned earlier this winter to Mad River Glen — a ski area where I began skiing with my family as a very little girl and frequented every weekend for many winters while in high school — to discover that it hadn't changed a bit.

Ok, well the lodge at the base was painted a slightly different color, and they now allow you to ski in the trees whereas before we had to do it surreptitiously, but those are minor changes. Fundamentally the mountain remains the same: the same Single Chair, the same trails, the same woman directing you in the small icy parking lot where to cram your car on a busy Saturday, the same delicious burgers from the grill at lunch. In a day and age when progress is a given, when newer is nearly always seen as better, the consistency is not only refreshing, it's comforting as well.

I've spent as many days as possible this winter reacquainting myself with the mountain, rediscovering trails and cut-offs I'd long forgotten. And it's as delicious as reuniting with an old dear friend you haven't seen in ages, only to discover you've just as much in common as you did fifteen years ago. Driving up Route 17, with the mountain off in the distance, the Catamount bright and mogully in the early morning light, "Here Comes the Sun" playing on my iPod (that's progress: it use to play from my Abbey Road cassette!) I feel all the excitement I did as a fifteen-year-old heading up for a Saturday of fun.

Traditions are to be treasured, and continuity cherished. I'm so happy to have reconnected with my mountain friend again, and look forward to my final weekend of skiing for this season. It's all over too soon. It will be hard to wait until December to hang out again!

The very long half-marathon

Saturday morning I ran the Brooklyn Half-Marathon, a supposed final "tune-up" before the Paris Marathon which looms before me on April 10th. Since I've been skiing a lot more than I should be, and running a lot less (with the slim hope that all the skiing will be close enough to running to "count"), I'd lowered my goal for Paris from Sub 4:30 Marathon to Just Finish and Have Fun. Judging by my performance on Saturday, Just Finish will be a challenge, and Have Fun will be unachievable.

Guh! Who would have thought 13.1 miles could be sooooo looooong? Perhaps it was because I skied for nearly seven straight days, then headed to San Diego where I barely got any rest and conferenced up a storm, then flew the red-eye back to NY and two nights before the race had only 4 hours sleep? Perhaps it's because I just haven't done the work. Either way, my legs felt like lead, and I had to coax them through the flats of Brooklyn and then plead with them through the rolling hills of Prospect Park. Final result? 2:18:52. I'm really beginning to dread Paris.

Dwindling Etech links

As you can see by the number of links posted over the course of three days, Etech kicked my butt and exhaustion took hold. By the end just being able to follow a talk was about all I could muster. Dare I say I'll write up my thoughts about the conference in the next few days and post something about my experience? A wiser woman would not, but I still dream of the day when I actually take the time to summarize a conference.

Links from Day 2 of ETech

This is a dump of lnks of interest to me that come up during talks during the second day at Etech. Newest at top. Late start because I was running in the AM.

Ta-da Lists
Really simple to-do list management.

Cory Doctorow's notes
Cory's notes from James Surowiecki's talk, "Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds, or Is It Possible to Be Too Connected?"

The SchoolTool Project
"SchoolTool is a project to develop a common global school administration infrastructure that is freely available under an Open Source licence."

"Instiki is a Wiki Clone (What is a wiki?) that’s so easy to set up and so pretty to look at, you’ll be wondering whether this is a real wiki at all…Instiki only relies on Ruby—no Apache, no MySQL, or other dependencies(yay!). Instiki runs on Windows, Linux, OSX, and any other platform where Ruby does."

"A service which aims to coordinate social interactions between mobile users"

"Pac-Manhattan is a large-scale urban game that utilizes the New York City grid to recreate the 1980's video game sensation Pac-Man. This analog version of Pac-man is being developed in NYU's Interactive Telecommunications graduate program, in order to explore what happens when games are removed from their 'little world' of tabletops, televisions and computers and placed in the larger 'real world' of street corners, and cities."

Less monetize, more somethingelseize please

As much as I've been enjoying Day One of ETech, I have to say I've heard far too much of the verb monetize. While I understand the intent, can't we use something else? Monetize emits a kind of rotten dot-com stench. Let's have a new word we use to describe a way to implement a business model and keep something going, and growing, once one's got a cool product. Something akin to sustaining, or sustaining and growing, and making the web a better place, while rewarding the people who are trying to do so.

Links from Day 1 of Etech

This is a dump of lnks of interest to me that come up during talks during the first day at Etech. Newest at top.

Citizen journalism, one-handed department
"There has been so much debate over whether bloggers are journalists, the real issue has been obscured: are IRC chatters journalists? Mr. Sun has done some careful investigation and found that the IRC conversation logged below preceded the supposed revolutionizing of journalism by bloggers." Totally unrelated to the conference, but a funny reminder that I don't read Mr. Sun enough.

Ten Hour Takeover
"Ten Hour Takeover is your chance to choose the music Radio 1 plays." The BBC asked listeners to send a text message song request. Ten hours of music totally driven by the listening public. Awesome.

"Average UK adult listens to 24 hours of radio a week" according to Paul in the presentation, BBC Programme Information Pages: An Architecture for an On-Demand World. Wow. That's amazing. For comparison, I found this document about American teenage radio habits stating that US young adults agee 12-17 listen to an average of 13.5 hours of radio a week. Maybe it's because we've got more Clear Channel and they've got Radio 1?

Cory's notes from George Dyson's talk
Dyson's talk on "Von Neumann's Universe" was one of my favorites so far, and makes me want to take a field trip to Princeton to visit the Institute for Advanced Study.

Near Near Future
A blog from a woman who's, "currently working as a new media consultant for a multimedia and virtual reality park in Turin." I like the way she's got her categories displayed across the top of the page, using a larger font to display categories with more posts.

pasta and vinegar
"A blog by nicolas nova about pasta (human computer interaction, innovation, technologies, futuristic trends, location based services, mobile computing, user-centric stuff, video game design) and vinegar (digital culture and various weird stuff)."

The real digital divide (The Economist)
"Encouraging the spread of mobile phones is the most sensible and effective response to the digital divide"

(The above link is not from the conference, I read this on the plane and it's very interesting, I recommend the whole Technology Quarterly in the March 12th-18th The Economist. A lot of what I read in it feels relevant to what I'm thinking about and hearing at ETech.)

Google Sets
"Automatically create sets of items from a few examples." Here's an example with peanut butter & jelly.

Tech Buzz Game
"The Tech Buzz Game is a fantasy prediction market for high-tech products, concepts, and trends."

applied minds, inc.
Danny Hillis is talking about walking dinosaur that's electrically driven and fully articulated and all kinds of amazing robots that I'll find links for and pictures of later, I want to listen now.

Flickr Graph
"Flickr Graph is an application that explores the social relationships inside"

"flickrfox is an extension for Firefox (version 1.0) that lets you browse your Flickr photostreams in a sidebar."

Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager
Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager looks really cool but doesn't seem to work in Firefox. It graphs the popularity of baby names over time.

In sunny San Diego

Moblog_0.jpgI'm in San Diego at Etech. If you're here, come say hi! I look a little different. According to Xeni — who didn't recognize me — I look, "less stressed" that I used to. I think it's also the longer hair that's a big frizzy mess in the oceany yumminess that's San Diego's humidity. I've snapped a photo from my phone so you can get an idea of my new "look" and how tired I am from flying so very far in a horribly old cramped 737 that felt like taking a pick-up truck through the sky for six+ hours.