sun, 28-jan-2007, 10:21

happy piper

photo © 2007 Michel dos Santos Mesquita

Andrea and the dogs placed third out of twelve teams in the third ADMA challenge race of the season. At one of the turns, Buddy listened to Andrea and started to make the turn but Piper (pictured on the right) decided to ignore her, and Buddy followed along. Down went the snow fence blocking the trail, as well as Andrea and the sled. Despite that, they still had their second best time over the 4.5 mile trail.

Thanks to Michel for the great photo of Piper after the race!

tags: dogs  mushing  Piper 
wed, 17-jan-2007, 20:36

Every so often I get curious about nutrition and whether my diet is actually a healthy one. Over the years I've used a program called NUT, which is a really great console program that uses all the data from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. A couple days ago I downloaded the latest version and compiled it on my MacBook Pro. Thanks to the genius of writing simple, portable C code that builds with gcc, it compiled perfectly (not even a single warning) and I was off and running.

Unfortunately I was having a little trouble deleting the 26,642 gram (58+ pound) apple I accidentally entered for lunch today, and because I had the source code available, I discovered a buffer overflow error in the menu entry code. (A buffer overflow is sort of like when a form asks for your first name but only has room for six letters, and instead of stopping at C-h-r-i-s-t you continue to write the rest of your name into the following boxes not designed for your first name.) So I wrote to the author. An hour later, he wrote me back to thank me for finding the bug. Along the way he found a couple more, fixed them, and released a new version.

Timeline: Find a bug before dinner. Contact author. By the time I'm having my first beer, the program has already been fixed.

Try getting that kind of support from your commercial vendor.

tags: food  linux  OS X  sysadmin 
tue, 16-jan-2007, 14:33

ready to run

photo © 2007 Dave Partee

We've finally gotten enough snow for the sprint racing season to start. There was a race last weekend, despite temperatures hovering right at the -25°F cutoff. I wore both of my union suits under my wool pants and multiple layers of shirts, sweaters and coats, and still managed to get cold. This Sunday it was a lot more pleasant, and more people showed up to race.

The photo shows our dogs lined out, Andrea on her sled, waiting to go up to the line to race. Piper and Buddy are in lead, with Kiva and Koidern (who is mostly hidden in the photo) behind them. Kiva is already rocking in place, trying to get the sled to move.

Andrea and our dogs ran the four and a half mile course in 15 minutes, 20.7 seconds, which was good enough for fourth place in a field of twelve. Average speed, 17.8 miles per hour; maximum speed, more than 22 miles per hour.

tags: Andrea  Buddy  Dakota  dogs  me  mushing  Piper 
mon, 15-jan-2007, 11:14


Still working my way through Against the Day. I'm averaging a little over nine pages per day (instead of twenty), so I won't finish the book in time for the Pynchon-L group read. In fact, I probably won't finish it until April. That's OK, though. I'm very much enjoying the book, and I think if I was reading it faster, I'd miss more of what makes the book great. I've been collecting quotes and character names in my notebook sections, and more of those quotes may appear in future posts. Here's a good one from page 415:

Once we came to understand the simple thermodynamic truth that the Earth's resources were limited, in fact soon to run out, the whole capitalist illusion fell to pieces. . . like religious Dissenters of an earier day, we were forced to migrate, with little choice but to set forth upon that dark fourth-dimensional Atlantic known as Time.

Serious stuff. Don't think the fourth-dimension is currently open for travel, though, so for the time being we're stuck with the world we've made.

There's also a lot of humor in the book, not the least of which is the names Pynchon gives to his characters. Anyone who read Mason & Dixon remembers the Reverend Cherrycoke. Funny character names from Against the Day include Heino Vanderjuice, the law firm of Somble, Strool & Fleshway, Dodge Flannelette, Tansy Wagwheel, Alonzo Meatman, Ruperta Chirpingdon-Groin, Thrapston Cheesely III, Yup Toy, and many others. Often Pynchon combines two words to make a funny sounding, and perhaps even meaningful name.

I wrote a little Python script to generate these sorts of names. You can download it here: ( Just change the value of the WORD_DICTIONARY variable to where the wordlist is on your computer. Some good ones it came up with: Tweedyblore, Untarnubbin, Quiapoundcore, Cuskgluteus.

Gotta go get my nine pages in before it's time to plow the driveway.

tags: books  writing 
sun, 31-dec-2006, 15:12

I'm not going to go into much detail here because I don't aspire to be a music writer. If you're interested in the records mentioned, check out the reviews at Pitchfork, Stylus Magazine, Cokemachineglow, and other music blog sites. With the exception of Grizzly Bear, available directly from Warp Records, and the RIAA artists, everything here is at eMusic. All the lists are in order from top to bottom even when I didn't use numbers.

sunset rubdown

shut up i am dreaming

Top 10
  1. Sunset Rubdown, Shut Up I Am Dreaming
  2. Califone, Roots & Crowns
  3. Destroyer, Destroyer's Rubies
  4. Calexico, Garden Ruin
  5. The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America
  6. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
  7. Tom Waits, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, & Bastards
  8. Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
  9. The Futureheads, News and Tributes
  10. Girl Talk, Night Ripper
Not for Everyone

These would be in my Top 10 list, but I'm making a special category for them because they're strange and unique enough to be held apart and above the rest of the Top 10. You might not like them, but they're all fantastic and quite different from anything else you're likely to hear.

  • Joanna Newsom, Ys
  • Scott Walker, The Drift
  • The Books, Lost And Safe
  • The Fiery Furnaces, Bitter Tea
RIAA Demerits

These two albums are pretty great too, and could have been in my Top 10, but they're distributed by record labels that belong to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Normally, I prefer to spend my money with companies who aren't forcing digital rights management down our throats, treating customers as criminals, and in the case of Sony, infecting our computers with spyware. But I made an exception for these records.

  • The Decemberists, The Crane Wife
  • TV On the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain
EP's These are too short to really qualify in the Top 10 list, but they're really good.
  • Sunset Rubdown, Sunset Rubdown EP
  • Bishop Allen, 2006 monthly EP's
  • Professor Murder, Professor Murder Rides The Subway
  • Tokyo Police Club, A Lesson In Crime
Honorable Mentions

The rest of the list. All of which are very enjoyable, and might be on your Top 10 if you give them a listen.

  • Grizzly Bear, Yellow House
  • Swan Lake, Beast Moans
  • Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit
  • Portastatic, Be Still Please
  • Aloha, Some Echoes
  • Beach House, Beach House
  • Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, Ole! Tarantula
  • Plus Minus, Let's Build a Fire
  • The Evens, Get Evens
  • Beirut, Gulag Orkestar
  • Chin Up Chin Up, This Harness Can't Ride Anything
  • M. Ward, Post-War
  • Asobi Seksu, Citrus
tags: music 

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