December 2003

Summary: Our first Masquerade Ball at Jamie's, Trebor Healey's reading for his first novel, Lodestar Issue 8 goes live, A Christmas Carol, Smuin's The Christmas Ballet, Christmas Eve Dinner at Watercress, The Ant War, New Year's Eve at Jamie's with Jamie, Aaron, Demetrius, and James

Dates on this page

Mon Dec 1, 2003

Lunch with Joel at Pancho's: Joel had taquitos and a Diet Coke. I had chicken fajitas (not burrito) and a Coke. This time they gave us tortilla chips right after we placed our order. Did they read my journal? Dinner at home with Patrick: he calls it Caesar de Coulour, I call it Romaine au Jardin, let's call the whole thing off coz it's essentially the same salad we had last night. Today was crazy at work. Joel needed me to find a 34 MB PowerPoint presentation and then convert it to PDF and put it on his iBook. Chris needed me to figure out why one laptop has a dead hard drive and two other laptops can't connect to any network. Tried out resolutions described in knowledgebase articles Q817571 and Q244268 and others, still not fixed. Met with Cindy briefly about various issues, including unresolved ENS issues on which Mike R still hasn't gotten back to me. Finished up some change proposals for James to examine when he gets back from Alaska tomorrow. Edited another play for Lodestar.

Tue Dec 2, 2003

Made secret info available to the office staff. Scanned in Bob Day's photo so I could return it to him. Completed commencement speakers page mockup and sent to Bob Day for review. Confirmed with Christine Jegan by telephone that we were within our rights to put her photo of Bob online. Made them live shortly after Bob okayed it. Mocked up the page for Inside UCSF for Joel to review and edit. Finished changes to the contact us page for OSACA and the new detailed maps and directions page, made them live, then sent out a notice to the staff. A bunch of listserv deletions for Joel. Troubleshot a downed server in the School which we link to but don't own by e-mailing Susie with the pertinent info. Lunch by myself at Beijing on Irving: beef with broccoli lunch special, $7 after a $1.50 tip. My fortune: To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it. 6 36 44 9 15 33. Processed photos of our entering class received from PhotoBooks, copied them up to the office server. Fixed geourl meta info to match our new location. Worked on the student directory on the Web project. Updated Web calendars. I learned today that the order I placed over 2 weeks ago with D and F Outfitters ( for my camouflage face paint will not ship until this Thursday. I'm quite upset that: (a) it's taken them so long to ship my order, (b) they charged my credit card 2 weeks ago and have not yet shipped the order, and (c) they have such poor customer service, as evidenced by the e-mail reply I received to my polite order status inquiry. I said: "Hi, could you please tell me my order's status? The transaction ID is [numbers deleted for privacy] and was placed at around 9:30 PM Pacific time on Sun Nov 16. By what method was the order shipped, and is there a tracking number?" to which they replied, "The order is scheduled to ship this week." to which I replied, "Hi, could you please tell me what day you expect it to ship and by what carrier?" to which they replied, "It should ship by Thursday of this week via 1st class mail. Tracking information will be emailed to you when the order leaves the facility." to which I replied, "Hi, could you please tell me why my credit card was charged 2 weeks ago when the order has not yet shipped?" to which they replied, "When the order was processed the stock levels showed that we had the item available but when the order was prepared to ship, the inventory was not available due to other orders that were processed the same day for this item." My plan for the face paint was to use it for the masquerade party this Saturday. When I ordered it over 2 weeks ago, I thought it would arrive in plenty of time. Instead, Patrick will be making me a mask similar to his. For the one he made, he started with a black mask made out of sturdy face-formed cardboard. He glued fabric to it (gold and green spots vaguely like a leopard, but smaller spots), bordered it with gold fabric trim, and added a pattern by hand in black permanent ink. Gold and beige skeleton leaves fan around the outline of the entire mask.

Wed Dec 3, 2003

Met with Rodney to take pictures of the Basic Science Instruction Center for the Web site. Made a lot of progress with the student directory on the web project. Breadcrumbs are done, so is leftnav and the leftnav image. h3 headings which disappeared along the way have been restored. The login and logout logic is working. Was doing cookie rejection testing when I decided to quit for the day. Placed an order for a car cover and replacement wiper blades. Lunch at Yummy Yummy. The restaurant was packed at 1:15 pm, and the host asked if I would mind sharing a table. I said no and ended up meeting a pleasant young Taiwanese man named Roger. He's a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, did his undergrad at Syracuse, and is now a first-year law student in a 3-year program at Golden Gate University. We shared conversation during our meal, him having some pho and me having bun bo xao—a dish which I missed having when I lived in Seattle. It was my first time to Yummy Yummy, and if Joel or Melissa are agreeable to Vietnamese food, I think I'll ask them to join me on a return trip. My meal was about $9 after tip—a little higher than I like paying for lunch, but I didn't mind because it had been such a long time since I had such that favorite dish I enjoyed. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers from Ha's takeout. Ha! After dinner I cut my hair, showered, caught up on the handful of blogs I read. Today Patrick started creating a Top 100 Madonna playlist—what he says are the songs that define her. He's working chronologically, so it starts out with the 12-inch version of Burning Up followed by the True Blue Super Club Mix of Everybody. Patrick met with Erick today and confirmed what Patrick and I had guessed—he and Travis are dating. Erick gave Patrick a copy of his manuscript to read and had more questions about getting published. Last Sunday my former co-worker at Adobe John Cornicello sent me e-mail saying that Stan Henry (aka Staszek), another Adobe employee, had died. Although I couldn't say that Stan and I were very close, we did work closely together for about a year providing support for Adobe's pre-Web online services: CompuServe, AOL, and its own BBS. I could say he was my friend—we were slightly more than acquaintances but not quite close friends. And he lived in my neighborhood just down the block from me, so I'd see him on occasion that way, too. I've never been good at dealing with death, having had very few people I could say I've known to die. Indeed, these past few days I've been reading The Lovely Bones, and the book fascinates me partly because death in large respect is something foreign to me. When I was about 10 or 11 I went to Honolulu with my dad for his father's funeral, but I don't remember a great deal about it except for a tradition of burning foil paper and another tradition of walking throughout the house calling the name of the deceased to follow you when you left. I remember I got to go but my brother and sister did not because I was the youngest descendent. When I worked at Adobe, my co-worker Gail gave birth to a stillborn child, and I remember then wondering: how do you communicate or provide sympathy for that kind of grief? I didn't know what to say to her after she returned to work, but some words fell out of my mouth, and I got the pained but welcoming grimace I expected in return. Was it enough? Is anything ever enough? I never know, and I always imagine that my words will sound no different than those who had come before me and those that shall come after me—a barrage of I'm So Sorries. Would it be better to say nothing at all? My father suffered a stroke once, but I can't remember where I was at the time—I must have been away at college. My mom once threatened my dad with a knife, but again I wasn't there to witness it. That's all I can remember of having to deal with death. Incredible, isn't it? Some might call it lucky, but I cringe at that—as though all life and death were decided randomly. Stan's death surprised me because he always seemed to have so much vivacity. I can think of nothing bad anyone has ever said of him. JC relayed news of memorial gatherings for Stan, and I've already decided I won't be going, figuring or hoping that Stan would understand and permit me to remember him in my own way.

Thu Dec 4, 2003

More great progress with the student directory on the web project. Data now displays on the page, and I can choose data sets and sort orders and see the data update immediately. Every third row is tinted in a light shade of our school blue. And during this testing I was able to fully test the keyboard shortcuts—both accesskey and Javascript shortcuts work very well. Page refreshes are surprisingly fast, even for a LAN connection, so I'm very pleased. There's still a fair amount of work to do, but this provides concrete data-out-of-the-database results I can see. Chatted with Mike R who stopped by to talk about unfinished network issues he needs to resolve from our move on November 1 (over one month now). Made some link updates for Sierra Alvis—her office name has changed from Office of Student Relations to Office of Student Life. Gave her some suggestions about broken redirects I discovered on her site in the process. Chatted with Cindy about my November timesheet. Refaxed the computer arms order to Hubert because I discovered today that he hadn't received the fax I sent on November 25. Paused a backup in progress because Melissa reported some speed problems with the server. Lunch with Joel at Nan King Road Bistro. Dinner at home with Patrick: Leftovers from Ha's. Helped Patrick study for a speech-play oration in Mandarin class tomorrow.

Fri Dec 5, 2003

Abs workout. Cleaned the bathroom sink. Made corn muffins while Patrick had leftover pancakes which we had frozen. Worked from home listening to Natalie Merchant and Alliance Ethnik. Student directory on the web project. Fixed Chris's new laptop which couldn't connect to anything by TCP/IP (dialup, DSL, or LAN). Read A List Apart. Restored interview reply forms for James to review before we make them live again this year. Link checking. Late lunch at home: leftovers from Ha's, some new steamed rice I made. Patrick says his speech-play at class went well. After that he went to Jamie's place to help set up for tomorrow's party. He came home, then went back for more setup. Late dinner at home by myself: spaghetti with garlic tomato sauce. I accidentally broke one of our Nikko low bowls while cleaning up lunch, cleaned up the mess with the vacuum, the dustpan and a brush, and a sponge. Found from a link on Travis's Web site, added it to the pharmacy current students page. Started rereading Timeline by Michael Crichton. I had read this years ago in Seattle, liked it. The movie is out now, so I'm rereading it before I see it in the theater. Updated my bookmarks page to remove some old table code and to insert the weather data that Chris De Lay briefly had on his blog. He took it down I guess because it stopped working for him, so we'll see how long it lasts on mine. I honestly don't know why I bother adding weather to my site, since it's so unpredictable in San Francisco and truly isn't accurate unless you have data for each of the dozens of SF neighborhoods updated every 10 minutes, but maybe Patrick—probably the only other frequent visitor to my bookmarks page—will like it.

Sat Dec 6, 2003

Brunch with Lee at Tangerine. Lee had the Fisherman's omelet, I had the house eggs (scrambled), Patrick had latkes with bacon. It was our first time meeting up with Lee after we had met him at Bill and Kevin's party several months ago. Lunch was very pleasant, and afterwards I bought a gift exchange gift for an upcoming office party and we shopped for used clothes at Crossroads. I took a nap while Patrick worked on his costume for tonight and did some more revisions on Second Island. After I woke, I helped Patrick make a muscle t-shirt for his costume: he found an image of the Dio album cover Killing the Dragon, which we put onto inkjet iron-on transfer paper then onto a plain t-shirt. He also applied a temporary tattoo which I had bought many years ago at Pink Zone on Broadway in Seattle but never had used: a dragon with a pink triangle. The party started at 8:30 PM, and we arrived at about 9. There were so many people. The hosts were Jamie, Iku, and Mark. Scott, Aaron's housemate and a bartender from Detour, worked the bar. In attendance were: Aaron, Joanne, Pauline, Brock, Tara, Kevin, two of Tara's friends whose names I missed, Seth, Kale, Mark, Enrique, Vince, Chloe, Nicole, Demetrius, Otto, Tristan and his boyfriend, Randy, Kai, Joseph, Delcy, and others I didn't meet. (Alina was in L.A.) As usual at Jamie's parties, there was a wide variety of delicious cheeses, crackers, appetizers, cookies, cupcakes, and more. I especially remember the toothpicks with scallops with proscuitto—delicious! Several people I presume he had hired were helping replenish the various food tables and work the kitchen and coat check. The variety of masks amazed me. Chloe bought hers from eBay—it was made of a gold-plated metal with shiny jewels arranged in lines to create the shapes of diamonds. The inside of it had an intricate, patterned etching. It was easily the most artfully hand-crafted mask at the party. She says it is from a line of masks that are one-of-a-kind—only one mask of its kind is made each year and is consequently very expensive. Hers was the mask from year 2000. Joanne's deco-inspired mask was all black with tall plume feathers clustered at the top reaching up from her right side and ornate cords decorating the mask. She completed the outfit with a sleek, open-back dress with a diamond-shaped diamond brooch at the small of her back. Very elegant and stylish. Kale's mask was made from two small colanders slightly bent at the handles and affixed together. The metal strainers became the eye coverings, and two fun-colored rubbery-looking pipettes came up from the center to create antennae. Jamie's was a harlequin's mask with jingle bells hanging high from 3 bright-colored peaks. A specially made fine harlequin's coat completed his outfit. Aaron's mask was that of an orc a la Lord of the Rings—scary! He wore a powder blue tuxedo shirt, black dress pants, and his outfit included an impressive gold-handled dagger with encrusted jewels and an intentionally dulled real-metal, silver-colored blade. Nicole came as a fairy godmother complete with a magic wand granting everyone's holiday wishes. There were so many other masks. One was of the Tweety bird cartoon character. Another was shaped of autumn leaves—one of my favorites because I like leaves. My costume was my camouflage French army pants and a Tom of Finland button-down camo army shirt and black boots. My mask was of velvet green and gold leopard print fabric which we found at Cliff's. Patrick's outfit was black vinyl pants, the Dio t-shirt which we made earlier, his silver neckace, and an almost-shoulder-length dusty blond wig. His mask was covered in the same fabric as mine but he added a border of gold tapestry cord, with two ornate buttons on each side to hold the gold elastic cord, and gold and beige skeleton leaves fanning the top and sides and curlicues extending from the bottom at the cheeks. He also used black and gold pens to create a positive-negative transition vertically across the mask. It starts out at the top as green background and gold leopard spots and by the time we reach the bottom it's switched to gold and green spots on a black background. Otto, an audio aficianado, answered all my questions about things related to sound and music. We talked about Stax, Cambridge Soundworks, Advent, Dolby Labs. Joanne and I talked about the party invitation, which she created. Vince and I talked about Irvine and dirt roads and the lack of sidewalks. Tara and I talked about Delcy. Randy and I talked about a woman at the party we didn't know who resembled Cybill Shepherd. Kai and I talked briefly about his writing. Mark and I talked about the company he works for called Archetype Solutions which helps clothes vendors create custom-made clothing ordered over the Web. Patrick and I had so much fun we didn't realize the time when we finally were tired enough to leave. It was 1:30 AM, and Muni had closed, so we took a taxi home.

Sun Dec 7, 2003

Slept in. Exercise. Veggie scramble for a small breakfast. Pizza slices and a root beer at Nizorio's at Castro and 18th. Patrick got jeans from Citizen, where we chatted with Simma who had gotten a job there a few months ago. I got jeans from Body. Chatted with Jesse at All American Boy. Hazelnut latte and a ginger cookie at Castro Tarts. Patrick read from The Crazed by Ha Jin, I read from Timeline by Michael Crichton. Wrapped the gift exchange gift. Scanned in things for my scrapbook: Joanne's invitation to the masquerade ball, birthday cards. Found more links to companies that do custom-made clothing. Dinner at home with Patrick: Patrick called it Pan's Woodland Penne or Demeter's Penne with Sage Cream. Three kinds of mushrooms (white, brown, portabello), pearl onions, heavy cream, butter, lemon juice, sage, chives, shredded parmesan. Watched Minority Report on DVD, courtesy of Chris C. So much fun about such a gruesome topic. A very richly crafted thriller.

Mon Dec 8, 2003

Abs workout. 2-egg, 2-mushroom omelet for breakfast for me (which I cooked myself!). Rice krispies for Patrick. Installed QuickCam 8.1.1 on Chris's new laptop. Installed the new hard drive for the shared office laptop which had arrived on Friday. Installed Win XP on it. Packaged the old hard drive for return to Dell. Defragged the cdrom binder. Installed Windows Updates and Office XP and about 15 required applications on the laptop. Confirmed firewall and anti-virus security. Tested the modem. Met with Susie about Web issues. Late lunch: veggie pizza slice from Segafredo. Picked up 2 donuts on the way home. Dinner at home with Patrick: roasted chicken stuffed with sage, green onions, cilantro, and garlic; mashed potatoes; broccoli with lemon; gorgonzola sage corn muffins. Copyedited all the poetry pieces and two fiction pieces for Lodestar. Read e-mail and blogs.

Tue Dec 9, 2003

I dreamt last night that young, politically hip, beautiful college students had taken over clothing stores, choosing outfits they desired and stacking them on the floor in ordered piles, demanding that Superman let them take their outfits home at no charge as was their right. Superman was real in this dream. He essentially told the students that they needed to figure that out on their own, made some joke about the Eiffel Tower, and took off. I took his joke as a reference to the 1980 film Superman II.—Abs workout. Half a chocolate-covered custard bar and one leftover sage corn muffin for breakfast. Student directory on the web project: more steady progress. thumbnails view layout is complete. Had to abandon using floats because of a float bug in IE, Mozilla, and Netscape 7—the first page or two would appear blank or mostly blank when printing and not all the data would show up on printout even though everything looked fine on screen. Used liquid tables instead, 5 columns, but easily adjusted if necessary. Tricky doing the iterations pulling the data out of the database because I wanted to include alternate row shading as well as index numbers as a th cell at the far right of each row: 5, 10, 15, etc. Got image protection mostly working: images cannot be downloaded if not logged in and cannot be viewed separately from the directory. The directory the images are in lies outside the document root. Need to clean the image URLs and then I'll be ready to prep the images and upload them. Joel and I had a delicious lunch at Pomelo today. Ena, who I noticed hasn't been taking lunch at her usual time—forgetting I think, or otherwise just putting it off—refused to go with us today. She gets to work by 8 AM, if I'm not mistaken, and she still hadn't had lunch by 1:15 PM when Joel and I usually end up leaving. She said she'd eat with us tomorrow, though. Cindy sends e-mail today: the office holiday lunch party will be at Beach Chalet this Thursday. Zazie was my first choice since I know Beach Chalet can get very noisy, but I don't mind. I'd been to Zazie twice in the past 6 weeks and the view is hard to beat at Beach Chalet, especially if you get a table by the window. Went to Trebor Healey's reading of his first novel, Through It Came Bright Colors. Books, Inc. on Market Street was packed—they had only 18 chairs, which were all filled, and another 15 or 20 people were standing. It's always so enjoyable to hear him read. He read a passage about the main character waiting for his lover/friend Vince to steal a pack of cigarettes from a convenience store. Another passage he read was about the main character playing a modified game of Life with his brother Peter while the mom listened in on their game and conversation. This scene was very amusing and had the audience laughing at the absurd situations that resulted. Afterwards we joined Trebor, whom we had met before through Felice, and 10 of Trebor's closest friends at Tin Pan for a celebratory dinner. He's been on tour promoting his book for the past 2 months, still with at least several cities to go after San Francisco. At the table: Trebor, unknown, unknown, Patsy Hatt, Ian Philips, Greg Wharton, horehound stillpoint, me, Patrick, Kirk Read, unknown, unknown, and Matthilda aka Matt Bernstein Sycamore. Kirk's sweater caught on fire from flames licking up from a pan in the kitchen but the restaurant claimed he had set it down on a candle and therefore was unable to provide any compensation. We talked about the recent Lambda awards festival, who won what, how many people didn't show up, that it cost $195 for a ticket. I remember horehound expounding superlative praise upon Trebor's skills as a poet. We'd gotten word that Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez lost the mayoral election to Democrat Gavin Newsom while everyone chatted in Books, Inc. after the reading. Patrick and I are disappointed, having voted for Gonzalez, especially since it appears to have been a very close race. We'd voted for Kamala Harris, who won the District Attorney race over incumbant Terence Hallinan. Read Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox—very well written. Remember: E-mail is a user interface. Still reading Timeline. I got Patrick to tell me what the reviews have been saying about the film and he says it's not good. So I'm a little disappointed that we probably won't bother seeing the film. But it's better to not have the memory of a bad film in place of the memory of a decent book, I think. Showered before bed, read e-mail and news. Late midnight snack at 1:19 AM: leftover mushroom penne. A long but satisfying day.

Wed Dec 10, 2003

Link checking. Helped James disconnect then reconnect his computer as his desk was replaced today—One Workplace had gotten his desk size incorrect by 2 inches and consequently his door wouldn't open all the way. His office feels much bigger than before now. Investigated unhandled exception errors when sending e-mail from Eudora 5.2. I suspect corrupted messages, but we don't have time to resolve it completely since he leaves for Hong Kong. Installed Eudora 6.0 for Chris on 2 laptops. Created a graphic banner in Photoshop for Bill Soller for the Center for Consumer Self Care e-mails he plans to send out. Lunch with Joel at Park Chow. I treated coz I didn't get to leave for lunch as early as I'd hoped—an inconvenience for him. We each had a cup of minestrone soup, then shared Joel's Cobb salad and my tomato and basil pizza. Yum! On our way back to the office, we saw a man walking a bunny rabbit on a leash. Joel stopped and stared and wanted to stay a while to watch it, thinking it was weird. I took a glance and kept walking, stopping eventually after seeing that Joel was fixed to the sidewalk for a few minutes. Helped Joel set up a wish list on Amazon. Upgraded him from Spinner to Radio@Netscape. Pinged the color laser printer and it now responds, so ENS finally got that port working—the one they were supposed to have activated when we moved in 6 weeks ago. Tested printing on almost everyone's computer, then sent e-mail to staff saying it was available. Installed QuickCam 8.1.1 on my computer to help Chris test videoconferencing software he's reviewing. Placed an order for James's monitor arm and a bunch of other computer equipment. Upgraded Debrah from Spinner to Radio@Netscape. Dinner at home with Patrick: green salad, fish sticks. Early to bed for Patrick. I stayed up and copyedited more fiction for Lodestar.

Thu Dec 11, 2003

I spent most of today working on edits to the admissions section for James. Cindy drove the office staff to our holiday lunch at Beach Chalet. Ena, Melissa, and I had fish and chips. I forget what everyone else had. Kristina couldn't make it—she had to sign papers with Brendan for the purchase of their house. After Beach Chalet, we returned to the office to play the secret Santa game. Cindy brought a fruit tart and a chocolate cake and Martinelli's from Andronico's for the celebration. Delicious! Our Secret Santa rule was: Get something nice for $10. Joel got a sushi kit which included 4 pairs of wooden chopsticks, 2 sushi mats, a wooden rice paddle, and a book with lavish photos and directions on how to make sushi. He offered to make everyone sushi for lunch one day. James got a gift certificate for See's candies. Cindy got gift cards to Blockbuster video. Melissa got a baby amarylis plant in a red glass plant holder. Debrah got a vase made of thick, clear glass. Ena got kitchen utensils and a clothed, zippered box (which was Joel's gift). I got a gift certificate to the Container Store (which was Debrah's gift). Kristina got a box of Joseph Schmidt chocolates (which was my gift). It was our first Christmas in our new office space. Hooray! Dinner at Four Season with Patrick: steamed chicken dumplings, walnut prawns, basil chicken. My fortune: Mothers are the only goddesses in whom the whole world believes. Patrick's fortune: You will always have as much as you have at present. Stopped in on Brian and Kelly who had just gotten takeout from someplace Brian called "Thai Dump." I might've misheard him, but I don't think I did. They're leaving for Montana in 2 days for a long weekend.

Fri Dec 12, 2003

Telecommute day. Link checking. Brunch at home: leftovers from Four Season. Student directory on the web project. Fixed keyboard shortcuts code which wasn't working properly in some browsers. Fixed stylesheet problems with wrong font-family and wrong text-decoration on control links. Restructured code so that it was easy to modify in the future, separating constants from the rest of the code and providing calculations instead of hardcoded values accordingly. Added a keyboard shortcut for logging out. Added links to each class year's websites. Added links from each "class of" link to that directory subset. To do: Ensure no page caching. Make clean urls for images. Upload images. Dinner at home with Patrick: tuna salad with hearts of romaine and bleu cheese dressing. Watched The Two Towers on DVD.

Sat Dec 13, 2003

Breakfast at home with Patrick: scrambled eggs, sausage. I napped all day long while Patrick did house chores and left for Jumpin Java to write. It was too crowded everywhere, however. He went to various coffee shops in the area and couldn't find a spot to sit. He got groceries at Golden Produce and came home. Dinner at home with Patrick: linguine with mushrooms and basil in alfredo, bread from Grace Bakery. I edited the last 2 pieces for Lodestar. Patrick wrote. Watched various DVD extras from The Two Towers.

Sun Dec 14, 2003

Breakfast at Bagel Bros. on Castro Street: Patrick had a french toast bagel with honey walnut cream cheese spread. I had an onion bagel with 2 eggs and cheddar. We shared a large coffee. About $7. Returned videos to Superstar: About $6. Looked for a gift for Patrick's mom in various shops, but he didn't find anything he liked. Groceries at Safeway. At home while listening to Holiday Classics on Netscape Radio, "Feliz Navidad" came on and Patrick was surprised to hear that I knew the lyrics and was singing along. (I had learned it in grade school—it's not that hard, really.) I found the lyrics online so he could sing with me. We copy-pasted the line "prospero ano y felicidad" into AltaVista's Babelfish language translator and when we saw that the result was "prospero anus and happiness" we laughed and laughed. When we fixed "ano" so that it had a tilde over the n, the translation came out more as expected: "prospero year and happiness." Coded all poetry and all but 3 pieces of fiction for Lodestar. Bios are in. Sent everything to Patrick for review. Lodestar Issue 8 goes live in about a week. Dinner at home with Patrick: shrimp quesadillas and cow and refried bean tacos. Patrick worked on revisions to Second Island. We baked cookies together: Betty Crocker cookie mix with M and M candies.

Mon Dec 15, 2003

Distributed cookies. Gave Melissa a new keyboard because her old one had stopped working. James's new monitor arm had arrived, so I left it in his office. Helped Cindy make a decision about paint color in the outer hallway. Downloaded Marratech Pro 3.4 and installed it. Tested videoconferencing with Rodney—got it working after he tried a bunch of different headsets. Lunch at the School of Pharmacy holiday party at the Faculty Alumni House: as usual a very nice affair with 4 food stations: dim sum (Peking duck, shau mai, hum bow, and 2 or 3 other kinds of dim sum), southern (gumbo, southern rice, and more), roast turkey, and desserts (lots of cookies and cakes and chocolates). Gave Cindy a new keyboard because her old one was sticky. Gave Cindy and James golf ball USB extension cords. Met with James to review changes to the admissions pages then made them live: interview reply form and calendar. Met with Susie: CSCC banner graphic for Bill Soller, old domain name redirection, contact us page changes, minor QB wording changes. Updated the prospective students calendar (which is also the outreach calendar). Dinner at home with Patrick: repeat from last night. Lodestar work: a bunch of edits from writers.

Tue Dec 16, 2003

Staff meeting. Made live graduation health insurance and filing changes. Link checking. Updated the current students calendar. Lunch with Ena and Joel at McDonald's on Haight Street: Ena and Joel each got chicken nugget meals, I got a crispy chicken burger. The whole McDonald's scene was bad—bad energy from all the customers and the staff behind the counter. I was happy to get out of there. Alumni Association new Web site meeting downtown at 44 Montgomery. Picked up lollipops for the office from See's. Mike R had dropped off six 4-inch, 6-conductor, male-to-male RJ-11 extension cables to resolve one of our phone problems which existed since we moved into our new offices on November 1 (but they don't resolve the problem). Did some cable management for Melissa, Kristina, Cindy, and myself. Created new class schedules for winter quarter in PDF from Debrah's InDesign documents, then uploaded them. Dinner at home with Patrick: angel hair with shrimp in garden vegetable marinara sauce, sourdough bread. I coded one drama piece for Lodestar, almost finishing it completely.

Wed Dec 17, 2003

Since I had finished (re)reading Timeline, I now started reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Actually, the back of the book contains an excerpt from Quicksilver, so I started with that. History has never been my favorite subject in school, so I wasn't sure I'd like Quicksilver, but his writing is such a pleasure to read. I already have my suspicions of who the Ben character will turn out to be. (But maybe his Wired interview tipped me off subconsciously and I don't remember now.) I did enjoy Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler awhile back and that had a lot of history in it. Mike R left me a message saying he'd send someone to fix the phone jack problems. Our office neighbor Kim Bivens dropped off holiday treats: delicious cookies from Biscoff—very sweet of her! She's so nice! More admissions changes for James: Outside Evaluations, Info for International Students, Verifying Course Work for Foreign Schools. Added notes indicating that our current forms were not to be used for the fall 2005 application cycle. WebCT meeting. Lunch at Pasta Pomodoro with Ena, Joel, and Melissa. Ena and I had a chicken salad with minestrone soup. Melissa had penne with puttanesca. Joel had conchiglie with broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and no sauce, no olive oil. We enjoyed a free warm chocolate cake with cherries and amarene sauce and some whipped cream on the side because I had given my personal information to Pasta Pomodoro. If you want to get in on the scoop, let me know and I'll tell you how. Uploaded updated schedules for Debrah. Sent James a file he needed—he worked from home today. Began coding the pages for calendars for the 2004-2005 school year. Dinner at home with Patrick: spaghetti alla carbonara. Finished that drama piece from yesterday. When the entire play is printed out, it's 119 pages. The code for it was 7,801 lines. And that's just one play. I hope someone out there appreciates that stuff. Need more sleep than I've been getting the past few nights, so I went to bed early tonight—10:30 PM. Today's music listening: Netscape Radio: Jazz Holiday, R and B Holiday, House, Hi NRG Dance. I never heard back from Mike R or the person he said would contact me.

Thu Dec 18, 2003

Installed 2 USB golf ball extension devices for Chris. Cable management for Chris. Swapped out a sticky keyboard for Chris. Placed an order for more computer stuff. Our Ergotron keyboard and monitor arms for the student lounge arrived today. I'll wait to open the package until our installer is available. Lunch with Joel at You See Sushi. Installed a USB golf ball extension for me. Measured my window, ordered blinds swatches from Smith and Noble. Made live many of James's changes to the admissions section. Finished coding Web pages for the 2004-2005 calendars. Finished coding pages for changes to contact information for other School units and departments, combining 2 addresses (physical and mailing) into a single address for each. Applied a watermark message to the PDF and Excel forms currently on our site to warn Fall 2005 applicants that the forms available now are for informational purposes only. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftover spaghetti alla carbonara, garden salad. Coded another drama piece for Lodestar—this one is 2,582 lines of code. We got photo holiday cards from the Dornblasers and the Caseys today—both wonderful wedding photos—a very nice gift! Turns out I was right about Ben in Quicksilver! Ha! Today's music: Right Side of Tough mix—house music by Mark Wilkinson which we found on

Fri Dec 19, 2003

Link checking. Updated hours on our contact information page for our holiday closure. Rewrote the instructions for Form E to accommodate a request of Debrah to clarify what people should do in the case of a letter writing service. Reviewed notes from James about degree conferral transcripts, decided how to integrate his new information into the website. Implemented clean urls and a basic form of image security for photos in the student directory on the web project (can't view the parent folder, can't view or download the image unless you're logged in). Shopped for mini blinds for the office. Dinner at home with Patrick: pesto pasta shells with vegetables. Today's music: DJ Chloe, 1983 Shep Pettibone, and Chicken Lips found on

Sat Dec 20, 2003

Worked on Lodestar. Errands in the Castro, said hello to Jesse while crossing the street at 18th and Castro. Lunch with Patrick at Thailand Restaurant. Rented videos from Superstar on Castro. We were planning to do grocery shopping at Safeway, but the power had gone out for various buildings in the area. Gold's Gym and Cafe Flore and that block of Noe was all without power. The power came on for a few minutes but then went out again. Dessert at Pasta Pomodoro: warm chocolate cake—this time with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. Grocery shopping at Tower Market. Watched Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life on DVD with Patrick. The film was better than I had expected. The DVD extras were well done except we had trouble getting some of the extra features to play.

Sun Dec 21, 2003

Music in the morning: Maximum Rave (1992) and Moonlighting (1987). More work on Lodestar. Made Lodestar Issue 8 live! Mid-afternoon snack for Patrick: a bagel. Errands in the Castro. Early dinner with Patrick at Fuzio: barbwire chicken and iced tea for him, Singapore BBQ pork noodles and water for me. Groceries at Cala Foods. Made 2 potluck dishes for tomorrow's potluck at work. Balanced the checkbook. Sore stomach from our late night snack: chicken soup.

Mon Dec 22, 2003

Over the weekend, ITS reported a security breach to the itsa mail server which forced them to reset passwords for some accounts. Cindy also notified me that the vacation service message was not working: "Error: Cannot connect to server!" so I reported the problem to ITS. Cindy and I seemed to be the first to report the problem. itsa was scheduled for emergency maintenance today from noon to 12:30 pm so I got the word out to students on the current students page. I manually updated Cindy's vacation message. Finally resolved the problem with Melissa's computer playing music too fast. She had AC 97 sound card drivers installed, and a search on Google found lots of other people with the same problem but no solution. I uninstalled the AC 97 drivers and upon reboot Windows 2000 automatically reinstalled different drivers which seemed to work properly. Cable management for Melissa, Kristina, and Debrah. Chatted with Steve and a painter about the paint color for the doors—no one knew the exact paint code. Potluck in the office for lunch. The theme was "Meat" because Kristina—the only vegetarian in the office—was away in Europe. Debrah brought porcupine meatballs (made with Rice a Roni). Debrah called her own dish "ghetto" and I don't think any of us had heard her use that word before, so we were all quite astounded. I brought pasta shells in pesto with proscuitto, romano, pearl onions, yellow and orange bell peppers, tomatoes, and whole fresh leaves of basil. I also brought white cake cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting and red and green sprinkles. Joel brought a garden salad with raspberry vinaigrette and diced mini tomatoes. He also brought mystery meat ravioli with cream sauce. He also brought heart-shaped cookies with different colors of frosting and multicolored sprinkles. They looked professional—or at least store-bought—but I thought for certain he made them himself because what store manager in her right mind would be selling heart-shaped cookies the week before Christmas? Ena brought plates and bowls and Welch's juices. Melissa brought dim sum: potstickers, shau mai, and ha gow. We'd decided on the potluck at the last minute last week, so James didn't know about it but we let him eat anyway—there was plenty of food. I think Joel called it the best potluck ever and promised that next time he'd make sushi for everyone. Started gathering images for the student database—a harder task than I had imagined since the filenames are not all normalized and since some students are 5-year students so there's some jockeying around I need to resolve. So to start out, I need to make a mapping table from all the old filenames to all the new normalized filenames and resolve the 5-year-program students in the table before naming the files, resizing them, and uploading them. Melissa and I made some wrapping paper to rewrap Kristina's Secret Santa gift. Converted a travel reimbursement form to PDF and uploaded it for Debrah and Cindy. Uploaded an updated copy of the electives schedule. Did link checking. Created a new mini template for thumbnails of downloads. Dinner at home with Patrick: veggie boboli pizza and leftover dim sum. Watched videos online: Royksopp "Remind Me" (cool, astounding, weird) and "Poor Leno" (sad in a cute kinda way), Cassius "I'm a Woman" (Patrick thought the diva looked perfect in it) and "The Sound of Violence" (the image quality was too low to adequately appreciate it). Watched some videos on Watched trailers at Troy, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Peter Pan (Universal), Paycheck Featurette, Stock Car 3D IMAX, Billabong Odyssey, Shrek 2. Watched Bjork's "Cocoon" from her website. Read Roger Ebert's review of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Ten twenty-two—it's time for bed. At 11:19 am today, an earthquake measuring 6.5 hit central California, but I didn't feel it at all. Patrick said he was on Muni in a tunnel and the train stopped for about 10 minutes—he didn't know why until he got home.

Tue Dec 23, 2003

Link checking. Digital housekeeping—filing files, deleting things I didn't need. Lunch: takeout from Panda Express. My fortune: A surprise will come from an unexpected source. Left work at 3:30 pm to shop for presents for Patrick. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftover pasta salad and leftover boboli pizza. Went to the 7:30 pm show of the American Conservatory Theatre production of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" at The Geary Theater (415 Geary Street) for which Patrick impulsively bought tickets while he was downtown shopping for Christmas gifts. The production seemed quite elaborate to me. The cast numbered 80 people, not counting the understudies! Patrick was excited to see the play. He played Bob Cratchit when he was 10 years old in a school production of the same play and hasn't seen it since. Our extremely cramped seats were in center balcony (G103 and G104, $38 each) and would have been tolerable if a tall man hadn't sat down in front of Patrick. Where we were the seats weren't staggered, so the man's head mostly blocked Patrick's view. (Mine was fine—a short woman sat in front of me.) As the play began, we moved to nearby empty seats at the side which provided a much better view and more legroom; an usher who saw us move as the lights dimmed didn't say a word. Patrick didn't prefer Rhonnie Washington's performance of Ebenezer Scrooge, but I had no complaints and nonetheless we enjoyed it all very much. At home, we received a Christmas card from Chris and Nate: Santa pulling reindeer against the backdrop of a giant moon over a forest leaving a trail of rainbow sparkles behind them. At first glance, I had thought E.T. had gone gay.

Wed Dec 24, 2003

Bagels with cream cheese for breakfast with Patrick. Wrapped Patrick's gifts. Napped. Lunch at home with Patrick: leftover pasta salad, bread. I chose a secret event for Patrick today: The Christmas Ballet by Michael Smuin and Smuin Ballet at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (700 Howard Street at Third). Our seats again were in the balcony (A101 and A102)—among the best seats in the balcony, I'd guess. The event was made particularly memorable because of the 3 women seated to our left in seats A103, A104, and A105. The one in A104 was talking to both of her friends during the first minutes of the performance. I said nothing, thinking it would stop after awhile, but it did not and it was hard to enjoy the music and the ballet with them talking. I leaned over and said quite loudly, "SHHHHH!" drawing it out at the end hoping that others would hear causing them further embarrassment. I saw their eyes big, like they were spooked by a ghost, and they got very quiet after that. Some time past the midpoint of the first half, however, the cellphone of the woman in A104 started ringing. It was some carefree, shake-your-ass jingle that I didn't recognize, but I tell you it didn't go well with Mozart's Domine from Mass in C Minor. I remained calm and didn't even turn to look at her. During intermission, nothing was said between us. However, the woman in A104 decided—after at least 10 minutes of intermission—that she needed to get up. She passed in front of me and Patrick and was two steps away when the lights started to go down. She stepped out the doors then came immediately back in—I guess she was being asked to take her seat. It was dark by the time she got back to our row, and as she passed again, she stepped on my foot. "Oh, I'm so sorry! Did I step on your foot?" I couldn't tell if she did it intentionally or not, so I completely ignored her by leaning over towards Patrick to see the performance. Not a word, not even a glance. She again tried to get my acknowlegement of her apology—"Sorry! Are you okay?"—and after a few embarrassing seconds of realizing that she was being ignored, she finally sat down. I was a bit surprised that they caused no further grief for the second half. I had first found out about the ballet from a postcard flyer in Nan King Road Bistro. The flyer showed a photo of a blonde white woman with great teeth taken during (presumably) one of the ballet performances. She wore a Santa cap and a satiny outfit—tight-fitting above the waist and dress-billowy below. Her left arm is raised in sync with the white-shirted, black-pantsed male dancer behind her. They both have great teeth, in fact. And they both have orgasmic smiles of joy on their faces. The woman's armpit happens to be prominent in this particular photo. Since her arm is raised, the armpit is just beside her face, and they both appear in the center of the image. It's as though her face and smile is saying, "Hey! Look at how smooth and beautiful my armpit is!" In fact, until I saw the words "The Christmas Ballet" on the card, I thought it was an ad for women's shaving cream. I can't recall ever having been to a ballet performance. (I figure Stern Grove doesn't really count.) Dance—yes, but ballet—no. At least not that I remember. Act 1 was all classical: Bach's Magnificat; Zither Carol; Corelli's Largo; Mozart's Domine; Riu Riu Chiu; Hodie Christus Natus Est; Veni, Veni, Emmanuel; Mozart's Gratias, The Gouchestershire Wassail; Handel's Pastoral Symphony; Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy; and Bach's Jouchzet Frohlocket. Act 2 was all modern: Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Haven Gillespie and The Jackson 5), Christmas in New Orleans (Louis Armstrong), Little Drummer Boy (Lou Rawls), Pretty Paper (Willie Nelson), Santa Baby (Eartha Kitt), Winter Weather (Peggy Lee, Art Lund, Benny Goodman), Baby It's Cold Outside (Frank Loesser, Ray Charles, Betty Carter), Frosty (Jack Rollins and Jimmy Durante), Christmas Island (The Heptones), Jingle Bells (Duke Ellington—orchestration), Sugar Rum Cherry (Tchaikovsky, adapted by Duke Ellington), Bells of Dublin (The Chieftans), Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano and Esteban), and White Christmas (Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby). Shopping downtown: The Container Store, Virgin Records. Dinner at Watercress with Patrick: Christmas Eve four-course dinner. Course 1: cappuccino of lobster bisque. Course 2: sesame seed and black-pepper-crusted ahi tuna (with golden beets and ahi tuna tartare Napoleon, and balsamic soy reduction) for Patrick and three large crispy tiger prawn wontons (stuffed with tiger prawn, tomatoes, aromatic herbs; basil coulis on the side) for me. Course 3: grilled hanger steak (with polenta gratin, sauteed daikon julienne, and green peppercorn sauce) for Patrick and grilled swordfish (with roasted sweet corn, cherry tomato relish, and Yukon Gold potato gallet) for me. Course 4: dessert was five "petit fours" each: chocolate truffle cheese, coconut St. Honore, Christmas fruit chocolate, strawberry meringue, and toffee nut puff. Drinks: 1 bottle of sparkling mineral water, 1 glass of red wine for Patrick. Dinner total: about $60 each. (We didn't try it, but today's menu also offered an oven-roasted veal t-bone steak with baby spinach, herbed mashed potatoes, and carmelized onion sauce.) Watercress (1152 Valencia Street, 415-648-6000) is the restaurant formerly known as Watergate. It's the same location and same owners as the old Watergate, but they moved the new Watergate to Nob Hill (1177 California Street, 415-474-2000) and changed the name of the restaurant at this Valencia street location to Watercress. We had become familiar with it when we lived in the Mission over a year ago. We'd gotten a server who seemed green, but she was friendly and eager and did an acceptable job. We were pleased, as usual, with the kitchen's efforts: excellence in all courses and very satisfying. Watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with Burl Ives.

Thu Dec 25, 2003

Opened Christmas presents. Patrick got me Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver in hardcover from Books Inc. I got him a spider-catching device (which I think I wrote about previously but decided to give to him for Christmas instead). The device is from Australia—it's a long pole with a gun trigger at one end and nylon bristles on a mechanism at the other. When you pull the trigger, the bristles fan outward. When you release the trigger, the bristles join in the center, catching the spider. The device claims that you can catch spiders without hurting them and release them outside—perfect for animal rights activists or Buddhists! We haven't tried using it yet. I also got Patrick his favorite chocolates—Ferrero Rocher (only three: everything in moderation)—as well as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on DVD and a gift certificate to Kabuki Springs for a Javanese Lular massage and rose water bath. Sam got us a giant popcorn tin decorated with dalmations with cheese, butter, and caramel popcorn. After opening gifts, we took Sam to the airport—he's going home to New Orleans—then we went to Harbor Village for dim sum. We'd arrived just in time—within the next hour the place was full with dozens of people waiting for a table. We got a great window table with a view of the ice rink. $32.10 before a $4.00 tip. After brunch we attempted twice to see Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: We went first to the AMC Van Ness on the way back home from dim sum but the first showing had already started and the next one wasn't for 3 hours so we ditched there and tried Century 20 in Daly City but although they had many showings they were all sold out until about the same hour—3ish in the afternoon. We didn't want to wait around or go home and then come back, so we just didn't bother seeing it. Instead we came home and napped, then made Christmas boboli pizza (red, orange, and yellow bell peppers with basil and red sauce) and watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. We started with the commentary but Ang Lee's Engrish was very hard for me to understand and we both agreed that neither of them—James Schamus in particular—had very interesting things to say. They should have done the commentary with all the women!—Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, and Pei-pei Cheng. Had trouble with the computer; will do brain surgery on it soon.

Fri Dec 26, 2003

Breakfast: granola with rice milk. I changed all my car's wiper blades. When I last took my car in for service to BMW San Francisco, they would have charged me $60 for parts and labor to do the same, but I declined. Instead, I ordered replacements from Circle BMW in New Jersey for $16.10 (before shipping). I had actually ordered part numbers 61 61 8 220 913, 61 61 8 220 914, and 61 62 1 381 754, but they instead mistakenly or intentionally sent me part numbers 61 61 1 470 281 and 61 62 1 381 754, which required me to trim 2 of them with scissors to the correct size. The steps to replace the wiper inserts was not covered in the BMW manual, so I used very helpful tips provided by Joseph Koral and Brain21 who had posted messages to a 318ti enthusiast message board. The steps are tricky and it took me about an hour to do all three inserts (front left, front right, rear) without assistance. My additional tips: use rubber gloves to keep your hands clean, use a flathead jewelry screwdriver to nudge the rubber under the tabs during insertion. The tabs are not meant to be bent in any way—just nudge the rubber past the tab to release or secure it. Napped. Stonestown Mall: Patrick has sorely needed a new pillow; his neck has been hurting. We found a firm standard for $13.49 at Macy's that should do him well. Patrick also got a chestnut-scented candle tin at half off at Illuminations ($5.43). Late lunch at Jitra: pig pad thai, yellow curry chicken, steamed rice, hot tea: $21.10 before a $3.25 tip. From an overheard conversation at Jitra: "Oh, I'm not eating beef! Mad cow!" Light bulbs and kitchen gloves and Christmas wrapping paper and bows at Walgreens ($21.97). Grocery shopping at Safeway. Napped. Late dinner at home with Patrick: Leftover boboli, made a romaine salad with mushrooms and red bell peppers, creamy garlic dressing. Edited an essay as a favor to Patrick who was doing a favor for his Mandarin instructor who was doing a favor for her son. Patrick has not been feeling well the past few days. At first we thought it was a cold, but today he thinks it's allergy symptoms. We got a Christmas card today from Sam's mom Dianne with Louisiana things on it. We sent a thank you card to Sam in New Orleans.

Sat Dec 27, 2003

Patrick made apple spice cake which we ate with whipped cream for breakfast. Link checking. Made small changes to the subscription form for Lodestar. Cleaned the bathroom. Read from Erick's manuscript, titled "Confessions of a Rice Boy." Patrick did laundry. Lunch at home with Patrick: peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches. Napped. Dinner at home with Patrick: romaine salad with mushrooms, bell peppers, blue cheese dressing. Minestrone soup. Patrick finished Erick's manuscript earlier in the day. Got a sweet Christmas card from Jeff and Pauline. Edited my bookmarks page.

Sun Dec 28, 2003

B√Ętard Fils de Croque Madame with Patrick for breakfast. Technically there is no such recipe—it was my own invention because I wanted a Croque Madame for breakfast but we didn't have all the right ingredients. So the recipe is simply: Make an approximation of a croque madame sandwich using whatever ingredients you have at your disposal and modify the recipe to your liking. For us, that was: sliced country French bread, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, grated parmesan cheese, margarine. Delicious! Washed my car. Lunch at home with Patrick: soup for me, soup and a bagel. Grocery shopping at Tower Market with Patrick. Put the new car cover on my car for the first time. Dinner at home with Patrick: DiGiorno Pizza. Installed the Antec Easy USB device which I purchased to put 2 USB ports on the front of one of my computers. They should have called it "Hard USB" instead, however, because it was not easy to install. I have an Abit KT7A-RAID motherboard which I purchased in January 2001 and the USB header on it didn't match the default for Antec's Easy USB, so I had to manually rewire the cable they supplied and had to replace the header with one with the correct key pin since theirs used a different key pin. Did troubleshooting on the computer that's having problems—didn't want to do brain surgery just yet if I can avoid it. The problem is that the CD-RW/DVD combo drive gives a blue screen of death randomly when playing DVDs, and it also fails to write CD-Rs or CD-RWs successfully. Other than that it's working fine. Reinstalled Windows XP Service Pack 1a. Replaced the cpu fan. Cleaned another nearby fan (tho I don't know what it was cooling). It played Baraka with no error until the very end when it popped up the dialog asking you to report the problem to Microsoft. Removed the combo drive, inserted the old DVD drive. Hooked up the tape backup again. Restarted twice to ensure that both devices were being detected. Installed tape backup software, restarted again. Updated anti-virus on 3 computers. Ran virus check on 3 computers. Moderate rain late tonight. Patrick framed some of his Lodestar artwork as a gift for Sam. Ran defragment on 3 computers. Clean-reinstalled ZoneAlarm on the problem computer.

Mon Dec 29, 2003

The Ant War. The rain of the past few days has sent hundreds of ants into our apartment. I did some short-term defense with the vacuum and a squirt bottle with soapy water while Patrick completely cleaned off the kitchen countertops to ensure they were free of crumbs. Lunch at home with Patrick: grilled cheese sandwiches. Started redoing computer backups after going without for a long time due to the computer problems since October. Dinner at home with Patrick: rigatoni with pig sausage in cream sauce. Patrick is getting over his cold. Saturday was the worst of it, he thinks. Played two DVDs in the problem computer as a test—no problems. Errands in West Portal: Radio Shack, Walgreens, Diamond Video. Placed liquid ant bait. Watched Terminator 3 on DVD which neither of us had seen. It was not completely satisfying because I thought (a) it had essentially the same plot from the previous two films and (b) the amount of destruction in this film was gratuitous. The ending explained some things in a reasonable manner but not all of the larger story lined up properly—confusing. Restarted the backups because I had to cancel them in order to watch the DVD. Maybe it's time to get a standalone DVD player? The problem computer gave me a BSOD, but not until the end of the movie. I guess it's time for brain surgery. I was pleased to find out that Young Sherlock Holmes was released on DVD just a few weeks ago on December 2. It wasn't a perfect movie, but I remember best the Bruce Broughton soundtrack. I had the cassette and the soundtrack was never released on CD—or so I thought. But then I thought to look for it just as I was writing this journal entry, and says there actually was a CD released in March 2002 ("extremely limited promo")! Amazing! Released in 1985, the film Young Sherlock Holmes was notable for having the first entirely CGI character. From the stained-glass knight to Gollum/Smeagel in Lord of the Rings—you've come a loooong way, computer. And in less than 20 years! If I live to a very old age and people come to me asking what I've seen in my life, this will hopefully be something I remember to tell—that I witnessed the birth and growth of computer-generated characters and effects.

Tue Dec 30, 2003

Leftover apple spice cake (again) for breakfast. Also a bagel with cream cheese. Pruned and edited my bookmarks page. Shopped for a new monitor and a DVD/VCR combo player. Cleaned and organized and labelled the kitchen cabinets. Also sealed all foods in ziploc bags. Rain stopped today, ants mostly gone. They ate all the bait! I forgot to mention my dilemma yesterday when buying ant bait. I decided to go with Terro—a small bottle of liquid bait that you simply squeeze out onto cardboard scraps and set out—because I respected that company's desire to give me more actual poison for my money and forego the need for plastic, fancy-shaped containers for the bait as with the Raid traps. That's like spending money for pests to have a luxurious building in which to eat their poison. Or it's like serving them the poison on fine china plates. Ridiculous! The Raid containers intrigued me, however, particularly because of the alarmingly friendly text blazoned across the top: "Kills the hive queen and the colony!" I pictured Ender Wiggin rolling his eyes (or something). They should have added on the back of the box: "Slaughter ants surely and easily!" or "Wipes out every ant soul!" Errands: Diamond Video, Tower Market (to pick up our sharpened knives from the butcher shop), Andronico's. Dinner at home with Patrick: farfalle al salmone—yum! Ate the last of the apple spice cake for dessert (finally!). Watched Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl on DVD with Patrick: surprisingly fun—don't forget to watch past the credits. BSOD again while watching. Early into the next morning I did a clean install of Win XP on the problem computer.

Wed Dec 31, 2003

Tested the new Win XP install—still got weird errors. When I inserted the PowerDVD 4.0 installation CD-ROM, the computer restarted without warning. Later, I got the yellow balloon in the lower right corner saying "Windows Corrupt File." I'm convinced now the problem is the hard drive and I must do a zero fill to identify and block out bad sectors. Scandisk doesn't seem to have done that adequately for me, so I'm using Hitachi's Drive Fitness Test utilities on recommendation from Starman. However, since the backup yesterday was interrupted at the verify routines, I'm not certain that the catalog was updated completely so I must rerun the entire 42 GB backup once more before doing the zero fill. Interrupted troubleshooting to watch the DVD extras from Pirates of the Caribbean. Drive Fitness Test and Maxtor's PowerMax both indicate that there is no problem with the hard drive, so I guess my earlier hunch was wrong and now I must wipe the new Win XP install and install Win 2000 instead. New Year's Eve at Jamie's place with Jamie, Aaron, Demetrius, Patrick, and James. James is Jamie's new housemate—moved in yesterday or today I think. When asked how long he'd lived in San Francisco, he said "one day." Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, he lived in the East Bay a while before making the move to the city. Patrick and I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (no raisins) with vanilla frosting and black sprinkles. I fell asleep at 12:30 pm.