fredrikegerman: (Default)
At a bit of a loose end tonight, looking to play a game of something because other things have been taking away my gaming time lately. We got on a bit of a Dominion kick over vacation in Maine, playing with a mix of the original and the expansion.
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For those who haven't already seen the announcement in other venues, I'm involved in the latest Occasional Players production, Spike Heels by Theresa Rebeck.

The Occasional Players Present:

Spike Heels

by Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Andrea Humez

Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

"Pygmalion goes awry in this contemporary comedy of manners which explores
sexual harassment, misplaced amour and the possibility of a four sided love triangle."

Friday, August 14, 2009 8:00pm
Saturday, August 15, 2009 2:00pm
Saturday, August 15, 2009 8:00pm

Arlington Center for the Arts
41 Foster Street, Arlington, MA 02474
Directions

Tickets: $12 at-door. Or reserve at www.occasionalplayers.org

Note that parking for the Arlington Center for the Arts is not on Foster St; it's on Tufts St., the next street over, which runs one way from Mass Ave to Broadway below Arlington Center. Expect to drive around the block if you look at Google Maps.
fredrikegerman: (Default)
graph )

OK, so graphing things, I have learned that for sufficiently large n, the following expression:
n (1 - (1 - k/n)^k)

Is approximately k^2. The asymptote is pretty striking, actually (see the graph for k=1..4). But I can't quite derive the limit analytically... Anyone remember the trick here?

I'm prepared to feel pretty daft here...
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Last week I attended ECOOP in Genova, followed by two days of hiking in the beautiful but forbidding Cinque Terre. I ate lots of delicious and light food (mostly seafood, with some salami), sampled the fantastic white wines of Liguria, and generally had a good time.

Administrativia: Do you know anyone going to Italy? I have two travel guides (restaurant recs were quite good). I also have a ticket giving the bearer 12 euros credit at any Italian railways ticket booth. Damn ticket machines. I want someone to claim this just because it pisses me off so much that I paid 20 euros for an 8 euro ticket. But of course all the ticket offices were shut, not to open again until after my departure.

Brief travelogue singing the praises of the Cinque Terre )

And then there's getting home Italian-style. )

Other observations: Why is Italian so much easier to fake than French? You can get by much more often than should really be allowed simply by tacking an extra vowel or two onto the word you expect.

I understand now why motor scooters are so popular in Italy. There are tons of districts where the roads are less than 1 lane wide, and often buildings span the roads and you walk under these narrow archways. It has been thus, I am sure, for two millenia. Want to pull up in front of your apartment? Yeah, nice try. I observed a gentleman riding his scooter down a foot-wide ramp at the side of a long set of steps. At the bottom it became clear his only way to leave would be to ride back up the ramp again. That was in the countryside; Genova is crazier still.

Genova may not be terribly touristy, but they did formerly have a law requiring every noble family to maintain a downtown Palazzo to be used by visiting dignitaries. These Palazza make jolly nice viewing, and are conveniently arranged along a couple of strategically-positioned streets.

The Genoese also invented modern banking ("banca" refers to the tables in a particular square), so I suppose that we indirectly have them to thank for the modern economy. For good and for ill...

Heard...

May. 13th, 2009 09:55 am
fredrikegerman: (Default)
"Portmanturd," in response to a use of the word "webinar." Not quite a Google whack, but close. Proving that in the age of the web, nothing is truly original.
fredrikegerman: (Default)
Yes, it's cooking time again. Today I made a particularly successful... Fettucine with mushrooms and shallots. )

Star Trek

May. 10th, 2009 10:29 pm
fredrikegerman: (Default)
Have concluded that we will probably not end up seeing the new Trek movie. This is based on the fact that we probably don't care enough to go see it without a mob, and everyone we know who did care seems to have seen it already.

Prove me wrong, I dare ya!
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An article on the dangers of data mining in economics. This comes hot on the heels of a discussion at a workshop last week about whether computer scientists are doing science: That is, is there enough emphasis on reproducing and/or refuting past work? Do we spend enough time eliminating bias from our experiments? My general feeling is we don't. The interesting thing in this discussion was it connected this problem with another related problem in the field: nobody gets credit for building new infrastructure, because it's just recreating the infrastructure somebody already built somewhere else in a different context. But it provides a great opportunity to evaluate past research.
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Some of my colleagues have been working on the Explaura, which is a music search tool that is not based on collaborative filtering (users who liked X also liked Y)---not only because some of the really interesting bands just don't move enough units to give reliable data, but also because collaborative filtering usually can't tell you why they're making the recommendations they do.

Explaura instead looks at the tag cloud (the aura--geddit?) surrounding the music. Stuff like the band's Wikipedia page, the words used in reviews, and so forth. The real treat is "Steering" mode (click on the steering wheel icon). This lets you manipulate a tag cloud: assemble a tag cloud from multiple bands, delete some tags (eg dates and geography), enlarge, shrink, or negate tags, etc.

The recommendations seem to be pretty good. Apparently I ought to be listening to Van der Graff Generator (pretty good prog rock based on hitting the play button, sounds a bit like Passion Play with saxophones) and The Nice (harder to call). And more obvious stuff like Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Genesis.

Apparently Andrea should listen to Ben Folds (yeah, OK, I can see that). And we should both be listening to The Pentangle. Unless that turns out to be a bit too psychedelic...

Give it a whirl. See what you get when you crank "Geek Rock" up to 11. (OK, Jonathan Coulton, Harry & The Potters, TMBG, and Ben Folds...) And so forth.
fredrikegerman: (cycling)
I'm a bachelor for the week, so I'm looking for stuff to keep me distracted. On the looking-for-stuff-to-do front, anyone up for doing something Saturday evening or Monday evening? I'm thinking of seeing the Indigo Girls on Thursday, is anyone interested?

I went on my first longish bike ride of the season today, having gotten sick of lousy weather falling on all the Saturdays where I'm not already busy. Around 42 miles in 2.5 hours, a bit over 14mph average. I rode up Tufts, round Mystic (too fast as usual), down Turkey Hill, then hopped on the bike path. At Bedford I hopped on 225 to Monument St and had a nice ride over the rolling hills, but discovered the bridge to Concord was out and managed as a result to be confused about which street I was looking for out of Concord Center again (answer: Lowell St., the one I had just come in on due to detours). Noodled around a bit on some local roads out past Concord Academy, then headed back via Virginia Rd and Mill St.

Just before I hit Virginia Rd. it clouded over and I started getting chilly (I was glad I wore my ninja hat and gloves even though I had just a shirt and shorts on). I got about halfway along Virginia itself, at the strange branch of Draper on the side of the airfield (for destructive testing?!) when... BONK! I looked down and had hit 30.00 miles exactly. Damn, still 12 miles from home; I'd been keeping a pretty good 15mph pace up to that point, even with the Turkey Hill climb.

So of course the rest of the ride was a bit of a mess, and I was glad I was already headed home and only had a couple of semi-serious climbs left. I succored myself on my bottle of 50% juice, but really I just needed to be in better shape and have eaten better before I left.

Tonight I went to my first Chamber Chorus concert in ages; they're typically very badly publicized. I happened to notice in the "arts mail" they send to undergrads that they were doing a Harbison tribute. We sang three of his anthem settings when I was in the chorus 10 or so years ago, and I really enjoyed and connected with them (they're texturally rich, and you have to really be on your toes with dynamics and articulation). One of them, a setting of "O Magnum Mysterium", was on tonight's program. The other Harbison work was based on Umbria of St. Francis of Assisi, and featured a chamber orchestra; this was the premiere of the version with chorus. Fantastic!

I've never seen a tuba mute before. They're 3 feet long. Getting them in and out quietly is a bit of an operation.
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Can actually be found here.
fredrikegerman: (Default)
For random reasons I find myself wanting to watch Venture Brothers. Does anyone happen to have DVDs of one or more seasons? Any words of warning/advice?

For that matter, if anyone wanted to have a Venture Brothers watching mob, that'd be even more fun.

Assuming I can get my hands on it.
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[livejournal.com profile] desireearmfeldt has class this evening until late. But I just heard from a colleague that CBC is having a Barleywine festival tonight. Is anyone interested in going, say at 6:30PM or so? You don't actually need to have any Barleywine, there's food too.
fredrikegerman: (bicycle)

In a catch basin, you'll find This craziness )

Has anybody else beheld this particular wonder or know anything more about it? The particular location is kind of startling!

fredrikegerman: (Default)
Grokked from [livejournal.com profile] algorithmancy, check out Auditorium. The first computer game in a long time where I just sat and played out all the demo levels. Beautiful in a particle-simulation kind of way.
fredrikegerman: (Default)
Lesson: I have no idea what Photo Booth is called or how the heck to extract the resulting file from the twisty maze of files iPhoto creates. (And why the heck does "Export" provide 4 different file naming options, none of which makes the slightest bit of sense, only to give you a file name dialog afterwards?)

Also, Safari appears to hate the "insert image" link on the damn posting page.


fredrikegerman: (Default)
I have a colleague (and cycling loon of the 600km brevet-riding variety) who's visiting us until December. But his short-term lease has decided to renovate, and he's looking for a short-term situation from now until the end of the year. If anyone has a lead I could pass along to him, that'd be great.
fredrikegerman: (Default)
Has anyone else found themselves in the position of having to buy enough tile for a bathroom lately? Where did you end up going, and were you happy with what you got?

The back story here is that our upstairs bathroom shower is starting to crack and there may be some structural damage underneath. We think we've got it early enough that it should be fixable, but we'll have to re-tile the shower and re-do the bathroom floor. So we're basically re-doing the bathroom. We'll need to buy shower wall tile, shower floor tile, and bathroom floor tile (probably all different sizes from one another). We know (or can find out) how much of each we'll need, but would just as soon short-cut a lot of comparison shopping if we can.

So, those of you with home improvement clue ([livejournal.com profile] unclenomer, you out there?), any recommendations of where to look / what to look for?
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I'm planning to attend Festival@First: Nothing Serious on Friday evening (Aug 1) at 8. Is anyone else planning to go then? Would anyone like a ticket (I have a few available if you contact me)?

I'm also planning to see [livejournal.com profile] desireearmfeldt playing Madame Armfeldt (if that isn't funny you should come) in A Little Night Music in Kresge Little. I will probably be going next Friday Aug 8, but that may vary depending on the plans of the special guest star. Anyone else up for Night Music? [livejournal.com profile] narya is definitely going on Fri the 8th, so you should go then as well.

Update: Special guest star JMA is also in for Friday. Come one, come all. Anyone up for dinner in Central beforehand? We're up to 1 spade in the bidding for a venue.

Finally, I just learned that Jethro Tull is on its 40th Anniversary Tour and it's in Boston on Monday. I have no idea what tickets are available this close, but I'm thinking I'll try to go.
fredrikegerman: (cycling)
Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] dzm's recent escapade, and realizing that my bike muscles are kinda wimpy this summer, I decided to finally get around to trying the Great Blue Hill climb in the Blue Hills. This is a paved road closed off by a barrier just off Rt 138 near the Trailside Museum. I ended up doing the climb (426 vertical ft in 0.87mi) three times. I then did a loop through the middle of the park via Canton Ave, Unquity, Rd., and Hillside St. before heading home. Here are some things I learned:

  • Distance to ET from home is 4.7mi, which took about 21min. This turns out to be further than I expect, on the order of half my daily commute out to Sun (say, the distance from here to the Arlington/Lexington border).
  • I went down and back via Stony Brook Reservation. The 12.5mi mark [rough Minuteman distance] took me about to the public pool at the bottom of the reservation (the end closest to the Blue Hills).
  • The tricky thing with any route involving Stony Brook Reservation is getting to the top end. I took High St out of Brookline Village, then went round the back side of Jamaica Pond and hopped on to Centre St. But basically all the major roads from here south are busy and alarming; the parkways are at least pretty at not filled with people pulling in and out of parking spaces or playing games with traffic lights, but there's pretty steady traffic. And I was reminded that Centre St along the Arboretum (by Faulkner Hospital) is utterly depressing, actually. On the way back I cut through the Arboretum itself for a stretch (can't ride quite so madly, but much nicer), and also hopped onto the paths at Jamaica Pond and took them to Brookline Village (where you're screwed, because there's nowhere to go. Darn Rt. 9).
  • Getting to the base of Great Blue Hill involves climbing Brush Hill Rd from where the Neponset Valley Pkwy crosses the Neponset River. This is quite a bit lower elevation than the start of the trail, so I had already been working steadily when I reached the base of the hill. This made the first climb pretty tough.
  • Oxygen flow is key. I found I could regulate my comfort level and pedal speed by deliberately breathing faster and harder. The downside: my lungs are now full of pollen and crap. But it's what made it possible to climb three times comfortably.
  • I'm less comfortable going down hill (at least on a narrowish road with pedestrians on it) than I am cycling on level ground. Got to work on comfort and control there.
  • A banana and a cold drink after the first climb was totally the thing. They sell cold drinks at the weather station. Another cold drink after the last climb was also a good thing.
  • I was otherwise totally going to run out of the half gallon of liquid I'd brought. Luckily, lots of parks means water fountains can be found. The Arboretum is particularly well-supplied. Parks also have public restrooms (not a big need today, and it wasn't even especially hot).
  • Massive discomfort kicked in right around Coolidge Corner on the way home (even after taking it back a notch on the swing through Jamaica Pond). Everything was tickety-boo up until about mile 35. From there the neck cramps and concrete legs kicked in. This point used to be around mile 75, so got to work on that somehow. Also need to watch the posture for neck / shoulders; I tend to lean down on the drops to open my shoulders up (big cramps on my mtn bike) but this seems to cramp up my neck. It may be that for long distance rides I need slightly higher, further-forward bar position.
  • When the hill gets easier, don't forget to upshift! Keeping a steady pace really helped; if you crawl along the flatter stretches (and there are some) it really gets endless and the steep bits hammer you hard as you've got no momentum coming in.

I recommend the Great Blue Hill climb if you want to get better at climbing hills. It's tough, but it's short enough that you work hard and then you're at the top---and you can stop and take a look around, catch your breath, etc. before heading back down again. And it's not very far; it's less of a ride than, say, Concord Center. Plus there's commuter rail not far away in several directions, so if you can't climb back up Stony Brook then there's a way home.

There was a guy who did three climbs in the time it took me to do my last two (which I did in quick succession). He didn't even seem to be breathing hard. Something to aspire to...
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