l33tminion: (Wings)
Unpacking progresses: Books are unpacked, paintings are underway, kitchen stuff needs more work. There are a few more items that need to be acquired, plus actually having food in the fridge and so on. The internet has been activated. And I already had my first call to the plumber. :-/ Perhaps the seller installed some new fixtures, poorly.

The new place has been named The Nest. Perhaps an obvious name.

Tuesday evening, Tim invited me to a concert at The Sinclair (Doe Paoro and Givers). Both acts were impressive, as was the venue and the food. The woman next to us at dinner was buying shots of Fireball for the bar. It turned out she worked for the company. Sounded like an interesting job, they've sure made that into a very successful brand.

I need to get my sleep schedule back on track. I've been sleeping well in the new place, but it's a bit louder in the mornings, given its proximity to the train.

Level Up!

May. 17th, 2015 12:28 am
l33tminion: (L33t)
Another busy week at work!

Now that it's public within the company, I can say: I got that promotion! There were celebrations this week, a cake with my name on it and everything. Relieved that my hard work paid off, and that I don't have to contend with that process again for at least a few years.

I also made it to the top-eight in the office's M:tG block limited tournament. I'm really enjoying the new set and the twist it puts in the block format (a good way to transition to the new two-set blocks).

This weekend has been relaxing so far. Caught a bit of Porchfest (a Somerville-wide outdoor music festival) and did a bit of spring cleaning.
l33tminion: (Conga!)
Friday: Went to one of WMBR's 50 Years of Boston Rock concert series at Cuisine en Locale at Anthony's (up on Highland in Somerville). Very cool venue. Mistle Thrush did not disappoint, all the music was great, and the sheer quantity of getting the band back together made for a fun atmosphere.

Saturday: Thomas and Melissa (friends from SCA dance) got married. Julie and I went to their wedding at St. James's Episcopal Church near Porter Square (my first time attending a church wedding ceremony). They had some cool wedding clothes (which Melissa made herself, including some really elaborate and beautiful embroidery), and there was a reception afterwards at the German-American Club in Walpole with board games and cake. (The German-American Club is a pretty cool event venue, I'd been there previously for SCA events. Aside from the usual things that would recommend a venue for large events, they have excellent beer and they're the only event venue I've seen with a cash bar that doesn't charge captive audience prices.) It was a wonderful time, and a very heart-warming occasion. Best wishes to the happy couple!

Sunday: Xave ran the game he wrote for Iron GM at Intercon again, so I had a chance to play it. Was fun.

This week is going to be busy in a good way, too. Yelp Elite fall party this evening, Rosh Hashana dinner with family on Wednesday, Fluff Festival next Saturday. The weather is getting colder and fall festivities abound!
l33tminion: (Keepon)
Another week where I don't have the energy to post about the weekend until the next weekend.

Last weekend, Julie's dad visited us in Boston. We took a side-trip to Concord, New Hampshire, went to see the symphony at Tanglewood (Beethoven's 9th, an amazing performance), and had some amazing meals (in particular, my first time dining at the new(ish) Boston branch of Fogo De Chao).

On Wednesday, we went to a concert at Club Passim along with Xave and Sarah. Hanna Sanders and Liz Simmons opened, Katie McNally and her trio were the headline performance. Both acts were really amazing, it had been too long since the last time since I caught a show at Passim. We were hoping to get a meal at Veggie Planet (the restaurant at Passim) before it closed for good, but it seems they already packed up shop. Hopefully Passim will be able to replace the restaurant for its dinner concerts, but they were running a pretty good concession stand.

Work has been busy. I had an important meeting with a technical contact at an airline this week. I did some good work this week and encountered some frustration. Today had good parts, yesterday was a disaster. But I survive, to the long weekend. Performance reviews are coming up once again, but what do I have to show for the last six months? Much accomplished, but little complete. A bit frustrating.

The produce box that arrived today contains cantaloupe and callaloo (some strange green, but that name is used for a variety of vaguely related greens, so I don't know which one precisely this is).

I finished Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall (good story and setting, an interesting game) and read Lexicon (a pulpy thriller, very similar premise to Snow Crash but a less satirical setting).

Workouts have been good, but I have a bit of a pulled muscle in my neck. It's recovering, though.

Really glad to have a long weekend.
l33tminion: (L33t zombie)
I continue to fail to write.

Last weekend was the MIT Mystery Hunt. This year was Alice in Wonderland themed, surprisingly a Hunt theme that hadn't been done before. I wasn't able to focus on hunt as much as in past years, but I participated some. My team had their best performance yet, actually finishing all of hunt this time and coming in fifth place. Puzzles and solutions are here, my favorite puzzles included:My work continues to be busy, but I'm finally seeing some positive results on my project of the last few weeks. The reading group at work is now reading Joel on Software.

Watched The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki, which was everything I expected from Mamoru Hosoda (the director). A good, moving story, and some really well-done animation.

Went out to a concert on Wednesday, saw Elizabeth and the Catapault at Brighton Music Hall. Good stuff. Opening band was Neulore.

This weekend, Melissa (my sister) is in town and we're taking some time to visit extended family.

It continues to be super-cold in Boston, but this week's snowstorm wasn't nearly as bad as anticipated.

This all seems pretty fragmentary, which is yet another reminder to write things I want to write when they're fresh in my head.
l33tminion: (Yay!)
In the last couple of weeks, I've become interested in Bitcoin again, after reading Gwern's essay on Silk Road and writing a run-down of the technology in response, seeing the US government issue regulatory guidance on the subject (viewed by the market as encouraging, perhaps surprisingly), and seeing odd news in connection (or maybe not) with the crisis in Cyprus. So I've acquired a few Bitcoins of my very own. Hopefully the opportunity to play around with that emerging technology will be worth the cost, this is one of the cases where taking the effort to be an early adopter is much cheaper (depending on how you look at it).

I looked back in time to see if I'd commented on the subject before, and I did, prior to the 2011 crash. Not surprisingly, I was totally wrong. (One of many good examples of why taking financial advice from me would be a bad idea.) Well, not totally wrong. That post was June 2, 2011, so I was right about the collapse of "the current bubble" (and I'm not making any strong predictions about the new current bubble), but completely wrong about Bitcoins being largely useless (e.g. Bitcoinstore as a Newegg competitor, BitPay or CoinBase as point-of-sale solutions, Bitspend as a more general intermediary). More interesting than I'd thought.

Other stuff: Passover seder with my family was nice. DJ's band (The Silent Order) played their first gig with KICK the Band, Melt, and Rose Compact at Club Bohemia beneath the Cantab Lounge on Friday. I had my first relaxing weekend in a long time; hopefully April will be less crazy than March. I started on taxes (late this year).
l33tminion: (L33t)
Happy New Year, everybody! It hasn't been a bad start to the year. Well, I've gotten over my illness, at any rate, though this cold season continues to be among the worst. Those around the Harvard campus and Harvard Square area should be aware of an outbreak of whooping cough among the undergrads there.

A partial "fiscal cliff" deal was passed on-time-ish, raising marginal tax rates to the pre-Bush-tax-cut levels for marginal income over $400k individual ($450k joint), letting the temporary payroll tax cut expire on schedule, extending unemployment insurance, and deferring the issue of spending cuts for another two months. Strikes me as much better than an unmitigated disaster. Much rather have a debate on how to pay now for a social safety net that will still be there in the future than on how to screw everyone who's not near retirement rather than return to the grim darkness of 1990s tax rates. The 2010s are probably going to be more expensive than the 1990s, but the 1990s were easy-mode so far as decades go.

Various people were in from out of town this weekend, so it was fun to hang out with folks and listen to DJ's band work on recording their first EP.
l33tminion: (QED)
Sure has been a while since I did one of these, but here are a few recent tidbits.

Teach A Kid to Argue: On why teaching kids good argument skills is a better idea than you might think.

The Upside of Ugly: On plastic surgery and technological solutions to social problems.

Jay-Z’s "99 Problems," Verse 2: A Close Reading With Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps: Musical "life lessons for cops and robbers".

The Problem with Witness Testimony: One thing people should keep in mind, especially if they ever serve on a jury in a criminal trial.

The Toothbrush That Saved the ISS: Low-tech solutions in a high-tech setting.

Six Thoughts on the Case of the Breast Feeding Professor: The discussion prompted by this story is way more interesting than the story itself. Also, this.

Why Greece's Neo-Nazis Are So Popular: Not so different from other historical occurences.

Life Spans Shrink for Least-Educated Whites in the U.S.: Dimitri Orlov saw this coming.

The Spiritual Crisis of Zionism: A fascinating essay in response to Beinart's The Crisis of Zionism.
l33tminion: (Default)
Friday: Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross book talk at Brookline Booksmith (there doesn't seem to be video of that, but here's an earlier version of the talk/reading). They were talking about their as-weird-as-possible novel collaboration, The Rapture of the Nerds, and how the ideas behind the modern version of "the singularity" date back (at least) to a late-19th-century rocket scientist and theologian.

Saturday: Belgian Beer Fest, featuring quite a variety of local brewers and imports. The highlight for me was Night Shift Brewing, a local gem I was previously unaware of. Also went to the Greek Music and Food Festival, which featured traditional dance in elaborate costume.

Sunday: Union Square hosted a music festival entitled Help! Our Bands are On Fire to assist members of The Columbia House, a local artists' household destroyed by a house-fire.

Unfortunately, I must also mention another piece of sad news: ITAer and famed Lisp hacker Dan Weinreb died last Friday.
l33tminion: (Music Metroid)
Did I fail to mention (here) that Cape Air has been running ITA's airline reservations system since March? In other Google product news, evidently the Google AR glasses thing is real. I'm not sure it's good for me to be even more plugged in than I already am, but I'd probably buy something like that, especially if it gave me a shot to replace my faulty recall for names/faces with technology.

I write too little here lately, and end up accumulating stuff until it's terribly disorganized. I should try to write short posts again when I have something to say, but here's a jumble of what I've been up to lately:
  • I've gotten back to playing Skyward Sword, which is fun, but the control scheme is often more of an annoyance than an improvement.
  • This weekend, watched Sita Sings the Blues (a retelling of the Ramayana set to the music of Annette Hanshaw), an odd (and good) movie that almost didn't get released due to copyright-law brokenness.
  • Delicious brunch at East by Northeast in Inman!
  • Returned a letter to the post office that was misdelivered because they'd confused "St." for "Ave." and my city, state, and country for an entirely different one.
  • Saw Tjani, Dillon Francis, and Nero in concert at the House of Blues. Good stuff, though I think I liked the opening acts better. Big-effects shows can really detract from the music.
  • Squares has been fun lately, when I get the chance to go.
  • Spent all of Monday evening failing v1s and v2s bouldering. My climbing skill has really plateaued, even though I'm getting stronger in some ways.
  • Fitness stuff continues, though I haven't written about that in ages. My big goal lately is to get up to a (back-)squat of two plates (225 lbs.), did six reps of 205 today.
Edit: Corrected weights.
l33tminion: (Climbing)
For DFW fans, The Decemberists Play Eschaton.

The real message of the Susan G. Komen / Planned Parenthood controversy.

An essay urging Americans to Raise the Crime Rate.

A 60-minutes interview with free-climber Alex Honnold.
l33tminion: (Music Metroid)
Going to concerts reminds me that I need to go to more concerts.

A few weeks ago, ventured to Northampton with friends to see Dar Williams at Iron Horse Music Hall (opening act was Hannah & Maggie). Both modern folk bands in a classic style (which is to say, vocals and guitars without much embellishment). Good stuff.

This week, went to see Dir En Grey at Paradise Rock Club. They put on a well-produced show, but I preferred the opening band, The Birthday Massacre. Partially, that's just because I was more familiar with the opening band, but I also like being able to make out the lyrics (helps that Paradise has good sound for their opening acts). Dir En Grey's selection for the concert leaned more towards death-metal, I like some of their more melodic stuff better.
l33tminion: (Music Metroid)
Things I've been up to this week:

Seeing the new Captain America movie (worth seeing if you like comic book movies), finally watching Silence of the Lambs (which I've had out of Netflix for months now), getting bruises on my forearms from new kettlebell exercises, bouldering because I get to the climbing gym late, playing Bastion (pretty good, and addictive; it's way too easy to buy and download XBLA games).

Last Sunday, Ames invited me to a music festival at the Cambridge Y, an event called "We Are Guest Talk, Free: $10". Unbeknownst to me, that event was the third annual installment of the "Weird-Stalk" concert series, so it was significantly stranger than I'd expected, including:
  • Genres of music that begin with a hyphenated "noise-"
  • The sort of jazz that raises the questions "how do you get that sort of sound out of a saxophone?" and "why would you get that sort of sound out of a saxophone?"
  • "Preggy Peggy and the Lazy Baby Makers"
  • Rock that sounds like it was created for and by extra-terrestrials (or at least some far-future sub-culture (actually a present sub-culture, thanks to insanity and the magic of the internet)) with radically different aesthetic sensibilities from ordinary human beings, played on an instrument that looked like the Reaver version of a theramin after it had dismembered and adorned itself with the internals of an innocent family of electric guitars
  • A husband-and-wife team performing advertising jingles
  • A multimedia theater/film piece about a mannequin communicating with its creator / data entry specialist through a series of VHS tapes entitled "How to Become a Better Person Through Clothing Choice"
  • The sort of absurdist theater that is to theater as "noise-[whatever]" is to music
  • Packing tape and a microphone as percussion instrument
l33tminion: (Nom)
Last Thursday, saw Rose Cousins and Kris Delmhorst at Passim with Xave and Patti. Both really good.

Saturday, I went to the NELA Fetish Flea with some friends. (Pretty much what you'd expect from the name. NELA stands for "New England Leather Alliance"; it is not an association of tanners.) I'd heard back in college that it was a fun event to attend, and in fact it was, if in a rather odd (for me) way. But the panels were interesting and the people were nifty and I ran into lots of acquaintances from pretty much every social circle I'm in, plus some I hadn't seen for ages.

Probably the most unusual and interesting of the vendors there was one selling antiquies (academic tone, but still probably NSFW). The shopkeeper was the sort of antiques dealer in it more for the history than the commerce, and the shop stocked books such as Victorian "flagellation novels" (nominally serious academic looks at the psychological effects of corporal punishment, by no means designed to cater to a more prurient interest), Mark Twain's venture into ribald humor (which he originally published anonymously, but he couldn't resist owning up to it when he was too old for the admission to ruin his career), and the book that provoked the court case Memoirs v. Massachusetts.

I only bought one item, a cool pair of raver goggles from these guys, decorated with a lightning pattern that glows under UV light. Something flashy for the next time I go to Psyforia or the like.

Sunday, I went to brunch at The Blue Room with DJ, Michelle, Ames, and Tara (who I met at New Years'). Their brunch buffet is exceptional and not usually crowded, except since this was the weekend before Valentine's Day, it was packed. In the afternoon, we watched Man on Wire, which is a great documentary and also the best heist movie featuring tightrope walkers.

Friday and Monday had dates with Jessica (who I met at random a few weeks ago). Friday was fun, Monday turned out less well (I failed to secure tickets for the movie we'd hoped to go to on time). Wonder if I'll get the chance for a third date.

I picked up my clothes from the tailor, so now I have one suit that's okay and two more shirts that fit about properly. Picked up my new glasses today, too.

I'm in the middle of watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's a really good show. Good story, funny, and the world-building is really creative.
l33tminion: (Default)
The past week was busy. The coming week looks like it will be busy. My life seems to be taking a turn for the awesome.

Last Wednesday: Saw Antje Duvekot in concert at Passim.

Thursday: Another snowstorm. This winter seems determined to make up for the past few winters.

Saturday: Workout, haircut, and new dress shoes (and they are some good looking shoes). In the evening, I went to hang out at Alibi Lounge at the Liberty Hotel (an old prison converted into a hotel with several very popular bars). Met a few interesting people, too, which will make wrangling my schedule next week even more of a challenge.

Also, as part of my ongoing fashion quest I switched to wet-shaving. Which is awesome! But the second phase of that plan involves switching from my infinity-blades-by-2020 gizmo to a more sturdy one-blade-at-at-time safety razor, a plan that is not at all 100% likely to end in disaster. Wish my face good luck!

Today: Brunch with DJ and Tara (who we met at The Buttery on New Years'). And tapas with Jen, who I met on OKCupid.

Tomorrow, with any luck, a trip to the tailor.
l33tminion: (Slacker Revolt)
Education: An essay on why going to any non-top-tier law school is a one-way ticket to penury. Ditto (most of the time) for getting a PhD. An article on the overuse of homework in elementary school.

Music: A love note sent indirectly, a twist on the multitrack music video, an OverthinkingIt essay on the song Like a G6.

The Internets Attack: An article on memetic epidemiology in the Cooks Source plagiarism scandal (more background on that), and a hypothetical story of a flash mob gone wrong.

Clowns Attack: Clowns versus clowns, an anarchist army of rebel clowns.

Politics: Why the health care bill won't be repealed (basically all of it is popular), an article on the downside of diversity, an article on the reaction to deadly airline terrorism before 9/11, an article on pilot unions and airlines.

Food: Making porchetta, omelets inside the egg.

Clothes: A post from the author of Dresden Codak on costume and character, a talk about fashion and free culture, more than you ever wanted to know about men's dress shoes.

Other Interesting: Augmented reality for the colorblind, The World's Greatest Drunk, a psychological history of David Foster Wallace, translating early modern philosophy texts from English to English, a video asking "what do sex workers want their significant others to know?" (produced by Scarlet Alliance, a sex workers' rights organization in Australia).

Finally: Denki Groove's latest video, Fake It!
l33tminion: (DDSR)
Life still crazy.

Last weekend was craft fairs and shoe shopping (new sneakers, boots and dress shoes that fit). (Still up: Custom-fit shirts, a pair of actually-high-quality dress shoes. Want some IC Berlin glasses, too, but those are incredibly expensive.)

Went to a Hanukkah party at Harvard Square and another with extended family.

Monday night, I saw Matisyahu in concert thanks to Michelle (not the Michelle I met at dancing, DJ's new girlfriend). Sadly, she got sick at the last moment and was unable to attend, but she still managed to smuggle a ticket out to me.

Meanwhile, politics has gotten incredibly depressing with Obama's capitulation on taxes. Guess 2012 is the time to find somebody else. This whole "surely we can find middle ground" strategy was worth a try, I thought the country might be ready for it in 2008, but clearly that's not how it's turned out.

The new proposed plan:
1. Bush's tax cuts extended for all income under $250k.
2. An extension to unemployment insurance for one year.
3. An extension to just the tax cuts for the over-$250k bracket for two years.
4. A 2% reduction in the the payroll tax for two years.
5. Estate tax at 35% with $5M exempt for two years. (Lowest rate in American history, save for the missed year of 2010.)

1 and 2 are necessary. But would the Republican's really have held back on 2? Unemployment insurance is a horribly socialist program until it's your constituents, and there are still something like four job-seekers for every job opening. I'd guess the Republicans would have tried to let all the tax cuts expire and blame it on the Democrats, but I think you could get enough votes on just 1, too.

Obama seems to be under the mistaken impression that 3 will be easier to deal with when the middle-class tax cuts are not "held hostage", but that's not going to be the case. Republicans will bring out the same "class warfare" rhetoric. A temporary extension just turns the Bush tax cuts from two political victories for the Republicans into three, at the expense of a rising deficit that will not be forgotten as soon as the compromise is passed and the spending-cut axes come out.

4 has the same problem. In two years, the Republicans will propose an extension and the Democrats will be left trying to defend a "tax raise". No amount of "we said it would be temporary" will help them. And where will the aforementioned axes be aimed again? Oh, right.

5 is a bad idea, too, but honestly, I hardly care at that point. The top marginal tax rate affects how much companies need to spend to increase the income of the highest-paid employees. Decreasing the highest marginal tax rate increases the marginal benefit to companies of increasing executive compensation relative to anything else. Yes, not letting hereditary dynasties accumulate vast amounts of wealth without check is part of the American tradition, and a low estate tax doesn't exactly help with the deficit situation, but at least that doesn't do so much damage to the rest of the economy.
l33tminion: (Default)
I enjoyed my trip to DC last weekend. The rally was fun. Didn't get the best view of the show, but really enjoyed the musical act and the crowd was great. Went to the Reddit after-party, visited HacDC (a local hackerspace), caught up with several Olin friends and a few cousins, had some great food, and bought a cool hat.

Results of the elections this week were pretty much predictable. Republicans took the House (by a lot) but not (quite) the Senate. Most of the Tea Party candidates won their races, but Christine O'Donnell was still a bit too crazy to get elected. Her concession speech is worth reading, though. Its message of "I lost but the Tea Party won" is pretty much right on the money. The Tea Party has thus far avoided splitting the Republican Party because its attempts to take over the party have been successful enough. Expect all of the Republican primaries in 2012 to be exceptionally interesting.

In California, Prop 19 was defeated (unfortunately) but so was Prop 23 (fortunately). Washington adopted a supermajority requirement for tax increases and lowered their state debt limits, while California removed their supermajority requirement for passing a budget. A reworded fetal personhood amendment failed in Colorado (by 70%, a version that said "from fertilization" failed by 73% in 2008). In Massachusetts, Questions 2 and 3 were defeated, but 1 passed, restoring the sales tax exemption for alcoholic drinks.

Expect some political trickery during the lame duck session of Congress. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to push through something related to the current foreclosures crisis.

Saw the Dresden Dolls in concert on Tuesday, which was incredibly awesome. The opening bands ("Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band" and "Hooray for Earth") were very good, too.
l33tminion: (Junpei)
A few things from the past few weeks:

Saw Amanda Palmer in concert with Bitter Ruin and Zoe Boekbinder at the Oberon.

Read a lot from the blog Unqualified Reservations (and wrote a bit about it).

Saw the Columbus Day Parade / Octoberfest / the second day of HONK!* with Julia, then some of the same festivities with DJ, then classy times at Newtowne Grill with Jess.

Watched The Room with / at the urging of Jess. It is a terrible, terrible, movie that no one should be subjected to.

The CEO of Google came to speak at our company today.

* Quite fun, but extremely Harvidian in a way that would almost certainly make Mr. Moldbug break out in hives.
l33tminion: (Default)
The past week has been pretty good. Bouldering (still stuck mostly at v0+), dancing (Squares!), crazy-hard endurance circuits. Electric Six concert last Thursday, and have a date this Thursday with Jess, who I met at the concert. Went to the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo on Saturday (local opening band Mighty Tiny also worth a listen), went to Psyforia/FWD Saturday night, enjoyed the late-night walk home. Sunday was epic: Brunch at Neighborhood, hanging with Ames and Owen, watching Catfish with Film Club (highly recommend that movie, though it was highly (intentionally?) mis-advertised).

I ordered all of Scott Pilgrim when it was heavily discounted on Amazon (got the entire series for ~$25 shipped free via subspace highway). Opened that package this morning, am already at the end of Volume 4.

I will be in DC for the rally October 30, plans have been made.
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