l33tminion: (Chaos)
Sandy Island was a good vacation for everyone, but a fantastic vacation for Eris, who was phenomenally excited about both the activities and the food. The weather was beautiful (almost no rain, mild days and cool nights), and she got to spend a lot of time outdoors, mostly with me and Julie and my parents, but also a bit with the Sandy Island staff. While Erica is still too young for the morning children's programs at camp, they added a few hours of "toddler time" for the age bracket starting at 18 months, which Erica just reached this week, featuring playtime on the smaller-scale playground and painting with dot markers at the Little Red Schoolhouse (the building for the little kids' program at camp).

She also enjoyed a few boat rides, a lot of time on the swing and slides, dancing, playing catch (toddler version, sans catching), running all over the main area of camp, all of the food, and a brief dip in the lake with her grandma (briefly, before the chilly water got to be a bit much for her).

I really enjoyed the quality time with family, and was very grateful that we were able to travel with my parents to and from camp as well.

Eristic improvements: Climbing a playground ladder with static support (handrails), sliding down the slide by herself (or with minimal support). Walking up steps with minimal support, walking down steps with minimal static support (as little as a hand flat against a doorframe for balance). Climbing into and down from chairs. Vocabulary continues to expand as well, especially regarding colors (she seems to be more adept with toys that involve color-matching).
l33tminion: (Overwork)
Last week was pretty quiet. This past weekend, too. Though we did go out for soup dumplings with Ingress friends on Sunday.

Julie's startup-founding work continues to progress.

It's the turn of the quarter, so a lot of reflection and planning at work. Things ebb and flow. First quarter was pretty great, this quarter was all right. But I'm excited about the next. For some reason, I'm at least briefly in charge of planning the quarterly goals for my group, which is an interesting opportunity (though I wish some of the related deadlines had been a little better communicated).

I want to get back to writing on my essay blog at some point, but my writing is very slow even for lighter stuff like this.

What else? My parents will be in Boston later this week, and we're going up to Sandy Island Camp next week. That should be fun. Haven't picked out which books I'll bring yet, but I certainly have a lot on my queue.
l33tminion: (HHGTG Stub)
Unlike previous years, this year's trip to Sandy Island Camp wasn't a digital hiatus. I didn't leave my phone at home this time. For one thing, I wanted to have the camera, and for another, I was driving and wanted to bring the phone for nav. But unless I'm really committed to taking a complete break from the internet (and I wasn't), I won't do it, so I spent a lot of my time at camp listening to podcasts or huddled in the shadow of the internet shed.1

But it did mean a lot of time to relax, particularly as the kid had two grandparents and an aunt who wanted to make the most of quality time. Early on, it was, "Can I watch the baby? Change a diaper? Take her for a walk?" Sure, if you insist! Later in the week, it was more like the kid would just vanish and I'd look up and think, "Where did the baby go?"

Eris is still determinedly working on improving her mobility. This makes her extra interactive, but also extra tired and hungry. Introducing her to new foods is fun, and she eats not nearly as messily as I would have expected. Aside from rice cereal, we've gotten in some banana (her favorite) and plain yogurt (which she also liked).

I did manage to get in a bit of reading at camp (though I notably did not read any books from start to finish):

Piketty's Capital - I started reading this at Sandy last summer, planned to find some time to finish it during the year, and failed to do so. It's pretty interesting, though, as a historical account of the conditions that caused inherited fortunes to dominate the landscape of wealth in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries and why those conditions were notably absent for much of the 20th century. It's also interesting as a bit of futurism that predicts a return to low growth, extreme wealth inequality, a shrinking middle class, and the reemerging dominance of inherited fortunes. The last part, concerning policy recommendations, will be of interest to liberals, horrifying to libertarians, and probably politically infeasible in any case. Still, I agree with Bill Gates that the book is worth your time if you're interested in the topic.

Haidt's The Righteous Mind - Started this book some time before camp. This book's subtitle "Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion" promises more than the book delivers, and Haidt has blind-spots you could drive a truck through, and for all that he notes that he's a former liberal, Haidt seems to think that some of the moral intuitions he cites are absent from liberal politics instead of employed in different ways. Still, it's not bad as a pop-science book about moral psychology.

(If the author's name sounds familiar, Haidt has most recently gotten a lot of attention for writing conservative "what's wrong with the kids these days" think-pieces, including this one in The Atlantic.)

Cities and Space: The Future Use of Urban Land - Started but haven't finished yet. A collection of essays that was a product of an academic symposium, published in 1966. Interesting so far. Notably, it leads off with an essay that predicts the main problem of urban land in the future will be its ever-declining value as transportation and communication costs trend towards zero (the author also predicts that automated freeway navigation systems will allow traffic to flow at 150 mph bumper-to-bumper).

The weather at camp was pleasantly cool, and that continued on our return. (Had to get out a jacket, unusual for July.) Julie's dad was in town for a conference, and that Sunday was my 30th birthday, so we had some fun celebratory meals. Not a bad milestone. I did seem to manage to check all the boxes just in time for the end of my 20s.

Since then, summer has once again turned on the heat.

The handyman is scheduled to do some work on the house related to baby-proofing and climate control, but that's been delayed because he's sick. Hopefully the delay won't be too long.

I've been playing Undertale, which really is as good as people have claimed. And I have played a bit of that new Pokémon game that everyone (kind of shockingly close to literally everyone) is talking about.2

Eristic improvements: Substantial increases in mobility. Maintaining pre-crawling pose, reverse-gear backwards scooting, improved rolling. I'd say the kid is almost to crawling. In fact, she just got in her first bit of what might technically be crawling, which involved taking a lot of wind-up bounces before flinging a leg forward. She's also become more talkative. Definitely making the transition from cooing to babbling, some of her vocalizations are now recognizably featuring syllables and consonants. Some improvements in skill at manipulating objects, particularly those spoons.

1. The camp office, sole source of wifi on the island. There is some cell reception but it's terrible, particularly on T-Mobile.
2. I joked that it turns out that all Ingress needed to be wildly popular was to be combined with the most successful video-game franchise of all time. Of course, that's not really a joke, and it shouldn't really be so surprising that's a winning formula. (Though I do wonder if the game will have staying power, or if its popularity will be a brief fad.)
l33tminion: (HHGTG Stub)
Tomorrow, we're heading off to Sandy Island Camp. The first time I was there, I was two years old, so I guess this is really a generational thing now. Which makes me antsy, I'm not the biggest fan of getting caught up in tradition.

Other things that are different this year: I'll be driving up in a rented car with Julie and Erica, since there's not room for the three of us to travel with mom and dad (they're taking Melissa and Elliott). And it won't be my usual break from the digital realm. I'm bringing my phone this year, since that's my best camera.

I packed far more books than I can hope to read in a week of free time, and it's a small fraction of the books in my queue. But some reading will be good. I'm sure I'll be able to get a break from looking after the kid (Melissa in particular seems thrilled to be getting some quality time with her niece).

This week marked the end of second quarter at work, which meant time to look back at my goals for the past three months. I'm pretty pleased with how things are going. Things have been pretty focused and productive, even with a new routine.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Vacation accomplished!

At Sandy Island Camp, I spent most of the time relaxing and reading and catching up with my parents (neither of my siblings made it this time). I didn't get out on the lake at all. It was beautiful, though, and I enjoyed reading on the beach.

Late in the week, I came down with the worst cold, like an Everlasting Gobstopper of disease, a different flavor every day! (Including some of the worst congestion I've ever had, plus bizarre symptoms like persistent hiccups.) And then Julie also caught it just in time for international travel. Got through it somehow, with a lot of cough drops and mint tea.

(My mom thinks I'm sick all the time now... it's just that when I'm under the weather I tend to take the time to write something in my blog.)

Despite being under the weather, the London trip was certainly fun. Julie's folks put us up in a really nice hotel, and it was good to spend time with family and friends. I enjoyed seeing the niece again, she's going through a shy phase but seems as cheerful as ever. (Hopefully we avoided this cold jumping to her or anyone else.) All the adults in the family seem to be spectacularly busy with work, though in a good way. We got in some London tourism that I had little time for on my first conference trip (Tower of London tour, viewed the city from the London Eye, climbed the Monument to the Great Fire, went on a pub crawl, window shopping at Harrods). We even got the chance to catch up with Xave and Sarah on their London sabbatical (in the moments before they headed off for a holiday in France).
l33tminion: (L33t)
Going away for two weeks, starting tomorrow.

The first week I will be at Sandy with my folks and totally offline.

The second week I will be in London.
l33tminion: (Hope)
I'm back, as of earlier this afternoon.

Sandy Island was fun. Read a ton, played quite a few games of cribbage, and took a nice kayak trip around Ragged Island. The weather was unusually good this summer, mild days and comfortable nights most of the week. On Thursday night, Hurricane Arthur brought in intense thunderstorms followed by at least thirty hours of continuous rain.

The island had an unusually high deer population this year. Normally if there are deer on the island, they try to stay out of sight, but this year they were grazing on the ball field during the day and foraging near the cabins at night. Lots of ducks, too, though no groups of ducklings yet this time. Also seemed to be an unusual number of spiders. Saw the biggest spider I've ever seen at camp and chased it out of my cabin; I think it was a male tan jumping spider from its huge size, kind-of-tarantula-like appearance, and alarming jumping ability. And watched a smaller spider (some sort of orb-weaver, probably) in the process of constructing a large spoke-and-wheel style web. Always cool to watch something small build big structures.

It was nice to have some time with my folks and some vacation with Julie. Unfortunately, my siblings were both away from Sandy this year. My sister was busy, and my brother was not feeling up for the road-trip. I hope they'll be able to make the vacation at some point in future years.

Enjoying the weekend, looking forward to my return to work.

Back Later

Jun. 27th, 2014 10:54 pm
l33tminion: (L33t)
Week of July 4, so I'm disappearing for a week starting tomorrow. Off to Sandy Island Camp with Julie and my folks. See you later!
l33tminion: (L33t)
I'm back from camp!

My week away from everything was very relaxing. Mainly, I did a lot of reading. My reading list:
  • VALIS by Phillip K Dick: Phillip K Dick's book about how Phillip K Dick is crazy
  • REAMDE by Neal Stephenson: My one Neal Stephenson book per year, a pretty quick read for a thousand page book
  • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson: Weird-topian sci-fi, good, very strange
  • Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber: Fascinating economic history, really cuts to the heart of some of what's wrong about modern economics
  • Cooked by Michael Pollan: Not as good as The Omnivore's Dilemma, but if you liked that you'll probably like this as well
  • The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi: Dystopian biopunk novel, suspenseful, clever, and disturbing
I also spent some time watching the wildlife (unusually bold deer, a mother duck herding a dozen ducklings, a very angry sparrow attacking a fleeing squirrel), went on a shopping trip to Wolfeboro, played cribbage, and had some long conversations with my parents.

I was back from camp last Saturday, and went immediately back to being completely swamped with work and wedding logistics.

It's been good weather for biking, so I've been enjoying my new Hubway membership.

My birthday was yesterday, Julie treated me to a lovely birthday dinner at TW Foods.

Getting married in a month!
l33tminion: (Train)
I've put up some selections from the engagement photoshoot at the beginning of June.

My parents are in town this week, so Julie and I have had a chance to visit family friends with them. Tomorrow, I'm off to Sandy Island Camp with my parents (consequently, I will be offline for a week). Julie is not coming along this year due to insufficient vacation time. It will be odd to be at Sandy with just me and my parents, that hasn't happened since I was very young (not since my sister was born).

I've been incredibly tired this week. Partly due to the weather (though it's fortunately cooled down the last few days). Partly it's that work and wedding planning have been incredibly busy. I'm looking forward to the vacation, plan to relax and read and catch up on sleep.

Thinking about saying something about news / current events / politics, but I'll leave that for when I get back.
l33tminion: (Slacker Revolt)
Sandy was good! Took some classes in the craftshop, enjoyed a shopping trip to Wolfeboro, saw some spectacular fireworks, went on some kayaking adventures, played cribbage, spent time with my family, and read on the beach.

Reading list was relatively short this time:

Lamb by Christopher Moore - Enjoyed it, but maybe Moore's style of humor isn't quite my preference?

The System of the World by Neal Stephenson - What a trilogy the Baroque Cycle was! Amazing stuff, though it took me some time to get through.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami - A simple, existential memoir about art, discipline, and the course of life. Well worth reading, especially if you're a fan of Murakami (and especially if you like his more contemplative stuff, like After Dark (which I read at Sandy last year)).


Also, today is my birthday. It's been a good year, and I'm looking forward to the next.
l33tminion: (Hope)
My family was in town this week (minus my sister, who's once again counseloring at Centauri). This coming week, we'll be at Sandy Island Camp (25th year for my folks, 22nd for me (missed one for Israel, one for Japan, and one for a summer job)). This year, Julie will be joining us, too. *excitement*

Per my usual, I'm leaving my computer and phone at home and will be taking it easy and enjoying the lovely scenery and reading a ton. I'll be offline from tomorrow (June 30) to July 7.

Also looking forward to lots of kayaking, if the weather stays good.
l33tminion: (Default)
I should be asleep, but it is hot and muggy here, so a quick post while the air conditioner labors to cool my room off.

Sandy Island was awesome: Lengthy conversations with my family (save for Melissa, who was off to London, though I got to see her a bit in Boston before), watching the ducks (so many ducklings this year, also unusually old ducklings; wonder what made this a particularly early and prolific season) and other wildlife (several loons nesting near the island, which is unusual), a bit of swimming and kayaking, some crafts, movies, dancing, touristing, a ton of reading.

The reading list for this year:

The Transparent Society - The basic argument (that enforced mutual transparency is a superior solution to the sort of problem that could (allegedly) be solved by regulation or technology that enforces the bounds of privacy or secrecy) is interesting, but this book probably is far longer than necessary to express that argument. Read it or not.

The Confusion - Great, but made all the more confusing by the fact that it's a sequel to another 800-page book that I read a full year ago and consequently remember very little of. Still, great.

Postsingular - I do love stories about crazy post-singularity futures, but Accelerando was much better.

Yes Means Yes! - While this collection of essays is by no means a comprehensive overview of modern egalitarian (fourth wave?) feminism, it's definitely a must-read.

Feel-Bad Education - Read Punished by Rewards instead.

After Dark - A quick and compelling read. Not as good as some of Murakami's more involved novels (e.g. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), but still great. I'd also bet this story (2004) is one of the influences for the story and setting of Persona 4 (2008), though can't find any reference to the devs mentioning it.

After I got home: Saw Page One with Julia (interesting documentary, interesting in particular given my new employer), finished Red Dead Redemption (the ending is great, Rockstar really does westerns well), finished watching [C] (global economic crisis, the anime; wouldn't really recommend it to those who aren't already anime fans, but worth a watch if you like the particular genre conventions of the show).
l33tminion: (Default)
I'll be gone from internet and phone contact while I'm at Sandy Island Camp from tomorrow morning until I get back on Saturday, July 9.
l33tminion: (Default)
Sandy Island Camp was great. Spent time with my family, got in a bit of boating, hiked up Mt. Major, watched ducks raise the latest batches of ducklings, was surprised by daddy longlegs who mistook me for part of the terrain. No photos this time, since I didn't bring my phone. (Considered pulling my digital camera out of storage and bringing that, but decided not to bother.) Got a bunch of reading done:
Earth by David Brin (which I'd read a bit of before camp)
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
The Holocaust Industry by Norman Finkelstein
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (most of it, anyways, still have about 80 pages to finish)

Spent yesterday with Uncle Max and Aunt Anita Uncle Fred and Aunt Shirley in their lakeside home. Was a mostly uneventful birthday. Except for the torrential downpour that hit as we were leaving camp, which left our suitcases soaked (fortunately my books weren't too badly damaged, just a little damp around the edges). Evidently, the same storm left large parts of Cambridge underwater.

Today, went to game afternoon at Eddie's. Was fun. Nearly nine hours went by like lightning, almost won a game of Power Grid my first time playing it and played a game of Innovation (like Fluxx meets Civilization, awesome though confusing).
l33tminion: (L33t zombie)
Will be totally off the internet for the next week, since I'll be at Sandy Island. Have packed far more reading material than I can possibly get through, especially since that includes my one 1000-page Neil Stephenson book per year. Very much looking forward to this, except the part where I have to wake up before 7 tomorrow.
l33tminion: (Default)
Camp was extraordinarily relaxing. Spent most of the time reading, did a bit of yoga, walked around the island, and had long conversations with my family. After camp, we had lunch in Concord, NH, and I took the bus home to Boston in time for karaoke (and a jaunt to the Sunset afterwards). The weather continued to be poor: All the nights were cold, and half the days were rainy (Saturday was rainy, rain let up on Saturday in time for fireworks, but returned Monday night and didn't stop until Thursday). It was cold enough that I didn't do any swimming or boating all week, which hasn't happened before. Only one person commented on my improved fitness, but basically everyone mistook me for my younger brother (which, given that the guy is much thinner than me, is good enough, I suppose).

Reading list wasn't nearly as long as last time because my second selection was a really long book:
Reinventing Collapse by Dimitri Orlov
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams
2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck

I am now mostly resynched with real life except for a ton of podcasts that I have yet to catch up on.
l33tminion: (Default)
From next Saturday to the following Saturday, I will be at Sandy Island Camp with my family, and consequently offline and out of contact. Hopefully my schedule will be a bit more sane after I get home.

Unwinding

Jul. 6th, 2008 12:26 pm
l33tminion: (Default)
I'm back from camp, and back online. Camp was much as I remembered it, with the exception of the food, which wasn't as good (trying to cut expenses, I guess). There was more rain than usual, but when it wasn't raining, the weather was amazing. I got in some kayaking, a bit of swimming, some quality time with my family (including some exciting chess games with Solomon), and a lot of reading. Took quite a few photos, too, which I'll post later. Not extremely eventful, but very relaxing.

Reading List )

Saturday evening I spent with friends in town: DJ, Ginneh (back from California), and Aasted. We went to see Hancock (better than expected, with parts of the plot genuinely surprising, a sort of meta-surprise), then to the Sunset Grill and Tap. I was hungry enough to look at the food menu this time, and the selection there is as impressive as their selection of drinks. At Aasted's suggestion, I tried their peanut butter and jelly sandwich (billed as the peanut butter and jelly "experience", on Texas toast with honeyed fresh-ground peanut butter and strawberry preserves). It is indeed quite something, taste-wise, although I would have preferred the toast crisper; the sandwich seems ideally calibrated for those who like their peanut butter sandwiches soft and messy. I also had a "flight" of beer, four different choices from their interesting selection in five-ounce tasting glasses. Was a wonderful evening.
l33tminion: (Default)
I went to the Boston Lisp Meetup on Wednesday, which was pretty good. The main talk was on implementing run-time contracts (type-checking or otherwise) in Scheme, a necessary component in a system that uses partially typed Scheme (PDF). In particular, it covered the tricky problem of implementing run-time type contracts for parametric polymorphic functions.

On a diametrically opposed note, I'm going to Sandy Island Camp on Lake Winnipesaukee (map) with my family all of next week (Saturday to Saturday), which means I'll be without phone, computer, and internet. That bit makes me grimace, but I'm still very much looking forward to it, and I'm sure the periodic detox is good for me in the long run.
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