Winter in Vermont

Living in Vermont is a certain kind of special. It’s often hard to put my finger on exactly what makes it such a joy to live here, but as a picture is worth a good thousand words or so, may I please present Exhibit A:


Exhibit A

That’s a dog, lying in the middle of the road. He likes to hang out there in the warmer months, usually on the inside of the curve, usually somewhere near that house off in the distance.

As far as I know, nobody’s ever hit the dog, and nobody’s ever complained that a dog shouldn’t be using the warm pavement of the road to warm himself. Interesting.

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Fossetcon was amazing!

Following the LibreOffice Annual Conference in Bern, Switzerland, I headed to Olando, Florida for Fossetcon. This was my first trip to the Sunshine State, and I got a very warm welcome from all of the Fossetcon team.

When I arrived at the airport, Vernon Singleton was kind enough to pick me up and give me a ride over to the Rosen Plaza Hotel. Situated along a strip of various hotels and eateries, the Rosen Plaza was an all-in-one venue, providing lodging, conference space, and a few different dining options. In addition to my regular QA Engineer work, I was spending the week learning how to be the Release Engineer for LibreOffice, so I spent a fair amount of time glued to my computer, but did find time to run out to eat and use the pool.

WARNING: Floridians don’t know what crosswalks are. They will run you over. The same thing will happen in Dallas, TX, and perhaps in any other city in the South. Just wait until there aren’t any cars within a hundred feet or more, and then cross.

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Musings: Crowdsource RECAP of PACER documents for next to nothing

Last night Lawrence Lessig spoke at Dartmouth College about Rebooting our Government. I’ve read Lessig’s articles and listened to his lectures before, and seeing him speak in person was quite a treat.

Lessig’s lecture highlighted his mission to give control of our government back to the people — to the citizens of the US. Fix Congress First is one of the groups encouraging this reform, and I suggest that you go check out their website right now!

Part of giving the Citizenry control is making sure that everyone has free, open access to all of our laws and court case records. Federal court records are in the public domain and are available online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) electronic record system, however access to the PACER system is billed using a per-page rate.

Because the documents in PACER are public domain, once a document is accessed, it may be distributed without restriction or additional fee. As a result, several groups are currently working on opening the vast archive of documents in PACER so that anyone can access any of them, at any time, with no fees or strings attached.
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Back in Portland, if only for a short time

It’s great to be back in Portland (Oregon), if only for a short time. Each year around Christmas I come back and spend the holidays here, soaking up all of the lovely rain and cloudy skies as I expect a native Californian might soak up the sun and warm beaches when returning home on Holiday.

There’s always so much to do and so much to see in Portland. Living in a relatively small community in New England means that coming back to Portland is almost like venturning to a large city. Portland will never be a large city like New York or Boston to me, but there do seem to be new buildings popping up like weeds, and the traffic always seems a bit heavier each year. I say seems as it does seem that way, although I am wary that I might just be wistfully imagining a more perfect past Portland, the way that everything was larger when you were younger and the way that men’s suits, a salesman told me today, always seem to shrink in the closet.

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Giving thanks for friends, puppies, floating, and pie

Wow. It’s been a really long week, but the weekend is just about here.

I saw the notice on the WordPress blog about the “Giving Thanks” contest earlier this week and knew that it was just the right kick-in-the-pants to get me to try out the MiniDV camera that I recently purchased on eBay. So I grabbed a few of my friends, asked them what they’re thankful for, and cut it all together into a short video. Thirty seconds isn’t that much time, especially when your friends are so voluble!

I wasn’t really sure how this film would turn out. I shot a lot of footage, but as I only had 30 seconds for the final cut I had to really pare things down to make sure that I could include a clip of each person.

Filming each person was fun. Pure and simple. Each person had their own unique quirks and mannerisms that really came out when they were put in front of a camera lens. Percy with the sheep, Alex with a ping pong ball, and a highly-caffeinated Nida all presented unique challenges when filming (such as keeping the subject in frame!) and offered not only different answers to “For what are you thankful?”, but even took different approaches to answering the questions.

Okay, enough chatter from me. Here’s the meat of this post, the video:

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Sustainability at DHMC: Reuse those foam plates!

I was in line at the cafeteria last week when someone from one of the other offices in my building said “Oh, when did they start using china in this cafeteria?” I had to politely tell the woman that DHMC was not deploying reusable dishes at all of its cafeterias and that I bring my own plate and just wash it afterwards. “Oh, what a good idea!” she said, “I should bring my own plate sometimes. Washing it off afterwards isn’t too hard.”

Handwashing isn’t that difficult, but washing off all of the dishes in a central location, using an auto dishwasher, would probably save money and water, and would certainly save a time for all of the people working in the building. There would be an initial outlay and ongoing expense to stock the china and deal with breakages and so forth, but it would be a great step for sustainability.
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Outdoor Movies: Kicking it off with “Duel of the Tough”

When was the last time you went to a drive-in?

For me it must have been at least 3 years ago. There’s a drive-in over in Fairlee, VT, and during the summer season they show double features for $8 per person. It’s a lot of fun to pile in a car and head over there, hoping for clear skies.

The Fairlee Drive-in also has a motel, and the rooms are situated such that you can open the curtains on one of the walls and watch the movie. It’s kind of a fun gimmick.

Last night I kicked off my career as a projectionist with the spectacular film Duel of the Tough, originally titled Shen tui mi zong shou. We’d had a BBQ over at my place and Cyrus stayed around to poke at the fire when I had the epiphany that I had finally acquired all of the pieces necessary to project movies outside.
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Oktoberfestivities 2009

Last night was Oktoberfest 2009. We had a lot of tasty food including hendl (chicken, in Bavarian), almonds mit hoenig (I can’t remember the german term for almonds), sausage, mashed potatoes, beer, and just a drop of Jaeger.

Oktoberfest, as I’m sure you all know, is that other fall holiday when guys and girls get to dress up in sexy costumes. Unlike Halloween, Oktoberfest encourages the guys to wear leather shorts, and encourages everyone to dance, drink, and sprechen deutsch. All in all it’s quite a good holiday.

This morning I wrote hijacked a song. Would you like to hear it? Oh, I bet meine lederhosen schwartz you would:

Jaeger-weiss, Jaeger-weiss,
Every morning you talk to me,
Dark and sweet, tastes of deer meat,
Jaegermeister I love thee.

To quote the Black Eyed Peas, “Tonight’s going to be a good, good night.”

Live Blogging: Sykes Free Concert Series

Okay, so I’m going to try out this live blogging thing. No promises.

We’re currently at the Sykes Free Concert at Collis Commonground. This concert is (or perhaps all such concerts are?) funded by Jack Wehner ’74. The concerts are dedicated to Music professor Jim Sykes and his wife Clay.

Tonight we’re hearing music by Boismortier (Concerto), Abreu (Tico tico no fuba), Telemann (Duo), Rossini (Quartet) and Brahms (Sonata for violin and piano). Nothing by our perennial favorite, P.D.Q. Bach. Tsk, tsk.

We’re currently noshing on local cider, apples, bread, cheeses and ice cream.
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M&C Summer 2009: A compostable successable

Milque & Cookies was this past Friday at 9pm and was a resounding success.

Phi Tau took a departure from the normal schedule of Saturday at 8pm due to Sophomore Family Weekend and thus had to forge ahead and bake like crazy on Thursday night. Everything came together marvelously well and a good time was had by all. I mean, who doesn’t want to stuff themselves with milk and tasty, sugary, yummy cookies?

Because I’d acquired compostable cups, we were able to put out compost bins instead of trash cans:
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