June 2003

Reloaded three times

by Michael Alderete on 6/30/2003

I just went to see The Matrix Reloaded for the third time last night, which will seem like a lot of times, especially to those folks who didn’t like it, or the previous movie. But this is entirely defensible.

The first time was the first time. Needed to see it in the theater, had a great time.

The second time was actually free, Rochelle and I just walked into it on a Sunday afternoon, because it started 2 minutes after The Italian Job finished, and we decided to get our money’s worth out of our tickets.

The third time was different. It was amazing. It was in IMAX.

If you haven’t seen The Matrix Reloaded yet, and if it’s playing on an IMAX screen near you, I recommend kicking in the extra $5. Even if you’ve seen the movie already, it’s worth going again. It’s a whole new experience, totally worth the extra money. There’s just way more detail up on the screen, and it makes the movie that much more “real.”

I may need to Reload again.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Costa Rica, LA photos online

by Michael Alderete on 6/25/2003

Photos of our trips to Costa Rica (end of May) and Los Angeles (last weekend) are now online. There’s commentary along with the photos, or at least a few of them. Rochelle is writing more, to be published very soon.

A word about loading the photos. It’s slow, because there are no thumbnails, so each page loads every photo at full size, and because it’s all loading over my DSL line, which runs at 192Kbps for uploads. But once the page loads, clicking on individual photos should be very quick, almost instantaneous.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

A backup a day is all I ask

by Michael Alderete on 6/19/2003

I was once again reminded of the value of a good backup strategy last night, when Eudora crashed, and corrupted my e-mail Inbox. Almost 700 messages, most not yet responded to or handled, wiped out. No matter what Eudora tries to tell you, rebuilding the table of contents for a mailbox is not always what you want.

But recovery was easy. I fired up Retrospect (backup software I have used for nearly 10 years), located my Inbox in the list of files backed up, and recovered it. Fired up Eudora again, and I was good to go.

I lost a few messages, but only a few. I do a full-system backup once a day, in the middle of the night. Most of the messages that came in after the backup were spam, and I was able to recover the 6 messages that mattered by pulling them out of the corrupted mailbox.

I started doing daily backups about 7 years ago, when my hard disk died, and took everything with it. I had a backup that was a year old, which kept me from crying like a little baby, but I was still really pissed. In the end, that disk crash killed my use of Quicken, because I never managed to get caught up on the data entry.

Anyway, if you depend on a computer, you should make a daily backup. Buy a big tape drive, and use it every day. A good one that can back up an entire 80 gigabyte hard disk runs around $1000 these days, but that is peanuts compared to the cost of losing everything that’s stored on the disk. I know this from painful personal experience. My tape drives have saved me serious grief — problems that would be otherwise unrecoverable — at least a dozen times, making the cost-per-incident under $100. Peanuts.

Get yourself a good backup strategy, today.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Quotation of the year candidate

by Michael Alderete on 6/19/2003

From the ever-quotable JLG:

“The Tax Code: the statement of our true values.”

Especially apropos with the permanent repeal of the inheritance tax currently on the legislative agenda. (This is the bill that will let the wealthiest 2% keep the all money in the family when they die, instead of just most of it.)

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Quotation of the year candidate

by Michael Alderete on 6/14/2003

Heard in Costa Rica, as someone summarized their late night

“Coke ‘til two, sex ‘til four.”

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Ph.D. exams completed with flying colors

by Michael Alderete on 6/8/2003

As I described prior to our vacation, Rochelle and I have been working hard on our Ph.D. (in tequila), and had planned to take our final exam this past Sunday (June 1st). I’m pleased to report that we passed with flying colors.

The exam is a serious one — maybe not as tough as a real Ph.D. orals exam, but certainly equivalent of a college undergraduate final exam. 70 questions, multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank; you must finish in 20 minutes, taking it at the bar, with the other patrons chanting at you.

Many of the questions are trick questions, and require you to know, for example, the difference between Herradura Silver and Herradura Blanco (at most distilleries, they are one and the same). No one has ever scored a 100% on the exam, and only one person has missed only one question. I missed two questions, and Rochelle missed three.

We studied hard for this exam. We bought two very good books on tequila, and read both (and you should see Rochelle’s color-coded page tabs!). Julio provides study material, and Rochelle and I each created a set of flash cards to study it. Although we didn’t do as much studying while we were on vacation as we had planned, it was basically all we did on Saturday and Sunday prior to taking the exam. We knew our flash cards cold, and the couple of the questions that were not in the study materials were either in the book, or had so annoyed our friend David (who took the text a couple months ago) that he kept repeating them, over and over, whenever he talked about his Ph.D. (quick, what was the original logo for Patrón tequila?).

We did end up taking the exam with a handicap. You only qualify to take the exam when you’ve completed your Ph.D. tasting card, which requires you to sample 35 100% blue agave tequilas while at Tommy’s (and you cannot sample more than three in a single visit). Before our vacation I was two visits away from finishing, and Rochelle was one. We had intended to go once before our trip, so that Rochelle could be done, and I would only have to have two tequilas before taking the test.

Well, we never made it there, and an hour before we headed to Tommy’s for the exam, we realized that Rochelle needed to drink two cocktails before taking her exam — and I had to drink five. That’s 10 ounces of tequila, folks.

Fortunately, we had three hours at the bar before we took the test, and Julio let me start the exam once my fifth cocktail was poured (so I had only drunk four), but even so, I was not even close to sober. So I suppose the fact that I didn’t remember the town where Chinaco tequila is made can be excused.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

When will I ever learn?

by Michael Alderete on 6/6/2003

OK, fair warning, this is a cat poo story.

Read the rest of this entry (233 words) »

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Toxic duty

by Michael Alderete on 6/5/2003

I wrote this posting at the beginning of January, but never made it live, by accident. It’s still a good post, so I thought I’d make it live now. Especially since I want to make a follow-up post to it. (Hold your noses!)

Ever since Cecil died, Basta has been getting more and more bold, and taken more and more of the house away from Billie, to the point where Billie can only count on being safe under our bed, or on our shoulders.

So we got a new cat, the week before Xmas. Luigi is a 3-year old male, black and white shorthair, with a really sweet, cuddly, docile temperment. We adopted him to be pals with Billie, which will hopefully tilt the balance of power in the house somewhere back towards even. So far they’re not quite buddies, but at least Billie has stopped hissing whenever he looks in her direction.

Luigi has a serious problem, though, something not disclosed to us when we adopted him. A lesser household might have shipped him back to animal control, a virtual death sentence. There’s no way to say this nice: Luigi has toxic poo.

The first time he crapped, Rochelle and I were sitting in bed, watching TV. At first, we were “What’s that?”, followed closely by “Eeeewww, open the window!” The smell continued to grow, and opening the window and holding the bedsheets over our noses still wasn’t enough, so Rochelle braved the stench, and ran the litterbox to the kitchen, and came back and lit a scented candle. That solved the immediate problem, but later we discovered that the kitchen reeked, and Rochelle retched.

The next time Luigi did his business in the box off the bedroom, we sprang into action immediately. I grabbed the box and took it into the hall, and scooped the offending material into a plastic bag, while Rochelle opened the window and lit the candle again. It worked reasonably well, and that has been our routine about every 20 hours.

This morning it happened around 6am. I was barely awake, and Rochelle was asleep. I decided I was too tired to get up, and simply put my head under the bedcovers, with the intent that if it woke Rochelle up, we’d handle it then.

Well, not only did it wake Rochelle up about 10 minutes later, but the odor was so powerful that before waking she dreamed that Luigi had pooped, woke up grateful that it had only been a dream, and then shreaked when she took a good whiff and realized it was real.

Our vet tells us that there’s nothing obviously wrong with Luigi, or his poop, which was tested earlier today. But it’s definitely one of the more fragrant samples they’ve encountered, and they don’t believe it can be normal, so Luigi will be getting general antibiotics later today.

Please, god, let that take care of the problem!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

BeOS is the new Amiga

June 4, 2003

I hate to say this about something I once loved, but the BeOS — or more accurately, the community that is still around it — is becoming the Millennial version of the Amiga.

Read the full article →

A comedy of errors

June 3, 2003

Rochelle and I have great fun with each other while on vacations, but we don’t always travel well together. Our trip to Costa Rica was a textbook example. The passport problem was just the beginning of our troubles.

Read the full article →