zen.org Communal Weblog

June 14, 2005

32bit or 64bit

Filed under: — Sven @ 08:00 GMT

Does anybody know it the Intel Mac will be 32bit or 64bit?

While I haven’t spent a lot of time looking, I have spend a little time with no luck. Maybe I just don’t know how to look for Mac informaiton. According to the June 11 User Friendly strip: “AAAAAAAAAARRRRRGH!! APPLE IS MOVING TO X86 ARCHITECTURE!!”, but I’m not sure if that is a valid information source.

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June 13, 2005

Update: Visa Hell

Filed under: — elana @ 17:30 GMT

Well, Thursday afternoon, Magda returned home to her passport waiting in the overnight package (that she had to provide to the Embassy). In it was her visa!!!! And not for the three months we were told. She has a 6 month visa, good til the beginning of December! She’s trying to figure out what she’s going to do right now, but has to put it all in teh back of her mind cause she has a big exam next week. Whoo hoo!!

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An odd turn of words: very politically incorrect

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:00 GMT

I just received my daily OED etymology fix:

welk: To lose freshness or greenness; to become flaccid or dry; to wilt, wither, fade.

I thought of only one thing: Lawrence Welk, when I was growing up. Certainly seems to match…

P.S. Definition is of course Copyright © Oxford University Press 2004.

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June 8, 2005

Cherry Grove Organic Farm

Filed under: — Sven @ 11:14 GMT

Last February I gave a local farm, Cherry Grove Organic Farm of Lawrenceville New Jersey, a few hundrad bucks for weekly dips into there harvest. Yesterday was the first pickup day. The first thing I noticed when I pulled up was a car with a Dennis Kucinich for President bumper sticker, I was pretty sure I was at the type of place I was looking for.

I went through the list of vegetables I was to pick up: spinach, arugula, bok choy, kale, collard greens, and three or four others I forgot by the time I got home! Next time I will take notes. Weekly acces to the herb section, plus pick your own peas! It’s how one should get produce is season, direct from the local farm.

At home, after playing with the baby and rebooting Rerun (sorry about the down time) I cooked and froze the spinach. I’m sure the other leafy greens can be frozen too, but feezing spinach in a know issue with me. After getting my Mother to take a good portion of one of the forgotten salad greens, and Zoë to bed, I sat down with a big bowl of arugula salad. I’m not a big fan of arugla, but it was the best argula I’ve ever had.

I wonder what’s in store for next week.

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Visa Hell

Filed under: — elana @ 07:44 GMT

I cannot believe the disgust I have for the US Government right now.

Magda wants to come to the states, and we’d love for her to visit us. So she’s coming in late summer. We jumped through the hoops to get the forms she needed and photos and the 80 euros for the tourist visa (80 FREAKING EUROS!?). She got an appointment at the embassy. And I went with her, cause if she’s gonna be staying with us, I thought I should be there.

Now, I’ve heard stories about the embassy, but I thought they’d be decent to someone who wanted to come, spend their hard-earned money, and experience the land of milk and honey, then go home and not suck up valuable tax dollars by trying to claim welfare. Apparently, I was wrong.

The clerk who helped us (after we waited 45 minutes after our ‘appointment’) was one of the rudest men I think I have ever come across. He actually said that they needed to assume that everyone who is coming to the states is trying to sneak in and live there. No, he really said that. Basically, since Magda is a student and is young and from Poland (and living in Ireland), he thinks she doesn’t have good enough family ties (FFS, she lives with her dad and brother and boyfriend) and if she was married it would be better. He didn’t talk loud enough to hear him all the time through the bulletproof glass of the counter (after having to go through a security checkpoint to even get into the ‘complex’, including no keys or mobiles, and the security guard checking my travel mug of tea), which was a problem for both Magda and I. Things he didn’t like about Magda:

She was young
She was Polish
Her family situation (ie dad is a carpenter not “someone who works at IBM”)
Unmarried
Student (not working)

I can see how that would be an issue. No, really. But the rudeness, and the attitude, MAN. I just can’t get how ANYONE would want to go to the states after that fun. And then we still have to deal with immigration in Shannon (or whereever she flies from). Argh.

I am embarassed that the US would treat someone that way. No matter who they were. I can now understand why people do what they do. I read recently that the US is like a drunk waving a gun around in a bar. No one’s going to mess with him, but once he passes out or drops the gun, his ass will be handed to him on a platter.

Never before had I thought about revoking my US citizenship. Now, I wonder. I’m disgusted by the comments the man made, and the assumptions.

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Help the culture of poverty — for $400

Filed under: — brendan @ 02:53 GMT

I got a spam about a training kit (DVD, guide, and audio tape) for how to teach kids in cultures of poverty. Then in big letters in the middle of the message it told me if I ordered it soon it would save me $40, at only $355.00!

A 5-hour expert training session on learning to teach kids in impoverished nations is probably worth the money, but the paradox of spending nearly $400 to figure out how to help those in need cracked me up. Put on top of this how under-funded many schools are, regardless of the country they’re in, and you wonder where the money could come from. Certainly not most teachers’ salaries.

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June 6, 2005

MythTV can now play both MPEGs and AVIs — and our DVDs, too

Filed under: — brendan @ 04:19 GMT

After a little effort, our box can now play MPEGs properly! Until now there was always a problem with them: audio was never in sync with video, making it unusable. AVIs were fine, but MPEGs divided up between the Hauppauge PVR-350 card for video and our normal audio out. After I’d seen others make mention of using xine for MythTV, I thought I’d finally give it a shot. (I’ve used xine and VideoLAN, aka VLC, for playing mpegs under Linux, but not yet like this.) In only a few steps, it worked!

I first had to download xine itself, and use

rpm -Uvh libxine1-1.0.1cvs-050527.i686.rpm xine-ui-0.99.3cvs-050603.i586.rpm

to install the packages; those copies are regular nightly builds. In the MythTV front-end, I went through Setup to Video to Player Settings, and changed it from running mplayer to instead do

xine -pfhq --no-splash --audio-driver oss %s

Next, I created the ~/.xine directory and put these lines into the file ~/.xine/config:

audio.volume.mixer_volume:60
audio.synchronization.force_rate:44100
audio.device.alsa_front_device:default

Those values came from a forum or blog post somewhere, but I never wrote down the origin and Google doesn’t appear to have it. I’ll certainly attribute them to the source once I find out who it was. 🙂 The config file will be used by xine, and those values will get pulled in then included in the auto-generated version that xine saves back out to the file.

Finally, to make xine honor commands from the remote control I had to edit ~/.mythtv/lircrc and insert the xine entries from Peter Baumgartner’s blog. His are based on Jarod Wilson’s guide, with additions for xine. Continuing the trend, I adjusted mine to have the Stop button actually exit xine, not just stop it and show the xine banner:

begin
prog = xine
button = STOP
repeat = 3
# instead, make this quit
#config = Stop
config = Quit
end

I just had to restart the MythTV front-end (using the green button), and voila! I could use a .mpg file and it plays it all correctly; open up any part of a ripped DVD, and it looks right. Yahoo! Big step.

Now we can play Letter Factory™ for Patrick any time we want since we’ve got it ripped onto the box’s hard drive, instead of worrying about putting in the DVD all the time. 🙂 See? It just calls for the right motivation…

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June 4, 2005

Patrick's first joke

Filed under: — brendan @ 09:35 GMT

During lunch, three year-old Patrick posed a new question. “Want to hear a joke, Dad?”

“Sure!”

“Okay,” he said with obvious build-up, “why does a bee like to go into a drink?” His eyes glittered with anticipation.

“Umm, because they’re thirsty?”

“No!” he announced. “Because it turns green!!” A grin and giggling followed the punch line.

I didn’t get it, and if pressed (why you’d do this I don’t know) he probably didn’t either. But that doesn’t matter—his brain has recently processed the proper telling of a joke. Synapses continue to fire up there in a display as spectacular as fireworks over Boston on the Fourth of July.

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June 3, 2005

Food dislikes

Filed under: — elana @ 03:21 GMT

Sometimes I wonder while I work on this cookbook..how can I be a good cook if I don’t like certain things? Like blue cheese. Hate it. Bitter herbs and veggies. Hate ’em. Most nuts…really not a nut person. But how can I be objective in creating food if I don’t like some food? And my own food allergies cause me to not be able to use some foods in the recipes. It’s an odd thing. I can create something, but I can’t taste it. Durn.

Just a brain dump :-).

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June 2, 2005

Migraine in my brain

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:05 GMT

Today I experienced (am still, sorta) my first migraine headache. The morning started with a splitting headache. Not enough to incapacitate, though—able to make some muffins for breakfast, make tea, that sort of thing. But after breakfast it started getting worse. The headache became stronger, and then came the nausea. (We’ve ruled out the possibility that I’m pregnant.)

I lost my breakfast and gave up on any chance I’d be able to do anything today other than stay lying down. I took some aspirin, which is supposed to help, but it didn’t make a big difference for me this morning. I dropped some Solpedine this afternoon, which perhaps only coincidentally seems to have reduced some of the throbbing.

Over about 3 hours I nibbled away some toast and drank some water; we figured there’s a chance some kind of dehydration was contibuting to this. Finally after staying in bed for more than 9 hours, it’s subsiding a little. The head still gets an axe crashing through it when I glance too fast in a different direction, or I move in any way that involves my neck muscles working very hard. Weird.

What really helped was being able to listen to a bunch of podcasts on Elana’s iBook. I could just lie on my pillow, my eyes closed and a hand at my left temple, while listening to a variety of podcasts being played by the laptop. It’s quite similar in enjoyment to listening to books on tape. I have Donna Tart’s The Secret History, a long-standing favorite book, on a bunch of tapes. If this pain continues tomorrow, or it recurs soon, maybe I’ll consider using those tapes too.

A guy I worked with many years ago (not that many, but it feels both like 2 days ago and 20 years) regularly had to stay offline from his telecommuting because of intense migraine headaches. Maybe I’ll drop him a note for advice. 🙂

Of course I’m also curious about the role of my recent ophthalmic migraine in all of this. Over the last few years, perhaps every six months or so, I get hit by this funky vision thing where I see this bunch of bring strobing/flashing lights in my peripheral vision. Until now, there’s been no physical headache with it, just the unnverving vision of lights. (Hello X-Files.) But it was at most a week ago that I last had them; now this splitting headache, eyes sensitive to light, and vomiting. Hmm. We’ll see—I’m going to have a doctor make sure the ophthalmic problems aren’t evidence of anything funky with either retina.

I hope this goes away soon! You can only hack on so much code with your eyes closed…

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