First ASA MVP class this month.


Today was the first ASA MVP class of the month for us, as G injured his back early last week and was unable to run the class (and inpire! us). Today was an upper body workout. Each exercise itself wasn't too bad, but taken in total, was a hard workout.

jumping jacks warmup
pushups (clapper, incline)
ball traversals
tricep extention w/ weights
chest pass knees, standing, lying down
lat pulldown

Back from L.A.


Returned from Los Angeles today. Specifically, Pasadena. Today is the 34th wedding anniversary of my dear friends, Bob and Suzanne Diller. I had an absolutely wonderful time this weekend, despite sleeping through part of the party and missing out on seeing Wook. Perhaps his being busy with SIGGRAPH this week will mean he won't I missed him.

Lots of interesting things happened on the trip. On the way down Saturday afternoon, about 82 miles north of L.A. (or, at least where the mileage signs say L.A. is), there was a raging fire on the opposite side of the road. It was quite impressive. On the way back, the burned area was significantly less impressive.

I spent time with Bob, Suzanne, and Savita. Eileen, a friend of the three, also spent time with us. We swam in the pool, grilled out (and in), ate leftovers, slept a lot (except Bob), read a bunch, and had a wonderful anniversary picnic. Others at the picnic included Mark Ross (haven't seen him in ages!), Kevin and Pam (with the two boys Alex & Brandon), Lon and Hester Bell (recovering from many international conferences, strange diseases and a new grandchild!), as well as Harold Felton. Apparently I missed Yosufi, Edie, Daniel and Sarah during my very strange Sunday afternoon nap. Boo!

The drive down and back were uneventful, though the drive back had a few harrowing moments (involving slow moving vehicles, asshole drivers and not a few poorly labelled exits). I'm happy to be home, but I'm also very happy I went.

Happy Anniversary, Bob & Suzanne!

Pinky aches


My left pinky hurts. A lot.

I've been spending a lot of time working on a project with Mike Gull the last two days. The project involves, unsurprisingly, a lot of programming. And, since I program in emacs, I've been using a lot of control characters during my editing of files.

Control-x this and Control-s that, and Control-x e this other, followed by Control-x k. Bah. So many control characters!

I think I strained the finger last night when I edited 250+ files with an insert buffer (Control-x g a (that would be buffer a, I'm inserting)), move down a few lines (Control-n a bunch of times), another insert buffer (Control-x g b (that would be the buffer b being used there)), followed by a delete line (Control-k to delete to the end of the line, another Control-k to delete the empty line after it), Control-e to end of a bunch of lines, Control-a to go back to the beginning, Control-f I don't know how many times to move forward a character or two, Control-x Control-s to save the file and finally a Control-x k enter to close the file (or rather, kill the buffer) and stare at the next one.

That, 250 times.

No wonder my left pinky hurts.

My Garden is a wreck.


My garden is a wreck. In so many ways.

I had to cut down my 12' tall sunflower with the 16" seeded head because the friendly neighborhood mice (they could have been rats) decided it was a tasty, tasty treat.

This whole time, I thought it was the racoon that lived down the street (at Mike and Kate's new place. The same one that chased me as I walked around the block. Yeah, that one. But it wasn't. It was mice. They ran along the back fence at night, driving the dogs CRAZY. They'd run into the garden, where the dogs weren't supposed to go, driving them CRAZY. It was a bad situation getting worse.

So, pfft! Down came the lovely sunflowers. I think I'm going to try again in the front yard with those. They are so cool, especially when you use mutant seeds and get double heads, double leaves and gi-normous heads. Whoo!

And then there's the tomatoes. If you don't pluck the suckers off tomatoes vines (suckers are new branches that grow between two other branches), you end up with A LOT of tomato vines. The whole thing bunches up into this tight mess of tomatoes, so that even the dogs can't get through. Blessing, or curse? We have a LOT of tomatoes. More than I can eat, more than Kris and Chris and Warren and Kyle and Mark and I can eat. Lots.

Did I mention the zucchini? I think I did. I have one okay plant, and one killer, poisonous, horrible, awful, BITTER plant. Did I mention the zuccini?

I managed to eat three strawberries over the last month. Annie has gotten the rest. She's also decided to CRAP right in the middle of the three plants, just to mark her territory. I have to fight with the dogs for food from my garden.

The undesirable trees around the garden (the palm tree, the sticky purple-flowering bush, the shrubs I cut down last year) are all taking off and encroaching on the garden. A couple of them are also harboring mice. Ick. Mice.

And then there's the bugs. I have Japanese beetles in my garden. I have earwigs. I had a lot of snails until Kyle cleaned them out of the yard by gathering them up every night for two weeks and throwing them in the trash. Note: the first night, he managed about 8 pounds of snails, followed by 4 pounds, then 2, then successively fewer, until there were no snails in my garden. Ole! Kyle's my hero.

But I still have earwigs and Japanese beetles. Did I mention their grubs? The most DISGUSTING grub EVER. I almost threw up when I saw my first one.

My Italian basil has all flowered. The sweet basil hasn't though. That, I guess is a good thing. The yellow and red pepper plants have been beating up by the dogs running by them that they're on their last stalks. Stupid dogs.

So, the garden is a wreck. A disaster.

I managed a handful of raspberries today, though. Damn, those were tasty. No wonder the dogs like to eat them before I get to them. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

ABCs & Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?



I just realized that the ABC rhythym is the same as the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Actually, I didn't realize. I had to be told it.

Omigod. I am so clueless.

Open source publishing


John Bartlett owns and operates Bartlett Publishing,
which puts out approximately four titles per year in programming,
business, and ... religion. Huh? Those don't go together, do
they? This is the strength of small publishing, to bring together the
disparate genres that make up a particular publisher's passion.

Bartlett is a true believer, in God and Linux. He chose open
source tools because he "believes in free information." He uses the
DocBook DTD,
running the manuscript through OpenJade with a heavily
customized version of Norman Walsh's
. "Using OpenJade and Norman Walsh's stylesheets to
typeset gives me a huge advantage in both costs to produce a book and
time to market. In particular, with DocBook, an index is amazingly
easy to produce," says Bartlett. Post-processing of the PDF is done
with Perl's Text::PDF module
and Adobe
for complex work. A professional graphic artist produces
the cover and Bartlett does post-processing with the GIMP. Finally he uploads the finished
materials to CafePress or LightningSource.

Bartlett's recommendation of the open source tools he uses is
unequivocating. "DocBook makes your book look professional with very
little effort. The combination of DocBook and a good cover artist
gives you very professional results with a minimum of time and money."

John Culleton of Able
Typesetters and Indexers
provides services for small- and
self-publishers with a completely Linux-based workflow using variants
of TeX. First, he keys in and
corrects the source text in Gvim.
Culleton compiles the text to PDF with ConTeXt or pdfTeX and views
the output in Xpdf. He
also uses various other bits and pieces: grep; the Ghostscript ps2ascii

translator; pfaedit (FontForge); PSUtils
for brochures, makeindex
for indices, and some custom macros and scripts. He does image
processing in the GIMP and has recently begun using Scribus for book covers because it
can handle ICC profiles and
produce CMYK output.

Culleton makes two points about the strengths of open source
software. First, "All of these tools are supported by active email
lists. I don't have to call an underpaid clerk.... I
get superior support from users and maintainers of the software." (Ask
any XPress user about Quark's customer support. It's infamous.)
Second, when Donald Knuth backed away from TeX, others picked up the
torch. Development continued and TeX is still going strong.
Meanwhile, in the proprietary world, PageMaker is dying a slow and
painful death and is no longer the behemoth of book production;
FrameMaker has been losing ground as well. Adobe now pushes InDesign.
QuarkXpress went years between updates on the Mac, still
the dominant desktop publishing platform. With proprietary software,
Culleton says, "[You] face the potential discontinuance of the
product, just like users of the once excellent WordPerfect have found
their own purgatory -- the Curse of Corel."

Posted by klsh