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Number 3 BEV Archive Page


For whatever reason, this is the third most popular of the BEV archive pages, after June 2003. I have to confess that I'm curious about this, particularly since many of the readers who get to it don't appear to have visited the BEV Home Page recently.

If you can spare a couple of minutes, please give some feedback - how did you get to this page, and what, if anything, is interesting about it?


Smokers

Smokers

On this day - top of page

31/8/2003 - Fall Tomorrow

Well, another month has flown, or dragged by, depending how you were feeling. With me, it was a bit of both. It will be good for me to get started on something that isn't just my own whim. I need to face and conquer some real difficulties that aren't just to do with a relationship, to have progress and evolution. As I seem to say quite often - we'll see.

We had a quiet day. I wanted breakfast, admittedly late, and eventually had enough confidence in the fridge to buy butter and eggs. I had soft boiled eggs, toast soldiers, and coffee. Terry had Jello (Jelly for the Brits) again. Could this be the new wonder-diet - jello and yesterday's vodka? After breakfast, or more accurately, lunch, I vacillated. There was a half-decent film on the TV, but I couldn't quite settle to it.

Later - say about 4:30pm, I walked on to Spirits, clutching Von Clausewitz's "On War", and in better weather this time. I don't recommend the book as an easy read, but it certainly has some messages. Terry declined the pub, but after I'd done the shopping on my way back, she hailed me from the door of Hooligans. I went in briefly. She's playing pool now, and I'm about to cook - spaghetti Bolognese, salad, and some half decent bread. ET is probably coming to dinner, she likes to eat too. The trick is for me not to get ahead of myself. The rest of the world always arrives late.

ET arrived, with her mother Elizabeth, who's visiting, at about 9:00. If I haven't mentioned it before, ET is German. It was interesting to listen to the two of them speaking. Odd words and phrases that I understood would flash by. The Bolognese seemed to go down well, though I have to say I had indigestion later - possibly the tomato paste was too acidic. I can't think what else - ground beef, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, and pasta. Sounds harmless enough. We watched the first Harry Potter movie (yet again), and the gathering broke up around 12:30. Elizabeth said it all felt very gemütlich. I have a couple of pictures with the three of them on, but they didn't come out well.

On this day in 1994, Russia officially ended its military presence in the former East Germany and the Baltic states after 50 years of dominance. Nothing changes things more inexorably than the passage of time!

The cat doing her impression of a hedgehog

The cat doing her impression of a hedgehog

A wet Saturday

A wet Saturday

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30/8/2003 - Solitude

Terry didn't get to Sandra's until very late - after 2:00am, possibly later. I sat up watching some stupid movie until nearly two, waiting to hear she'd got there. But eventually I gave up and went to bed.

Of course, after going to bed at that time, the street outside was bedlam in the morning. Horns were hooting, dogs barking, it was infested with garbage trucks, and the guys at the laundry next door were outside having an animated conversation. I got up somewhat unwillingly, and bought myself a bacon and egg sandwich at the deli - our fridge still has no contents. It was a beautiful morning, and quite hot. I phoned Sandra, and determined that Terry had eventually arrived, though she was coy about the exact time. Later, I walked down to 79th Street on the shady side of 2nd Ave to pay in some checks. The city was pretty quiet. It's characteristic of long weekends - people visit their relatives out of town, or go on mini-breaks or whatever. This one particularly so since it is generally recognized as marking the end of the summer.

When I got back I attempted to get another hour's sleep, with limited success. I was wakened by ET on the phone looking for Terry. I doodled with Javascript examples on the computer for a while, then showered and dressed. It was about 4:30pm by then, so before anything else I went up to the pet shop to get food for the cat, whose ribs were starting to show ;-) It was raining by then, and the forecast threatened thunderstorms. But it didn't look that way to me - just rain. The cat fed, I walked on to 91st Street, bought a bargain pitcher of Bud, and sat under the awning for an hour watching New Yorkers go about their business in the rain. Then I went to KeyFood and bought myself black beans, frankfurters, and potatoes. I made a casserole. It's one of my favorites when I only have to suit myself - nice and spicy.

At about 9:30 it had stopped raining, so I set out on a reverse river walk. I got pulled in through the pub window by Scott as I passed BJ's, and was fed a couple of Natty Lights and a shot of Makers Mark. Then the group broke up, and I continued my walk. On the way, I phoned Sandra. She said that Terry had left shortly before, and was on her way back. Two barges, pushed by tug boats passed me as I walked by the river. One going downstream was making pretty heavy going against a strong flow tide. The other going up the river was positively speeding along.

It was about 10:30 when I got home. I wasn't going to hold my breath waiting for Terry, so having watched a rather depressing movie for half an hour, I went to bed. Terry arrived at about 2:00.

Tower blocks at night

Tower blocks at night

29/8/2003 - No Expectations

Today I will expect nothing - that way I won't get disappointed. Other than that, it's set to be a clone of yesterday. Terry varied it slightly by having a pot of Jell instead of a bagel. At about noon, we got a call to say the fridge replacement would arrive between 1:00pm and 3:00pm - yeah, OK, I'll believe it when I see it.

The little computer surprise for the day was that the hit counter on Brits Eye View stopped working properly. It's not supposed to count hits from my machine, since I hit it pretty often in the course of maintaining it, and I don't want to know about those hits. This trick is done with a cookie, but for some reason I've had cookie problems lately. For example my machine forgot the cookie I need for online bank account access the other day, and I had to start from scratch. It's probably the result of one of those gratuitous operating system updates that Microsoft pushes out all the time. I recreated the cookie, and it seems to be OK now.

Two o'clock, and lo and behold, we have a replacement fridge, which seems to be getting cold. Let's hope this is a good omen. The Bangalore news didn't work out quite that well, but it's not negative. I have to go and see them on Tuesday to look at an agreement. I was hoping I'd see that today - ah well.

Terry is going to help Sandra again for a day, so we'll probably eat something inexpensive at BJ's, and she'll go straight on from there.

Hey, I just found something on the BBC web site. It's a Black-Adder quote generator. Check it out, it's hillarious if you can relate to a British sense of humor.

On this day - top of page

Does this mean keep right?

Does this mean keep right?

On this day - top of page

28/8/2003 - Today's the Day

OK, today a replacement fridge is due to arrive, and there should be progress on the Bangalore front. So we're pretty much tied to the house. Since we don't have butter, I pop out in the morning to get bagels from the shop on 2nd. This is a proper bagel shop, with all 57 varieties. I get a cinnamon-raisin with butter, and Terry has an onion with cream cheese - very New York.

That over, I started fiddling with some examples to investigate the object-oriented features of Javascript. I'd downloaded and built the Spidermonkey Javascript engine from mozilla.org, and found quite a good article. Nothing worked. I couldn't get past square one. The interpreter kept telling me variables were undefined. The way it is, you know from experience that it's usually you who's doing something stupid, so you press on trying to get it right. After some time I tried the debug version of the engine. This worked perfectly. I rebuilt the release version of the engine without optimization - no problem. So it's one of those pernicious cases where the optimizer is getting it wrong. This doesn't happen often, but when it does it can be the devil to find what's wrong. I did some work to determine where it was failing, and now I could submit a pretty good bug report, but I can't for the life of me find where to send it. I'll try again tomorrow.

By now, it's about four - no fridge, no Bangalore news. We'd had a message about three that the fridge would arrive between noon and five. I waited until about 5:20. Dinner tonight was catfish and carrots in a lightly spiced cheese sauce, and garlic mashed potatoes. Yummy!

This evening I was Steve 'two-walks' Teale. I went for my evening walk at about 10:15, then when I got back Terry had decided she wanted to go. She bribed me with an ice-pop when we got back if I'd go with her, so I went round again - I'm so easy. Mars was really in your face tonight, since the sky was much clearer. There were a couple of telescopes out again, and I got to look through one, but the atmospheric turbulence over the city ruins the view.

The red planet

The red planet via the Hubble telescope.

On day one - top of page
On day two

26+27/8/2003 - Oh Dear

OK, I'm going to be bad, and roll two days into one entry. Yes, I know, shock horror probe, I haven't done it in living memory. But there are times when two days are so similar it's difficult to remember them apart.

So what did we do? We spent our time waiting. We're waiting for something to happen about the fridge - it's amazing how dependent you get on these appliances. We're also waiting to hear more about the Bangalore possibility. Both fronts are pretty similar. It's going to happen tomorrow. Alice through the looking glass had a nice saying - "jam yesterday, and jam tomorrow, but never jam today". For US readers, perhaps I should point out that jam is the English word for concoctions like 'jelly' - but jam usually has lumps of fruit in it, or at least mashed fruit.

On both days, when we'd given up on the waiting, we did the usual things. On day one, we had pork chops with boiled potatoes con olive oil, and salad. On day two we had chicken with parmesan and spinach, and pasta with basil. I'm working well this week in that respect. If I go on cooking this way I'm going to get fat!

Both evenings we went for the ritual walk on the East River bank. Wednesday night was the Mars closest-approach day, and the river bank was full of people with binoculars and telescopes looking through the haze at the red planet. They missed the best view by a couple of weeks. It's been visible in the same area for weeks, and was much brighter then. But of course, it wasn't on the TV - now it's famous.

Credit where it's due

Credit where it's due

25/8/2003 - Conversations

I exchanged a couple of emails today with a guy in Bangalore called Balbir Singh. Balbir runs a web site that deals with the area of Bangalore - Koramangala - where most of the high-tech businesses are located. If I get there, that's where I'll be working, and presumably living. Balbir is going to look for an apartment for us.

The other conversation was with Scott, at BJ's. He was explaining that over the weekend, they'd taken everything down off the walls, cleaned the walls and the stuff, and replaced it. I took the picture to give credit where it's due. To be absolutely honest, If I hadn't been told, I would not have noticed. A 'before' picture would have been handy.

Terry had a yen for pizza, so she ordered a pie up on 3rd where the pizza is good and the price is better. It was half spinach and tomato for me, and half plain for her. We had it with a glass of the cheap Chilean merlot, which according to an article in the NY Post today should increase my lifespan dramatically. Well it could if I were a yeast cell - I'll just pretend for now.

On this day - top of page

A NY trio

A NY trio

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24/8/2003 - No Let-Up

It is Sandra's birthday today - happy birthday Sandra. She was supposed to come over today for a birthday meal, but when she heard about the most recent excursion she said she thought she'd give it a miss.

Terry got up surprisingly early. Being the first in there she discovered that the new fridge/freezer has stopped working, so we're back to square one in that respect. There's more food gone to waste, and we're living hand to mouth again - just what we need.

I finished the "Eye Witness Britain" book, then later in the afternoon, Romeo turned up. We went to BJ's for a little while around six, then Terry made crab cakes out of canned crab. Unfortunately they were far too salty, and essentially inedible. When we were at the pub, Terry had forgotten her bank card, so of course later she had to go back to settle her tab. Romeo went with her. Predictably, she polled in at about 4:15am.

August 24th wasn't a good day for the Romans either. in the year 79 Mount Vesuvius buried the cities of Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum in volcanic ash, thus killing some 20,000 people. Then on the same day in 410 Rome fell to the Visigoths.

New Jersey and the Hudson River

New Jersey and the Hudson River form the west side

On this day - top of page

23/8/2003 - Idiocy Day

I slept in the morning, figuring that if Terry did come back, she'd be OK in the daytime. In the afternoon I took the phone outside with me, and sat on the wall round the tree outside, reading the Eyewitness Britain book. Terry called at about two. She was very quiet. All I got was "are you going to let me in?". I said I was, then she hung up.

She got back at about 4:30pm, in a reasonably good mood. We decided we'd eat at BJ's - rib tips, hush puppies, a chilli burger, and mashed potatoes. The food there is good and cheap. When we got home I wanted a nap, not having slept that much. When I woke later, she'd invited Juan - one of her old boy friends - round. I don't like him. There's history to it, maybe I'll tell you one day. So I took the book, and went to read under the bright lights by the fountain on 2nd.

By the time Juan left it was around 12:30. Terry was back to her normal state, and announced that she had to go out to see ET, because the latter was having problems with the stalker again. I asked her repeatedly not to go, but she got dressed up, and went out at about 1:15am. Sometime in the middle of the night the phone rang. It was ET. She said Terry was out of control, and explained the course of the evening. I said there wasn't much I could do. Terry got home at 7:00am. She was somewhat sobered up by then - I guess she ran out of places to go.

It only takes a minute

It only takes a minute

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22/8/2003 - Games Day

In the morning I set about the kitchen and squared it up some. When Terry got up she did the same for the living room, and by the time we'd finished, the apartment looked quite presentable. Then she checked out share prices, and talked to Sandra. I finished the book. It had a couple of neat twists at the end that you didn't really see coming.

We walked up to BJ's at five. Boris was there first, so he got the poll position at the end of the bar, and he and Terry chatted while I read the paper and relaxed. Rachel was working. She said she was looking forward to visiting us in Bangalore. I told her she'd probably have to share the spare bed with ET, who's also eager to visit. Terry had invited Boris to come to come to eat and play chess - he said he would buy something to cook. So since they seemed set on lingering I wandered home, buying some things I knew we needed on the way.

They weren't far behind, and brought chicken and other odds and ends. I winced to note that there was vodka amongst the shopping. They boned and chopped the chicken, while I peeled garlic and made salad. Then I made a kind of lightly spiced chicken and potato curry, while they played chess. Chess to Terry is definitely warfare, she'll use any subterfuge to intimidate or distract the opponent. But Boris is good, and beats her pretty consistently. They ate while they played, switching to backgammon when Terry had had enough at chess. I moved over to the computer and wrote yesterdays piece, and surfed.

At about 9:00, Terry got changed and asked me if she liked what I was wearing. She was a somewhat worse for wear at that point. I told her she didn't need to get dressed up to go outside for a smoke. She agreed, but put on fresh makeup, and when Boris left, left with him to 'go outside for a smoke'. Usually I'd just have shrugged and let it go, but for some reason I followed. They headed straight for Mary Ann's. I went in and tried to get Terry out. I got her outside, and tried to get her toward home. She kicked her shoes off, and threw her handbag on the sidewalk. Accepting it was futile, I settled for the bag, figuring she might drink less if she'd no money and bank card.

I took the bag home, then came out to keep an eye on her. Boris had left, and the manager at Mary Ann's would only give her soda. She demanded to be let in to the apartment, but I said not just now, because I knew she would just get her stuff and go out again. This standoff lasted for some time. I don't know exactly what I expected to achieve, but it felt like some token resistance. Eventually, she gave me the slip, and disappeared. I went home and dozed fitfully most of the night.

The west side - Broadway at 79th Street

The west side - Broadway at 79th Street

21/8/2003 - Obsession

Another late start today, as a result of Terry's late arrival. I guess I got up about 10:30, and she was about an hour behind. She had worked out a free pass with the security guy at the pool the previous day, and was intent on making up for the short stay we had then. But none of the other participants were up for it, so in the end she changed her mind and went out at about 2:00pm to do unspecified other things.

I did some more reading on development management, and doodled with some notes I've started. But after a while I got my nose into a book Boris had lent me. Of course, once I'd got started, that was it. I'm like that with books, it's usually a case of I've started, so I'll finish.

I took the book with me to the pub. Boris was there in a talkative mood, and wouldn't let me concentrate. Terry arrived at about 5:45, and went home after about 20 minutes because she was hungry. When I'd finished shopping and got home she was fast asleep on the bed. I cooked some spuds, and made salad, and ate cold turkey (literally). I spent the rest of the evening with my head in the book.

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Legs and laces

Legs and laces

On this day - top of page

20/8/2003 - Out of Place

For some reason this morning, I turned over and went back to sleep. I don't know why. It's not like I went to bed late. But anyway, when I eventually surfaced it was 11:00am. I ate a little breakfast, then continued to read about development methodologies. Terry had an invite to a 'pool party', and she asked me if I'd like to go. I thought why not, so Terry phoned her girl friend who was the organizer, and asked if it was OK to bring me along.

So at about 1:30, we caught a cross-town bus to Amsterdam Avenue (10th Avenue elsewhere) at 96th Street, where there's a branch of Terry's bank, at which she had something to do. Then, being a little late we caught a taxi down to 79th Street, where we were to meet the party at a bar called Miss Ellie's.

The party turned out to consist of Deidre (the green legs), Rebecca, Terry and I. It was possible that ET would join us at the pool. The latter was a rooftop pool at the Holiday Inn hotel at 57th Street. Interestingly, it's a public pool - non-guests can pay to enter. Unfortunately, when we got there at 3:00, we were told it was closing at four for a private party. Deidre failed at haggling, but she was determined to have her time in the sun, and we ruefully paid up for the hour. I found a patch of shade behind the rules and regulations board. The girls toasted themselves. It was a scorching hot day. ET arrived briefly at some point, but she wasn't up for paying for the time that was left.

When we were timed out of the pool, we went to a bar called Peters, on Columbus (9th Ave) at about 68th Street. Some other friends of Deidre and Rebecca were there or turned up. It was quite pleasant. But then, quite suddenly, Terry wandered off to the far end of the place, and Deidre and Rebecca disappeared with a couple of men they'd met, and the party was at an end. Terry and I walked up Columbus, I presumed toward the subway station at 72nd Street. But Terry wasn't for going home. I left her to her own devices and went home alone. Unusually for me I declined to make anything, and ate a slice of pizza. Terry got back about midnight, harangued me for a while, then went out again to return at 5:00am, and to harangue me again. At the moment I've no idea whether we're speaking or not.

Rebecca

Rebecca
Deidre
Deidre
Wendy
Wendy

The Clark Bridge

The Clark Bridge over the Mississippi at Alton Illinois

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19/8/2003 - Some Focus

If I do go to Bangalore, one of the things I'll probably have to get involved in is setting up formal quality procedures to comply with ISO 9000, or CMM, or one of the body of standards. My aim in this will be a minimal compliant system that corresponds to one of the well defined software development methodologies. The trick will be to get others on board to choose the latter. Anyway, I've started reading. Much of this stuff is pretty dull, but some of the stuff on development methodologies is quite interesting. When you've been doing something for 30 years you tend to have fairly strong views on how it is done. I talked to one of the parties involved later in the day, and the trip does look to be on.

In the afternoon a new fridge/freezer arrived. This involved quite a lot of moving things about, and could have been organized better, but eventually we squeezed it in. Of course, both terry and I forgot that we'd parked butter, cheese, and some other stuff in an insulated bag with ice inside the old one. They were removed with the dead fridge.

We both went to BJ's, but weren't there particularly long. Terry had a yen for hot dogs - probably a hangover from our blackout day, so we got some, and ate them with salad again. In the evening we learned all about the Clark Bridge - there was a 2 hour Nova TV program about it. I never thought we'd get through the whole thing, but we were both fascinated. It was the best TV about engineering that I've seen in a long time.


Second Avenue - business as usual

Second Avenue - business as usual

18/8/2003 - Another Light News Day

It was good to have Terry back. I like to wake up next to her in the mornings. I went along 2nd Avenue to a fruit vendors stand and bought strawberries and figs. I was looking at myself in the mirror yesterday, and concluded that it's time to do something about the belly. So I ate fruit and drank coffee, and did more Bangalore googling. It seems like no two accounts you read have the same opinion of the place, but for the most part people who've spent time there seem to think it's OK.

After noon, I finally got my act together and walked up to 87th and 3rd to get a new lavatory seat. The existing one, an oak contrivance that we quite liked, snapped off when Terry sat on it last week. I got another one the same, so that will probably snap in due course also. Anyway, it's back in order now.

Terry declined on BJ's at 5:00 so I went briefly, and got salad things on the way back. We ate the remains of the corned beef hash with salad, and seem to have escaped food poisoning. Later we watched a film version of "The Count of Monte Christo", which was actually rather good.

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The principal view of every day

The principal view of every day

17/8/2003 - Doldrums

It's always very quiet when Terry isn't around, and today for some reason it was eerily so. I went and bought myself a toasted cinnamon-raisin bagel with butter for my breakfast, and made coffee. But I couldn't settle to any fixed line of work. I kept stopping and wandering 2nd Avenue aimlessly. If this is what boredom is about, I'm glad I don't get it very often.

I phoned Terry at mid-afternoon, and it sounded like she might stay another night. At that point I took a longer break, and walked down the park and back to 86th Street, where I skimmed computer programming books at Barnes & Noble. Then I stopped in at Spirits and lingered over a pitcher of Bud. After that I was hungry so I went home and cooked corned-beef hash - cheap and cheerful. I spoke to Terry again at about 8:00pm, and she said she was fed up and was coming home. At that time I have to admit I had my doubts, and thought she might be there until Monday.

For a change, the History International channel wasn't bad. Except for a break for the evening river walk, I found something interesting to watch until 11:30, then went to bed. I was just slipping off to sleep when Terry arrived as promised. She was tired too, and after brief explanations we both fell asleep.

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Ingredients:
  • A pound or so of boiled red potatoes, cut fairly small,
  • A good sized portion of poached salmon, cut up about the same size,
  • A bulb of garlic, chopped up, not crushed,
  • A can of chick peas,
  • Juice of a lemon,
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot chilli powder,
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder,
  • Fresh dill for garnish/decoration.

16/8/2003 - Piquant Salmon

This should server two. Fry the potatoes briskly in olive oil in a large skillet, until they just start to brown, then turn them down. Add the chopped garlic, chilli, turmeric, and salt, and stir these in gently. Don't do vigorous stirring - we're trying to preserve the chunks.

Drain the liquor from the chick peas - you can leave just a little - than add these and the salmon, and fold them in to the rest. Add the lemon juice, then cover the skillet with a lid, and leave on a low heat for five minutes, or until the salmon and chick peas are hot.

Chop the dill, and use it as a decorative garnish when you serve the food onto the plate. The color should be a rather startling yellow-orange, with the contrast of the dill, and splashes of the darker potato skins. Eat it while it's piping hot. I had mine with a glass of cheap Chilean merlot, and that worked very well with the robust flavor of the dish.

Pleasing architecture

Pleasing architecture

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16/8/2003 - Reasonable Normality

We rose rather late. All that walking the day before must have zonked me. Terry was to go to Sandra's, since she needed to make a hospital visit to her brother, but was also expecting a furniture delivery. Terry scrambled round, and got off at about 11:00am. She was fully expecting that the furniture would arrive before her.

I cleaned up my email, caught up on the page, then did some more work on the ajp14cc project to make sure I could read data posted by mod_jk to my program correctly. It was just as well I did, since I discovered a wierd idiosyncrasy in the protocol. An ajp14 packet usually consists of a two-byte signature, followed by a two-byte length indicator, followed by the actual data. However, when mod_jk sends data, it sends the first two as expected, but then sends another two bytes corresponding to the length off the data. So to send "abcde", the packet would be 12 35 00 07 00 05 61 62 63 64 65. It's probably a feature, but I haven't detected how it might be used yet.

When I'd finished with that, I Googled the Indian city of Bangalore, where there's a possibility I might have to go on business. At five I packed it in, and went on to Spirits, where I can get a cheap pitcher of beer at the weekend. We don't usually go there because Terry is banned. After I'd sat for an hour and watched the world go by, I was hungry. I went home and recovered the salmon I'd cooked the previous night from Yana's fridge next door, and made something completely off the top of my head. No photo, but it was excellent. I'll put up a recipe.

Driving without the safety net

Driving without the safety net


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15/8/2003 - Life Without Electricity

When you went to bed in pitch darkness, the light of dawn tends to wake you up. I got up at about 6:30 - there was still nothing working. Of course, the TV is useless, I no longer own a battery radio, and the computers are so much scrap metal. So you've no idea what's going on. Actually Terry has a little battery TV, but we didn't get much joy from that. The news said that power was being restored gradually, but gave no idea of what to expect. Fortunately we have a gas cooker, so I was able to make some coffee. I wandered over to the deli to find something suitable for breakfast, but it was pretty well cleaned out. I brought home some frankfurters they had standing on ice, and some hot-dog buns, which were the only remaining form of bread, and we ate hot-dogs for breakfast. After that, boredom soon got the better of us and we went back to bed.

I got up again later, and spent much of the late morning and afternoon walking up and down 2nd Avenue to pass the time. Both motorists and pedestrians were quite well behaved without the traffic lights, contrary to the reputation of New Yorkers. It was hot, and Hooligans was a draw - they still had ice, and thus cold beer. But I'd no money left, and no way of getting any, since of course all the ATM's were down, and the banks closed. Terry finally surfaced, and wasn't as easily deterred from getting a cold drink. She knows the manager at Hooligans, and got us a tab.

Finally the word was that there was power down at 79th Street, and we discovered that the buses were free, so we went down there, found some money, and paid our debts.

Our power came back at about 5:00pm. I cleaned out the freezer, threw away what wasn't salvageable, and cooked other stuff. But the fridge/freezer isn't working any more. It lost its refrigerant charge when the ice melted in the freezer, and is now dead, so I'll probably lose the food anyway.

The uptown commute

The uptown commute

Get it while you can

Get it while you can

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14/8/2003 - A Day of Note

It started quite normally. I fiddled with software, walked down to the bank at 79th Street to pay in a check, and went to the laundromat next door to get back to a state where I had some T shirts to wear. Then at about 4:10pm, the lights flickered then died. Actually there was still some voltage for a while. The lights were just unusably dim. My computers died, but interestingly I could not turn of the LCD monitor. I had to physically unplug it.

By the time I'd got that far, it was apparent that this wasn't our apartment, or our apartment building. Voices in the street told us that it was at least the block. It was a little longer before we knew that it was the city, and the state, and several other states. My son made an email comment later - "A superpower with a third world grid system!"

Maybe I'll be a bit defensive about that. All power grids are potentially unstable, and the one in the US is probably the biggest, so if there are problems, the potential is equally great. For the record, what happens under these circumstances is that a link in the electricity transmission system gets broken - lightening, or other physical damage to the system. Then the power generators that are pushing electricity along that link suddenly find that it has nowhere to go. The current falls, and the inevitable consequence is that the voltage rises. All the other links that are on that side of the fault see a voltage spike. So they in turn automatically trip. Why? Because otherwise your toaster would explode, and the motor in your washing machine would burn out, and the insulation would fail and set your apartment on fire. The generators then trip for much the same reason, and the whole thing grows like Topsy because it's better to be safe than sorry (or safe than sued). Then the boilers that are generating steam for the generator turbines trip their feed pumps and start venting high pressure steam into the atmosphere, and the turbines, which are maybe at a temperature of 1000 Centigrade shut down. They have to be kept moving slowly, otherwise at that temperature, their shafts will bend under their own weight, and they'll never work again, so there is a really big flap on at the power stations.

Getting everything working again is a big deal. For a start, all the generators have to produce alternating current electricity at exactly the same 60 hertz. So they have to be brought up one at a time, and synchchronized with those that are already running. Then blocks of load - areas of cities - have to be brought back, and this has to be managed so that the generators are not subjected to excessive transients as 100,000 air conditioners suddenly start up. If you think they didn't make a good job of it, then you try it.

So at about 4:10pm, Manhattan started to degenerate onto a pattern of badly lit street parties where the citizens descended on their local bar, and did their best to get a few beers while they were still cold. Not all local bars could join in, because many have electronic cash registers, and all were unable to process credit cards. You get the picture. Other citizens amused themselves in the dark in other ways, and usually there's a bit of a spike in the birthrate 9 months after such events.

Butterfly in the East Meadow

Butterfly in the East Meadow


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13/8/2003 - Butterflies

So today, Romeo was replaced by El Tahra. In the course of the tangle with the boyfriend whenever it was, she'd hidden in some bushes, and encountered either some unpleasant insects, or some poison ivy. Anyway she had some nasty bumps coming up on her legs, and spent most of the day when she wasn't sleeping soaking them in salt water or applying hydrocortisone ointment. I didn't envy her them, they looked rather nasty.

I spent some of the day fiddling with the ajp14cc example, which I'd expanded to use multiple threads. I've fixed it up so that it will create more threads as required, and let them die when they time-out waiting for work. It's fairly complete now, and I could graft it onto Retro, but I'm probably going to hold on that for a while.

I had to wake ET when we were getting ready to go up to BJ's at around 4:30. I went up first to secure seats, and Terry and ET drifted in shortly after. Jessica was working, and the draft Bus was giving her a hard time - all froth. She ended up filling jugs and serving the beer out of them. Good on you Jessica.

After BJ's, The NY Grand Opera were doing Butterfly in the park. So I nipped back down home and wrapped a bottle of cheap plonk and some plastic cups in a beach towel, and we took ourselves off to the East Meadow by 97th Street. Unfortunately, the sound system, and Butterfly herself sucked. Pinkerton, and everyone else was fine, but she didn't seem to be able to hit the notes, except for the high ones. So along with others, we left part way through act II.

Boring

Boring


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12/8/2003 - Alone Again (Naturally?)

This is not at all a normal day. Romeo is gone - what will happen? Well maybe the words "Romeo, go home now" did pass my lips at some point.

The nifty drilling rig was back. Well at least, one of its siblings was - the one I saw before was a newer spiffier model. I was correct in my assumptions gleaned from the small metal cap that the other rig left in place. The holes are for environmental sampling before and after the 2nd Avenue Subway project. They're about six inches wide and fifty feet deep. I missed out on a picture where they were actually drilling. Once again by the time I got there they were done. My other serious purpose in being out and about was to buy coffee. I'd suddenly come over hungry and thirsty, and we were fresh out. I have a bacon sandwich in my belly now, and a mug of coffee at my side, so I feel better.

Terry had a telephone conversation with El Tahra from which it appeared that she was having a hard time with some boyfriend. She volunteered to introduce ET to a friend who is a private investigator, and knows a lot about police practices. She was to meet ET at 5:00pm. Innocent me was laboring under the impression that she'd be through by about 8:00pm, and home for a late supper. So after a quick trip up to the pub, I came home and duly made my scollops in a tangy sauce with sliced potatoes. It was supposed to be over rice, but there wasn't enough rice left. I received various phone calls on progress. I ate, then worked some more. At 10:30 I went for our evening walk by myself again, then went to bed about 11:30. The cat is in heat, and was howling and being a complete pain in the arse, so I never really got to sleep. Terry and ET polled in at 3:30am (not particularly drunk I should say in all fairness), and proceeded to talk and play cards for ever. I eventually got about an hours sleep then finally threw in the towel and got up at about 6:30. Then of course they were tired, and went to bed.

The historical event of the day happened in 1981, when the IBM PC was announced. It changed quite a lot.

11/8/2003 - Plus and Minus

Deja vu?. Romeo was still there on the sofa when I woke in the morning. Well, I say there - you wouldn't have noticed either him or Terry until about mid-day, since they didn't get in until about 4:00am the night before.

I got quite a lot of work done, finishing off the ajp14 test program, and creating some readme notes for it. It's posted on the web now should anyone be interested. How to find people who might be interested is another question. I sent a message to the Tomcat-users mail list, but they're all Java fanatics, who won't be interested by definition. There doesn't seem to be a mailing list that deals with the more general topic of Apache connectors.

It was me who got bored first today. Being a creature of habit, at 4:30 I showered and dressed - at this time of year, clothing in the apartment tends to be limited to a pair of boxer shorts - and went up to BJ's, intending a brief visit. Terry and Romeo arrived an hour later, and of course when I was ready to leave, they weren't for moving. What can I say?

I ate some food that Terry had made the previous night, which was pretty good, watched the History channel for a while, and poked at the web page. Should I bother going on with this, or is it just getting totally boring?


Waiting for business

Waiting for business

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Waiting for business

Waiting for business

10/8/2003 - Plus and Minus

Terry had acquired Romeo as her companion for the evening when she got back from Nolan's. So he was there when I woke in the morning. Well, I say there - you wouldn't have noticed either of them until after mid-day, since they didn't get in until about 5:00am the night before.

I got quite a lot of work done, and more or less had the ajp14 test program working by late afternoon. Terry and Romeo got bored before then, and went out. The early start resulted in another day that I don't have much more to say about. We seem to be into repetitive sampling mode again - like a CD that's locked on a sequence, or as they used to say in previous generations, "like a record that's got stuck".

In 1945, responding to the Nagasaki bomb, the Japanese announced that they would surrender as long as the Emperor could remain in-place.

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Manhattan from the Bronx in murky weather

Manhattan from the Bronx in murky weather

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9/8/2003 - An Excursion

I concluded that I'd done enough reading, and actually started coding on a C++ client for ajp14 today. It was slow going to start with, but I started to get some communication between Apache and my test program by mid afternoon.

Nolan called at about 3:00pm, and asked if we'd like to go over, as he was having a small gathering. I thought the break would be good. Terry was pretty bored anyway, so she packed up ingredients for a crab salad, and a bit later we took off and got the subway up to Bronx.

There was no-one there but Nolan when we arrived, but his friend Mary arrived after a while, with a friend of hers. I was getting restless by about 9:00pm, and we were ready to leave when another woman friend of Nolans arrived. This delayed Terry for another hour, which given the fact that Nolan was feeding her vodka and orange juice wasn't a good thing. When we finally escaped we started arguing in the taxi on the way home, and I got out somewhere just the other side of the river and walked home. I'm skipping the rest of the evening, it didn't get any better.
In 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. It was the last of the two bombs that the USA posessed at the time.

Traffic on the FDR

Traffic on the FDR

8/8/2003 - Friday

Not an exciting day. I'm still trying to get to the bottom of the AJP protocal descriptions. There are no real 'official' specifications, just notes made by people from study of the code, and in some cases, the initial proposals. Unfortunately I'm not sure that these and the code are entirely consistent.

We paid our ritual visit to BJ's. Rachel was behind the bar, and the usual suspects were there. We ate salad and cold-cuts, and some rather nice bread with olive oil and garlic. My, I am struggling today! The high spot of the day was our evening walk. Terry was quite persistent, and we did about five blocks more than usual, then walked across 81st Street to 2nd Ave. and back home that way.

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Indigestion?

Indigestion?

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7/8/2003 - Hard Times

Terry and I both had unsuccessful days. Terry's Patterson trip wasn't productive. I also saw a man about some potential work, only to discover that the work had been pulled before we even got a chance to discuss it. Such are the times. It was something of a disappointment, since we'd both had high hopes. As a consequence, I got little or nothing done today.

In the afternoon, I went out to get a picture of a rather neat drilling rig that had been boring a hole down under 2nd Avenue - probably to do with the projected 2nd Avenue Subway Line. But by the time I got there, they'd already finished, packed up, and gone. All that was left was a small metal plate. I wasn't sure you'd be interested in seeing it. Having said that, the provisional picture for the day isn't much better - a little more colorful perhaps. Maybe it will get replaced later (it did) - I'm off to the pub.

Scott was on duty, and Terry's rival on the game machine was there, so it took her three quarters of an hour to get on there. At some point the ambulance and fire engine arrived opposite. The firemen had no idea what was wrong - I guess it made a trip out. I put it down to a case of bad indigestion, or terminal diarrhea.

Supper was a stir-fry, beef and chicken, mushroom, onion, garlic, and green pepper, finished with a light Teriyaki sauce - cost about $10. The result was excellent. There are no leftovers - bummer.

On this day in 1914, Germany invaded France, thus initiating the 'Great War' - World War I - the great trench war. The groundwork for this had been laid in the last year of the American Civil War, but nobody had noticed the development. To make matters worse, in the intervening period, the machine gun had been perfected.


90th Street ferry maneuvering

90th Street ferry maneuvering

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6/8/2003 - Head in the Clouds

Clouds of C code that is. Understanding other people's code is always a bit of a challenge. Well perhaps not so much the understanding - actually finding the important bits is the hard part. Anyway, looking at the AJP13 stuff soaked up most of the day.

Terry's decided she is going to Patterson, stiff or not. Actually she's going to her Mum's tonight, and seeing the man about the job tomorrow. She came with me to BJ's before setting off, then I carried her bag up to the 96th Street subway station. Boris was at the pub - long time no see. He's had his hair cut shorter, and looks quite different - tougher and younger.

Then I went back home, ate leftovers, and stuck my head back in the code. It was there until around 9:15, when I'd had enough, and took a break for a walk. Of course Terry phoned while I was out. By the time I went to bed I was pretty sure the thing I wanted to do could be done. But it was humid, even with the air-conditioner on, and it was going round in my head for an hour or more before I got to sleep.

On this day in 1945, a B-29 bomber - the Enola Gay - dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima.


An ideal time to go out

An ideal time to go out

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5/8/2003 - Never Rains but it Pours

Retro is basically a piece of Java bashing on my part. Java, the language to end all computer languages, is - in my view - a dog. In particular, it's dog slow. So I found my software activities of the day amusing. When you're running certain Java based web application frameworks with the Apache web server (the worlds most popular web server), Apache talks to the Java application through a module written in C. Looking at the code for that, it seemed to me that it should be capable of running PDQ (as in pretty damn quick). It uses a protocol called AJP13 (Apache-Java-Protocol 1.3), which is fairly straightforward, so it occurred to me that it wouldn't be a big job to write a receiving end for AJP13. Much of the code you'd need is already there in the Apache module. It would then be possible to have a version of Retro that used another existing Apache module, and that might well have better performance than FastCGI. That should keep my brain cells active, and would be a bit of a laugh given the module's intended purpose!

Terry went out today at about 2:00pm to go to the deli, and as she stepped of the top step of the flight of stairs down from our first-floor apartment, one of her heels broke, and she took a fall down the stairs. So the other leg (the non-operation leg) got banged-up. It doesn't seem that any serious damage was done, but she'll probably have some horrendous bruising, and be stiff for several days. She's supposed to be going to Patterson tomorrow to see someone about a job. I don't know if she'll make that.

The weather-for-ducks in the picture seems to happen any time you step out of the apartment this week. In this case as I went out in the evening for a beer, and to do the food shopping.

Expensive

Expensive

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4/8/2003 - Out of Line

Today I discovered yet another way that the Windows version of Retro was behaving differently than the Linux/Apache version. It's fixed now I hope - wouldn't it be nice if that was the end. But there never is an end.

For a variety of reasons, there was an air of gloom about the day. Terry was down in the dumps, and I can't say I was much better. The being-unemployed thing gets to you from time to time, and it's possibly accentuated by the start of another 'working week' and another month - what's to become of us? Oddly though, I know with some certainty that as and when I do find another job, I'll look back on this time with some nostalgia. It has certainly been different.

We went to BJ's briefly, getting soaked by a passing thunderstorm on the way. We passed the unfortunate guy with the smashed-up car on the way back - he said his brakes had failed. The tree escaped relatively unscathed.

Supper was simple and homely - corned beef hash. After supper, we had a lover's tiff about American politics and morality, and I retired to bed early in an unjustified huff. Terry bought me flowers to make up, and I was ungracious. Sorry Terry.

The watchtower

The watchtower

3/8/2003 - Sunday

You can always tell it's a quiet day when I use a caption like that. I got some work done in the morning, I'm thinking about Internationalization considerations for Retro, and wrote a section which may at some point find its way into the user notes. Incidentally, in the software business, "internationalization" is known as "i18n", because that's much easier to type, and because that's how many letters there are between the first 'i', and the last 'n'.

At about midday, we both walked up to Gristedes, and got coffee filters and rolls. Then Terry made me coffee and a bacon sandwich, complete with fried tomatoes - a l'anglais. I was hungry by then, and it was wonderful. Speaking of which, I could eat something now - short break.

My "watchtower" is of course, a water tank, or cistern, as most New Yorkers would quickly point out. However I always think that they look like something out of fifteenth century Italy. They're basically a wooden barrel with a roof, so the design is certainly very old - maybe even Roman. By the way, it was today in 1492 that Christopher Columbus set sail to discover the Americas.

In the afternoon we watched most of "The Lion in Winter", before we finally got fed up of the squabbling between Henry and his sons and Wife. Terry made some excellent crab cakes for supper. We ate them with leftover salad, potatoes, etc. from the previous day. To round the day off we took the riverside walk down to 86th Street. The low tide had just turned, and there was a spectacularly strong reverse flow up the river. I wouldn't like to have had to swim in there.

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It's a dog's life

It's a dog's life

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2/8/2003 - Goodies from New Jersey

Terry had at some point nominated Romeo to take herself, Sandra and me to Docs (a rather nice seafood restaurant) tonight, or he volunteered - depends who you listen to. Not surprisingly, in the cold light of morning, he had recanted. However, Sandra was still coming, and it had been arranged that she, Terry, and I would have the seafood meal at home at out apartment. So the principal goodie from New Jersey was Sandra herself, Terry's good friend, and I hope also mine. There was a food hamper too - thank you Sandra.

This was to be an important feast, so some of the day was devoted to preparation - shopping for salad, potatoes and such. Terry also did more work on the apartment, so it would be in an appropriate state.

Sandra arrived at about 6:00pm, and after stowing food in the fridge/freezer, and a little car shuffling, we went up to BJ's for a pre-meal drink. We were not there long, since hunger was a factor. I was appointed to do the cooking, and pretty soon we split to get started.

Sandra had brought three huge Chilean Sea Bass steaks. I had no idea what's the convention for this fish, so I used my imagination. Sandra had also brought fresh herbs from her garden, so I used fresh dill and oregano, chopping them finely, and making a paste with egg, garlic, mustard and pepper. I coated the steaks with the paste, and baked them in a hot oven until the fish was tender. The rest was a snip. Salad consisted of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, and sliced mushroom. For starch, I boiled some red potatoes, and there was rice and beans left from the night before. (They were powerful, I'd been farting like it was going out of fashion all day.)

The result was a veritable feast. The steaks looked enormous, but they were light, and easy to eat, and the rice and beans got points too. It goes without saying that I neglected to take a photo, hence the unrelated picture on the left.

Fred and his horn

Fred and his horn

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1/8/2003 - A Visitation

Today consisted of more housekeeping and errands. In the case of Retro, this consisted of adding a table of contents to the user notes. There's about 50 letter size pages of it now. I also did some work on an outstanding issue. An HTML page can have multiple input fields with the same name, and I'm not handling that correctly at the moment.

We also did washing. Terry had accumulated a large bag of bedspreads, drapes, and other things that would require a large machine. So fairly early, before it got too busy, I carried it over across 2nd Avenue to the laundromat there, and Terry set about it. Later, I had to help with the folding, which is one of those things that for some reason, I'm spectacularly bad at. Some of the drapes were very long, and particularly taxing in this respect - what a sight! In the afternoon, I made another trip down to 79th Street.

In the late afternoon, Terry's cousin TJ phoned. (I've no idea what her name is, and can't ever recall hearing anyone use it.) Apparently her man Fred was playing at a free concert somewhere in Queens. Fred plays jazz flugel horn. I didn't transmit this information to Terry in time, so TJ only got one extra ticket, Terry went, and I went to BJ's.

My inamorata Rachel was working behind the bar, complaining about being ill. But she'd dosed herself up with a cocktail of generics, and was holding up well. I talked about the civil war with a girl from Texas who came in and took Terry's seat next to me. She was going home for a visit the next day. I'm sure we covered other subjects too. Then I went home and made traditional English Rice and Beans. Later, after the concert broke up, I was summoned back to the pub, where the rest of the party had decided to eat.

On this day in 1619, the first black Americans arrived at Jamestown, VA. Interestingly, on the same date in 1834, slavery was outlawed in the British Empire.
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