July 2003 in New York through the eyes of an Englishman -  Contact  Current Month  Previous  Next  Index  Software


2nd Avenue at 93rd Street

2nd Avenue at 93rd Street

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31/7/2003 - Housekeeping

Today I cleaned up contents of the domain that provides my e-mail address. It had some software on it that I'd done a couple of years ago. Nobody was interested. So now that's history, and it's just "Steve Teale's Software Page", with Publicity, Retro, and some other bits and pieces, and is pretty plain.

Terry had a similar bent for the day, and between us, we cleaned the windows of the apartment, inside and outside as best we could. The living room windows are OK, you can get to them with a sponge/squeegee on a stick pretty easily from the fire escape. The bedroom window is more of a problem, you have to clean the outside by hanging out of the window, and some parts are difficult to reach. That window also seems to be dropping to pieces.

She went on to square up the living room and bathroom, and I did the kitchen. The place looks quite smart. When we'd done our chores, we took some time out to spend together, and then I napped for about an hour. Terry continued to vacillate about her promised meeting with Clyde. He likes Terry, though I don't know if he's ever seen her, and he's got the idea into his head now, so he'll probably be hard to shake off.

We both went up to BJ's. Thursday night is ladies night so it's very economical. Boris seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth since his no-show last Saturday. His friend was there looking for him, and he hadn't seen him either. As it turned out we saw him sitting outside another bar as we walked home.

Supper was a treat. Steamed peel and eat shrimp - Terry had got them at the other BJ's when she was last at Sandra's. We watched a movie about a cross-dressing woman sheep farmer in the old west, which was actually quite good.

A NY icon

A NY icon

30/7/2003 - Peace and War

Well, Retro is working again as expected in Linux and Windows, so I wrote a section of the user notes to deal with the Windows installation, and put both versions up on the software page. Now I have to make a list of outstanding issues - things it doesn't do as it should, and other things that should be done. Of course I've also got to find a way of letting anyone who might be interested know that it's there.

Terry got up quite early, and was in a conciliatory mood. She had arranged to meet Clive, an older blind guy she knows, for lunch. But she changed her mind and cancelled, preferring a quiet day. In the afternoon, I went to the same Fleet bank, because I had a couple of checks to pay in, and to do what she had not actually done the day before. I walked down to 79th Street and back, and quite enjoyed it - a pleasant day.

She declined our evening break today, and sent me on my own. Martha and Jessica both enquired where she was with a small undertone of concern. I said she was taking a rest. I'd taken my "Eyewitness Britain" book, and among other things, read an account of Waterloo from the point of view of an English ensign (the entry-level officer rank I believe) on duty in an infantry square at the middle of the British line. That was quite a business.

For supper, we had salad and cold-cuts. I ate the remains of the roast pork - I'm porked-out now, and Terry ate some cold turkey-leg that she'd cooked. It seemed appropriate.

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The new bar on the corner

The new bar on the corner

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29/7/2003 - Tuesday

Having finally somewhat improved the Retro makefiles, and having then put a tar file of the Linux version on the software page, today of course I found a bug in the Windows stuff, which meant I'd have to backtrack on both. It was a problem in the XML handling code, which previously had been pretty much identical for Linux and Windows. This was one of those time consuming things related to the use of C++ standard library components in Microsoft DLLs. It took me the best part of the day to find what I thought was a reasonable solution for both systems.

Terry once again awoke quite early. She needed to go to a Fleet bank, but the nearest one is at 79th Street, and she didn't fancy that. However she quickly became bored - my working during the day is not much appreciated, though I think it's a good habit to keep up. Apparently working on her collage wasn't appealing, so eventually a trip to the bank became more attractive. She took off at about 2:45, saying she would catch up with me later. I went up to BJ's at around five, expecting to see her there. By the time I'd exhausted my remaining $4 she hadn't appeared, so I went home to make some supper. I'd had a phone message saying she was on her way, and phoned back two or three times, but only got her voicemail.

After I'd eaten, at about 8:00, I walked up there to see if she'd appeared, and sure enough, there she was, engrossed in conversation. I didn't stay because I didn't want any more beer, and was in any case somewhat peeved. Instead I went home for a while, then went out and looked at books at Barnes & Noble, and walked. I got back later to find her sitting on the wall outside. Apparently she'd gone out without her keys, but that part of the evening is out-of-bounds, and I can't discuss it.

On this day in 1588, the English, under admirals Drake and Howard, defeated the Spanish Armada at the naval battle of Gravelines.

All the rage

All the rage

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28/7/2003 - Business as Usual

I was wrong about the Retro stuff working. As I was trying to put a distribution package together I noticed a problem with the way the project make files cleaned up if you wanted to make a fresh start. This resulted in a long digression, with a lot of reading about how to write makefiles - a black art.

Terry got up quite early, and actually ate some breakfast - her resilience always amazes me. In the afternoon, she went of to visit her friend Nolan in the Bronx. I guessed goodies of some sort were on the cards.
The 'freshdirect' phenomenon cropped up, I guess, late last year - posters on the subway at first. At the time I wondered why anybody would order their food on the Internet. What if it didn't look like the pictures, what if you weren't there when they delivered it, and what if you forgot something important, then had to trail out to the supermarket anyway. In any case, I reasoned, there's a supermarket every few blocks in NY City, so why would anybody bother. It's just as easy to walk round the corner. But what do I know? Now the streets are thronged with 'freshdirect' trucks, and the city's garbage seems to consist mostly of flattened 'freshdirect' cardboard boxes. I suppose there is one advantage that I glossed over in my initial thinking. If you can order your food from the Internet, then lot's of people can do it on their employers time. If any of our readers has first-hand experience of the system, I'd be interested to hear how it works out.

Terry joined me at BJ's at about 5:30, clutching Louis Vuton stuff - I don't have any idea whether it was real or not. She had brought me a belt, but I declined it on the grounds that it isn't my habit to wear clothes with somebody else's initials all over them. Terry had had a drink before she went out, and apparently a couple more at Nolans, so I suggested she kept it down at the pub. This and my rejection of the belt, was apparently too much. She left, and I didn't see her until somewhat later, but I'm not permitted to write about that. The belt got given to a more grateful recipient.

We can use this one (Scottie)

We can use this one (Scottie)

27/7/2003 - The Weekend, Part II

Something of a clone of the day before, up to a point. I've got the Retro project-build stuff working in a half-decent way on both Windows and Linux, and I'm now starting on making and testing distribution packages. Does that mean I'm finished? Well no, this is yet another of those steps that reveals things you've got wrong.

One of the unfortunate effects of the abortive Boris visit yesterday was that Terry purchased a bottle of vodka. Boris was going to reimburse her. The vodka had taken some hits the night before. It escaped today until about 3:00pm, at which point some got consumed in Bloody Mary's. Later I noticed Terry with a vodka and coke. This mean't she was two drinks up before BJ's. I mentioned this to her when we were there, but was assured she was fine. We met Romeo there, and he cam home with us for supper.

After supper, Terry went out for a smoke, and Romeo went with her to keep her company. It's 10:30 now, and I heven't seen them since. I went out to look for them but they weren't anywhere predictable that was within walking distance. I'd go out myself, just for spite, but I don't have a penny to my name. Ah well!

They appeared about midnight, accompanied by some stranger. I had just about got to sleep, and wasn't impressed, so I asked them to leave. I'm not allowed to comment on anything else.

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A deserted, hazy 3rd Avenue

A deserted, hazy 3rd Avenue

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26/7/2003 - The Weekend

The weekend is one of those things that's a bit difficult to distinguish when you're not working. The only significant difference is that there's no happy hour at the bars, so you can't get our beer at a significantly discounted price. In summary, the day consisted of work, shower, go to BJ's for an hour, cook, eat, play cribbage, and go to bed. Hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar. Boris and his friend were supposed to come for dinner, but either didn't show, or gave up waiting before we got back.

I have a gripe however - I know everybody loves it when I gripe. Actually, it's a couple of them, but they're similar. Last year, or the year before, New York passed a couple of laws. The first said that you weren't to use your mobile phone while driving your car, and the second said that if you were over 15, you should not ride your bike on the sidewalk. It's just amazing how effective these laws have been. You still see what appears to be just the same number of drivers with phones glued to their ear while they negotiate heavy traffic. And you still have to dodge the same number of grown men riding bikes on the sidewalk.

At the same time, the traffic police are slapping parking tickets on anything that stops, and people are being fined for sitting on the steps in subway stations. NY legislators, where's your common sense? Don't pass laws that you can't, or aren't prepared to enforce. Also occasionally why don't you spend some time weeding out stupid laws that were passed by your predecessors, and repealing them.

At the end of the day, going to bed wasn't that easy. Terry had got up late, so of course, she wasn't up for going to bed at midnight. She stayed up until 2:30 working on a collage, and I dozed and tossed and turned fitfully, disturbed by the noise of the TV, and Terry's activity.

Terry and an aquaintance

Terry and an aquaintance

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25/7/2003 - Closer and closer

There's an old story about a thirsty frog hopping toward a well. It was weak from lack of water, and each hop it took was half the length of the last hop. How long would it take it to reach the well? Retro is similar. I went back today once again to make sure I hadn't accidentally broken the Linux version while I was getting the Windows version working. Everything looked good, but I was reminded that the Linux error handling behaved differently than that in Windows. There didn't seem to be any good reason why they shouldn't be the same, so there went another half-hop.

There were cherries, and there was nookie, though it was a finely balanced thing. Strictly speaking, I should have done the laundry first, so there'd be an incentive. But Terry relented. Then I did half-laundry, that is I took it there, and put it in the washers, and went back and put it in the dryers. Terry went and took it out, and folded it. The moral of the story is "always get paid up-front". Then I finished the work on the Linux error handling, and went on to another task on the Windows version - automating the creation of a new project. That was already done to some extent, and is coming on well.

Rachel - my latest heart-throb - was working behind the bar at BJ's. She's not the speediest of servers, but she makes up for it in other ways. Boris was garrulous to a fault - I'd taken the Eyewitness Britain book to read, but I couldn't get to it for interruptions. Terry met friends outside while smoking, not that that's anything unusual. It was a mother/daughter team. The daughter declined photography on account of a bad-hair day, so you have Terry and mum. We're going back there for a quick one now on Terry (11:40pm), since it's Friday, and the natives are restless.

The NY way

The NY way

24/7/2003 - Garbage

Since I rarely get any feedback, maybe that's what this is. I'd never know. I'm not going to nag, but please, if you're out there, and you like us at all, find a way to let us know. You have an e-mail address, and there's a message board. What more can I do?

Well, today I got all of the examples working on the Windows version of Retro - little ripple of applause please. So now I have to go back and check that I haven't done anything stupid to break the Linux version. That will be tomorrow.

Other than that, the day was pretty uneventful. Terry did some more clearing up on the apartment. I worked. We went to the pub. Scott (the barkeeper tonight) had had his hair drastically cut. He wasn't sure, but we thought he looked good (why no picture you might ask?). Boris bent out ear. I cooked chicken in garlic butter with sag alloo (spinach and potatoes), and we played cribbage again. My life is boring! What can I tell you. Maybe it's a special day - nothing of significance happened in history either.

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Hobbling again

Hobbling again

23/7/2003 - More of the Same

Software development companies, and their project managers, should take note of the process that's going on here. I am highly motivated in what I'm doing, because I think it makes sense, and fills a gap that nothing else occupies. Not least because I'm bloody stubborn. I don't have to write plans, or go to meetings to discuss progress, or fill in time sheets. However, I have written a specification, and I'm not constantly expanding it - just trying to make it so. I usually start work at or before 8:00am, and work intensely, without much in the way of a break until 4:30pm. Then I work another shift in the evening. Nonetheless, this stuff seems like a bottomless pit for effort. The parties mentioned above always want to know "when will you be done?". After all these years, I still don't really have a clue on how to answer that question. The conventional answer is "when it's finished". What does that mean? Well I guess my answer at the moment, as software development company, project manager, and developer, would be "when it has found and corrected the logical inconsistencies in the specification, and when it works like the specification says". Trying to "make it so" on two operating systems at the same time doesn't help.

Anyway, enough of that griping. I never enjoyed being a manager, and it's coming along. I had to detour today to get one of the Windows examples working. I'd used an open software library called "libgd" to make an example that generates a graphics file. Of course, getting that for Windows proved difficult. It was 10 minutes work to download it and install it on Linux, and the best part of a day to get it working in Windows. If anybody wants it, it's on the software page

Terry's toe is a little better. She's hobbling about on a stick today, and made it to the pub and back. She made dinner - shrimp kebabs and rice - which was great. I'll have her making curry next. Later we played cribbage, and she thrashed me.

OK, so what's Cribbage? It's a very old card game, traditionally played by old men in pubs in Britain. That shouldn't put anybody off. It's a really good card game, with several stages, and a good deal of subtlety, and it isn't trivial to learn or play well - "a game of low animal cunning". Check out the rules and give it a whirl. You can play it two, three, or four handed. For convenience you really need a cribbage board to keep score. It has two lines of holes, and you move match sticks along to count your score. Perhaps Brits Eye View will become a vendor of cribbage boards. They can be very basic - just a piece of wood with holes - or you can get them with inscriptions and ivory inlays. Both work equally well. If you need the latter you should probably get some therapy!

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Squalls and showers

Squalls and showers

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22/7/2003 - Bluto

Terry's toe was blue and swollen this morning, and I guess she didn't have a very good nights sleep - there was lots of tossing, turning, and cursing. I can sympathize. A year ago we were in Virginia Beach, and I stubbed one of mine against a grate by a swimming pool, and broke it. Broken toes are pretty painful, but there's not a great deal that can be done to treat them.

CNN announced with glee that US troops had killed Sadam Hussein's two sons. It's possible from what we hear that they deserved it, but you can't believe everything you hear. I couldn't help reflecting that under most circumstances the simultaneous loss of two sons would be regarded as a terrible tragedy. Unless Sadam has fantastic cool, he'll probably make a mistake sometime soon now. The stress must be enormous.

I pressed on with the Windows version of Retro. It broke again when I got to the first example that produces a significant amount of output. It seems that the VC++6 version of stringstream is broken, or at best very inefficient. So I had to detour and make a replacement - a simple memory output buffer. That was much better, so much so in fact that I'll probably take a look at the Linux implementation to see if some improvement is available there. I'll also have to check out another part of the Windows code, because I think the same idea could be applied. Once I'd got through that, Retro could serve up the large data in much the same time as an HTML file of the same size. You can't say fairer than that!

Terry declined the idea of being taken to the pub in a wheelbarrow, and we don't have one anyway, so come five, I went alone. I got thoroughly wet on the way - we're having frequent mini-thunderstorms at the moment. Boris and I discussed European history. Jessica was on duty, and I belatedly got approval for the pictures that have been posted for the best part of a month. On the way back, I noticed that the mushroom bar had a sign outside today saying "Bar Open". Given the intense competition on 2nd Avenue, I don't think that alone is going to hack it.

We ate some of the salmon Terry brought back from New Jersey, with rice, curry sauce, and salad. Now Terry's watching a movie about adultery in suburban New Jersey, and I'm doing this. Catch you later.

Another bar

Another bar

21/7/2003 - Flat Out

I got up early again and worked on Retro from 6:30am to 4:30pm. I'm determined to get it into a solid state while I have chance. Today I got the Windows version built and installed on IIS5 - what a pain, you don't want to know. I got the simplest of the example applications working. But this is a big step. I know now with some certainty that there's nothing but a bit more hard work between now and having a version of Retro that will build and work almost identically on Linux and Windows.

At 4:30 I was ready for a break, so I took a shower and walked up to BJ's, clutching a book called Eyewitness Britain". It's a compendium of eye witness accounts of events in Britain since 55BC. I'm in the late 18th century, and put it down after I'd read a piece by the surgeon who served on the Victory at Trafalgar. This contained not only a very moving account of Nelson's rather slow and agonizing death, but also an interesting section on the ingenuity of British Navy gunnery officers of the time. Nelson did the famous "crossing of the line" to the French navy at Trafalgar, and in the course of this the first few ships got into a complete tangle with their opponents. The first two ships from each navy ended up side by side English, French, English, French, blasting the guts out of each other. The gunnery officers in the Victory were afraid that if they used the usual amount of gunpowder, and single shots, they would blow holes straight through the French ship Redoubtable next to them, and damage the English ship Temeraire on the other side. So they depressed their guns, and loaded half charges and three cannonballs in an attempt to blow the bottom out of the Redoubtable. Since the ships were so close together, many of the casualties were actually caused by musket fire, which was what got Nelson, through his spine.

When I got back, Terry was home. We ate, and later, after I'd been across to the shop, and noticed it was open, we went for a ritual drink on the first night of a new bar - "Merrion Place" - that has suddenly appeared like a mushroom at the end of our block on 2nd Ave.

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Ruppert Park

Ruppert Park - opposite Spirits

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20/7/2003 - A Peaceful Sunday

Once again, I rose quite early. However, I don't have much to show - it seems to have been a lot of work for not much in the way of results. I was continuing to check out the Retro examples after I'd merged the Linux and Windows code. The things I found today weren't to do with the merging, just faults I hadn't noticed the first time round. They all seem to be working now.

I went on to make some changes and (I hope) improvements to the scripts I've provided for creating, or adding to, new Retro projects. In addition, I did succeed in getting another small documentation section written, and another one revised to take account of the script changes.

In the early afternoon, I slipped out to Eli's on 91st Street between 1st and York, to get some decent bread. They didn't have any of the Tuscan loaves that I usually buy, so I got an Olive & Rosemary loaf instead. I have to say that I don't like it as well. But I dare say I'll eat it.

Later on I went out for my Sunday outing. I walked on to 86th Street first, and spent some time browsing in Barnes & Noble, then went for the ritual pitcher of beer at Spirits. There were no Italian girls this time. I called Terry when I got back. She and Sandra had just got back from a shopping trip. I doodled on the computer for a while, then went out to buy some potatoes. But there was one cashier, and a horrendous line at the supermarket, so I ditched them and decided to brave the olive bread. I ate that, salad, and popcorn shrimp, and watched "The hunt for Red October" yet again - an excellent film.

When that was over I was actually ready for bed, but it seemed a bit early, so I took the riverside walk, and wrote this. Now I am off to bed.

Three Italian sistersThree Italian sisters

Three Italian sisters

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19/7/2003 - On My Own Again

Well, having been invited to leave last night, this morning wasn't too bad. I got up at about 10:00am, and Terry wasn't much later. Her mood was in between conciliatory, and what it had been the night before. She'd arranged to go to Sandra's in NJ (before the previous nights events), so she wasn't here long. She left at about 12:00 noon.

I worked until about four, then thought it was time to get some air. I walked on to Spirits, and bought myself a pitcher to sit outside on a beautiful day. I don't go there much, because Terry is banned, having had some sort of run-in with the owner. But on a summer afternoon, it's a good place to go. You can sit outside, and watch the world go by, and there's a park opposite. Apart from the fact that the smokers come out of the bar and do it in your face, it's a pleasant place to hang out.

Three Italian sisters decided to have a drink outside, and invaded the (larger) table of an older man who was there when I arrived. They'd been to see a musical called "Menopause" at the Syringa Tree theatre on 91st Street. I got subsumed into the conversation, and the five of us spent an hour putting the world to rights before we all went on our separate ways. Now I'm back home and thinking about eating - hmm, which I just did. The pasta and sauce were if anything better than yesterday. However, if I relax now, I'll go to sleep, then when eventually I go to bed, I'll get up at the crack of dawn, and get all out of sync, so I'm going out for a good long walk.

OK, I'm back. I found enough change for a bus ride, and caught the bus down 2nd Ave until I got bored with it at 28th Street. This time I walked back up 5th Avenue, and through the park. Now I'll sleep, and get up at a normal hour.

Technicolor parking garage

Technicolor parking garage

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18/7/2003 - What to Say?

We rose quite early. Terry was in a morose mood, and quiet. I tried to find out what was wrong, but got no real answer. She seemed to cheer up some as the day went by. She went out and bought vegetables, and got me some cherries - my favorite fruit. I swept and mopped the kitchen floor, and got her some flowers.

By afternoon, I'd got the code for both operating systems to the point where it would all compile without errors and warnings, so I started on the process of checking out the Linux version to see if it was still working. I came to a dead stop for a while on the first thing I tried. It turned out I had the wrong terminal device name in the description file - drrrr! I volunteered to stop at around three so we could go out for a walk or something, but there was something Terry wanted to watch on the TV, so she said she'd wait until five, and I soldiered on.

At BJ's, Jessica was supposed to be working, but she's been off sick all week, so a somewhat disgruntled John (the manager), and one of the hostesses, who I think may be the back-restaurant manager, were doing the bar. It was quite busy - Friday nights are strange, sometimes nothing, sometimes a crowd.

When we got home, I cooked the scollops with broccoli and penne with an Alfredo sauce. It was good. I should have taken a picture, but we were both hungry, and immediately fell on it. After dinner, at about 9:00, Terry went out to "do some business". I worked for a while then went to bed early.

She arrived home at 3:30am, apparently sober, but wanting to talk. The talk boiled down to the fact that she wanted me out. At 4:30 she called the police to come and remove me from the apartment. They arrived at 5:00, and explained to Terry that they couldn't do that. There was no violence involved, and I had every right to be here. They checked our IDs, filled out a report, got Terry to sign it and left. I guess we finally both went to sleep at about 6:00.

Various reactions

Various reactions

17/7/2003 - Intermission

It was quiet day today. I was stuck in the depths of unifying the Retro Linux and Windows code streams - a tedious and unsatisfying business. The idea is to have as much as possible of the final code the same for both systems, with operating system dependencies separated out into special files. It won't be quite there the first time through. Terry cleaned up the living room and bedroom, talked to the headhunter who'd sent her to the interview, and got her fix of soap.

At five, Terry decided she wasn't going to the pub, but she sent me off with five dollars to get a couple of pints. I sat with Boris, and didn't say much.

When I got back we were going to eat some scollops that Terry had defrosted from one of her trips with Sandra to BJ's (that's the discount shopping BJ's, not the pub). However, Terry got a phone call and decided to take up an invitation to go out for dinner with her friend Daphne. I ate leftovers, napped and continued to work. Terry got back about 10:30, in a pleasant mood. I was ready for a change by then, so she sent me along to American Spirits to get a cheap pitcher of Bud before 11:00. It was karaoke night, so I put myself down to do Hall & Oats' "Sarah Smile". There was a line to sing, so I was a while waiting, and got home at 12:30 - late for me.

Terry was absorbed in some British film on the TV, but I was exhausted, and went straight to bed and out like a light.

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A rooftop jigsaw

A rooftop jigsaw

16/7/2003 - Caught Again

Well, I got my Retro problem sorted out. It was nothing I'd done at all, but I was depending on another piece of software, and it hadn't installed itself properly. Once I'd got that fixed, the star generator worked just fine. So now I've written it up in the documentation, and the next job is to get the Windows version of Retro working the same way as the Apache version, and to merge the code so there's just one set of source files. That's going to be a tedious process. The trick is not to break what's working while trying to get the new stuff going.

Terry didn't get up until late - possibly after noon. I don't know why, because she went to bed quite early. She seemed in a good mood, and succeeded in distracting me from work for a while - quite enjoyably I have to say. At about 3:30 she went out to look at one of the stores she's going to interview for, and we were to meet at BJ's.

She duly arrived, and in good time. Boris was there, and some of the lads from Blondies, including Simon. Apparently Blondies is showing signs of faltering - not enough customers, and too much overhead perhaps. It will be a pity, but we'll see.

The plan was that I would eat one of the steaks she'd bought in New Jersey, and she would have a piece of salmon that was also lurking in the freezer. Everything went under the grill, then she went out for a smoke. When she got back, she was in a different mood. From time to time she tells me I have appalling eating habits. I don't know why. I use a knife and fork when it's not obviously finger food, and I keep my mouth shut when I'm chewing. But apparently I have a habit of striking or scraping the plate with my eating irons, and if she gets into a certain mood, that appears to be a big deal.

We had a session along these lines, after which she went out, coming home at about 11:00pm, toasted. For a while it wasn't a pleasant scene, I'm not going into details. But in the end she went to bed quite early, so it could have been worse.

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Who says New Yorkers aren't friendly

Who says New Yorkers aren't friendly

15/7/2003 - Tentative

Today I worked on some Retro examples that don't generate HTML. There are lots of other things that a web server can send you, and Retro is pretty well suited to applications like that, since it uses compiled code, and should therefore be pretty fast. The first one generated XML, and that went pretty well, but the second, which generated a star image in a graphics file, gave me more trouble, and for the moment I'm stuck.

Terry has an interview for a store manager job at a sporting goods chain store on Thursday, so in the afternoon, she went to check one of them out, and to visit her friend Scott, who's a Radio Shack manager. She went off at about 3:00pm, and we met up at Bother Jimmy's later.

The new girl, Rachel, was behind the bar, see below. She's actually going to work Friday and Saturday, but was filling in for someone else today. There were left overs for supper. Terry had a turkey drumstick she'd cooked the previous day, and I had pork loin, augmented with the garlic mashed potatoes that were left, and with some new spinach.

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Rachel

Slow on the uptake

Slow on the uptake

14/7/2003 - Attempted Work

Terry got up at seven as promised. She showered and dressed, and I made her coffee like a good wife, and kissed her goodbye as she went off to work. Before she discovered the tumor in her leg, she'd taken a Licensed Real Estate Broker course, and got some kind of job with a company that works out of offices down on 59th Street. This wasn't a regular job - she didn't actually get paid for what she did. I was one of those commission only things. But I've been there too in the past, and you could look at Retro as the same sort of speculative investment of effort.

About an hour later I got a disappointed phone call to say that she couldn't do anything there because her password on the computer system had lapsed, and it would be a day or so before some administrator was likely to reset her. In a little while she was back home, and not too distressed. Having exhausted that possibility for the day, she also pursued the option of returning to Radio Shack. To my mind, that would be more promising in our present circumstances, but it may or may not be on. Unfortunately the people she needed to speak to there weren't immediately available, so the day was finally consumed by doing laundry.

I spent the day documenting and checking out the XML parsing and object model facilities in Retro, and caught and fixed some bugs in the process. In no time it was 5:00pm, so we took our break and walked up to BJ's.

Boris was there - steamed up about some waiter who'd upset him later in the day, but he mellowed. Scott was behind the bar. The pretty girl on the left happened to be passing when I stuck my head out of the window clutching the camera. She asked me if I was going to take her picture without pausing in her stride. Sometimes I'm so slow on the uptake that it's sickening. My tongue remained tied, and before I could get the lens zoomed she was yards down the sidewalk. But, whoever you are, the answer was yes.

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The local Projects

The local Projects

HimHim

It's not true

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13/7/2003 - Sunday

Today was another peaceful day. We got up at a reasonable hour. I had my customary breakfast of coffee and toast, then worked. I can hear you yawning already!

In the early afternoon, Terry decided she wanted to walk up to 105th Street to a beauty supplies shop where she knew she could get something she wanted. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but we live right on the borderline of what's considered to be civilized Manhattan. This isn't my viewpoint, but it does seem to be embedded in the city. For example, the parking fines change above 96th Street, if you do something bad further uptown, it costs you less. Also different rules apply to how the taxis do business above 96th Street . Dur-da-dur-da ... (twilight zone sounds). You'd never guess from the picture would you? It looks quite idyllic.

Just uptown of where we live, El Barrio begins. Just above 97th Street, it turns rapidly into the Latino area of East Harlem. The shops change character, and change price. The people are good natured and tolerant, if a little surprised to see you there. So we walked into El Barrio, and found Terry's shop. I lived for some time in South Bronx, so I don't find anywhere in NY to be a particularly scary area. In fact I find the poorer areas to be redolent of my childhood, when people weren't well off, and made their lifestyle and pleasures fit their means.

Terry found what she wanted, and I got treated. Terry bought me a new hair clipper. The one I had originally, which she also bought for me, got left up in the Bronx. The clipper is a treat. I've been making do with a mustache trimmer, and it really didn't hack it for cutting the hair on my head to a short constant length. Now it's a breeze.

The rest of the day was much as you'd guess. We went for a drink around five. Then I cooked my remaining pork chop, and Terry cooked some turkey legs. We ate these with salad. Later, we went for a walk down the river bank, to Gracie Mansion and back, then went to bed quite early since Terry intended to go into the real-estate job quite early on Monday.

I'm lagging. I'll try and catch up in the morning. It's just amazing how busy you can be when you don't have a job!

The pictures? Well it's been said that . . .

The barkeeper

The barkeeper

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12/7/2003 - Requirements in Life

If you think about what you actually need to have a happy life, the list probably runs something like this:
  • 1) Drink (in the most literal sense - i.e. water),
  • 2) Food,
  • 3) Intellectual stimulation,
  • 4) Love - received and given,
  • 5) Sex,
  • 6) A sense of fulfillment.
If you're an addict, it might be necessary to add alcohol, or nicotine, or both, below food, which is pretty sad. Also it has to be said that lots of people get by without items 4, 5, and 6 without being particularly miserable.

It's my personal theory that what's been driving Terry up the wall recently is the lack of item 3 - intellectual stimulation, and to a lesser extent item 6. Her favorite form of intellectual stimulation is conversation. Almost any topic will do. When she worked at Radio Shack she was talking all the time - talking to customers, talking to her staff, talking on the phone to other managers. Now she's stuck at home with me, and conversation is way down my list of intellectual stimuli. At the moment particularly, I'm stuck all day in front of the computer, trying to complete tasks I've set myself. What's more I'm quite happy living like that, it's my preferred form of the life requirement. Consequently I find it irksome to be interrupted, which from Terry's point of view makes things even worse.

She's attacked this over the last couple of days by attacking the apartment. It is now as tidy here as I've seen it for some time. But this can't last. Basically she has to be around people who are talkative, which means that either she's going to have to go out and find a job or vocation - paying or otherwise, or I'm going to have to become garrulous, which is unlikely, and probably wouldn't make me very happy.

Today was pretty much a re-run of yesterday, except that we didn't have the rain, and the food was crab-cakes and salad. The little man on the left stands at the end of the bar at Brother Jimmy's and watches us with his beady eye in case we should get up to something.

Summer squall

Summer squall

All squeaky clean

All squeaky clean

11/7/2003 - Priests and Paupers

I got up quite early, followed quite shortly by Terry. I washed the pots, and she started on the bedroom, which has been a work-in-progress since before she went to stay with Sandra. In a remarkably short time, she'd made quite a transformation. Then she fixed the TV cable connections, which had been in tatters. Any time now, I might be able to move her computer into the bedroom, which was one of the original objectives of the square-up.

After coffee and toast I returned to Retro. The documentation is improving, and it now does most of what the document says. I got the stress test working again with the new version, and had multiple copies of it banging away at my server without apparent problems. I'm going to get to the point soon when I'll have to think of ways of publicizing it again.

Terry went off just before lunchtime to meet an Episcopalian pastor who had volunteered to talk to her. She wasn't gone long, since it turned out the guy had double-booked himself. She brought back goodies - asparagus, chocolate and cherries.

This evening she did come up to Brother Jimmy's with me. The downpour in the picture happened after we'd been there a little while, and went as quickly as it came, leaving the streets feeling fresh and clean. Jessica was working, but she hadn't checked out her pictures yet, so I don't know if they are a fixture. John the manager was wearing long pants instead of shorts. Terry remarked on it - for some reason they made him look quite different.

At seven, we went home via Key Food and cooked again. Terry had tilapia fish, and I had a pork chop, accompanied by pasta and the asparagus. There was a pretty depressing film about Jim Morrison (of The Doors) on the TV, which somehow I felt compelled to watch

On this day in 1533, Henry VIII of England had a more exciting day. Having divorced his first wife, and kicked catholicism into touch to form the Church of England, he was excommunicated by Pope Clement VII. He didn't allow this to change his lifestyle!

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Anheuser-Busch Paranoia

Anheuser-Busch Paranoia

10/7/2003 (continued) - Perhaps Not

Sorry about the lousy picture. I'll try and get a better angle on it and replace it. It exemplifies a current phenomenon. In the bottom left corner, in very small print, the ad is attributed. It's from the US mega brewery company Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), which has recently taken to making beers that appear designed to challenge certain popular imported beers. There's "World Select", which just by chance tastes rather like Stella Artois, and the one in the picture. I haven't tried it, but I rather wonder if it tastes a bit like Guinness. It might be blander to suit the American taste for sweet things. If I ever get round to tasting it, I'll let you know, or perhaps a reader has. Let us know please.

The day didn't turn out too badly. Terry didn't go to the pub, and didn't drink much at home, and was in fact quite personable and pleasant all day. I have to confess that I (the other alki) did go to the pub. But I was late, and couldn't get a seat, and there was nobody there I knew, so I didn't stay long.

Also it seems that Terry doesn't like the idea of the demise of Brits Eye View, so we may be on for a reprieve.

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Obituary notice

Obituary notice

10/7/2003 - End of the Road?

As I said way back, to do something like BEV you have to be prepared to live your life in a goldfish bowl. If you're in a relationship, or more specifically a marriage, you also need the tacit or explicit agreement of your partner to this state of affairs.

I don't think I have Terry's agreement any more, and I can understand that. I shall probably attempt to struggle on, since I'm a stubborn bastard. But the contents of the page are likely to become rather bland, given that I don't have a helicopter and a press card to get me to interesting places at the right time.

Feedback on this subject would be welcome - I've started a topic "Future of BEV" under general comments. Click the "Post Reply" button please. You're the readers. What should I do?

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True love

True love

On this day - top of page

9/7/2003 - Slightly different

Sleeping or otherwise, Terry woke at about 11:30am. I'd been working on Retro - surprise, surprise, but I'm making quite good progress. She was OK, to the degree that she offered me the choice of an order of events, nookie first, or reading the web page first. You can guess which I chose, I'd doubtless have been SOL if she'd done the reading first. However, the page survived without censorship.

In the afternoon, at about 1:30, I had to go to the bank to pay in a check so I'd be sure I could safely write the rent check. I also had a check I'd got from the health care company to take to the sinus surgeon at NYU. Given the fact that I walked down to 79th Street to the bank, and caught a bus back so I'd get the transfer after the subway down (you can go from bus to train, or train to bus, and your journey is continued), I made good time. I was back by 2:30, and to my pleasant surprise, Terry was bored, but still hanging in there.

We went to BJ's at 5:30. Jessica was behind the bar, and posed for me - see below. Seven o'clock came around, but Terry was still absorbed with the take-your-money machine. I figure these things are outside my control, so I went off to buy the odds and ends we needed for supper, with money Terry gave me. I got some red potatoes, tomatoes, and some flounder for her. I was to eat one of the steaks she'd brought back from the stay with Sandra. I had no idea when she'd turn up, so I made salad, boiled potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs, then cooked my steak. I was eating it when she returned. She decided she wasn't hungry.

After I'd eaten, I was apparently becoming tedious - probably because I said she should eat something. I was therefore invited to go out somewhere and leave her some space, which I'll probably do as soon as I've finished this. It seemed like a reasonable suggestion. However, the final outcome was as bad as ever.

        

Fame?

Terry expressing an opinion

Terry expressing an opinion

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8/7/2003 - Variations on a Theme

Once again Terry woke in a state of enlightenment after noon. She wanted hugs and kisses, and was absolutely repentant. She wasn't going to make me unhappy any more. Once she was out of bed, I began to clean up the accumulated heap of dirty dishes in the kitchen, with a view to making a bit of lunch. I hadn't been in the mood for washing up either of the two previous days. Terry had to go across to the deli to get something, and I asked her to get a loaf of rye bread while she was there.

Of course she was gone for an hour or so, and came back worse for wear. I tried to stay cool. In the ensuing discussion she told me that not only was she sneaking out at every opportunity to drink, but also that she's been seeing her ex-boyfriend Bruce - on a platonic basis of course. I wasn't pleased about that either.

She was showing signs of getting het-up, so I bit my tongue, and continued to work on Retro. Later she got changed - obviously to go out. We were to go to Brother Jimmy's again, I could go or stay, as pleased. I reckoned I might as well go, so I got showered and changed. When I was ready she reminded me that she had asked me to print out a picture I'd taken of the new bartender - Rachel. For some reason I had difficulty getting this to print, so she lost patience and went on ahead. Five minutes later I followed with the picture and walked up to BJ's to find she wasn't there. I couldn't stay and wait since I don't have a penny to my name today except for what has to pay the rent, so I'm back home writing.

I presumed she'd appear eventually, so about 6:00 I wandered back up. She arrived at about 6:30. I asked where she'd been, but was told it was none of my business. I was sitting with Boris at the front of the bar. The guy next to us moved along to make room for her, but she went to sit at the end of the bar by the eats-your-money machine. She told Jamie that she'd pay for my beer, for which thanks Terry, though I'd already been to the ATM, just in case. I stayed until seven - the end of the happy hour cheap beer, then went home. But I had no interest in cooking, so after a bit, I caught a bus down to 28th Street, and went to Curry In a Hurry for some chicken tikka and tarka dahl. Then washed it down at the Waterfront for a while - they have a weekly beer bargain. I walked back, a long walk, and didn't get back until around midnight. Surprisingly, Terry was in bed, either asleep, or unconscious.

Must've been the gator

Must've been the gator

7/7/2003 - Another Day

Today was a slight variant on the previous ones. It started the usual way. Terry woke early afternoon, and swore that from now on things would be different. Romeo was there, since he'd come in with her at 4:30 in the morning.

At about 3:30 they went out, ostensibly for a smoke. Of course, they were gone for a couple of hours. Eventually, around 5:00, she phoned me and asked if I was coming up to Brother Jimmy's, so I walked up. Boris was there, and Terry and Romeo turned up at 5:30. She'd already been drinking.

At 6:30 I told her I was almost ready to leave, and she said she'd be ready to go when I did. So I finished my pint, then said, OK, let's be off. She refused, and said she'd lied about being ready to leave. So I walked back to the apartment and got something to eat, then worked on the page for a while, then had a quick nap. I haven't had a good nights sleep lately. Then I walked back up to see if I could pry her out of the pub.

After about half an hour, the people who there persuaded her she should leave. Romeo came to get his stuff from the apartment, and went home. As soon as he'd gone, Terry got into full abusive mode, and soon went out again. The choicest of the remarks I can remember was in the context of my being unemployed, and was "I married a man, not a bum". I followed her out, hoping to dissuade her from further drinking, but soon realized it was a thankless task. All she had to do was get in a taxi - I had no money to follow. So I went home to bed.

She came home a little earlier, about 3:00am, and didn't make too much fuss. I was simply instructed to get over to the other side of the bed, and not to touch her. At the time, that suited me fine. Nights like this are getting to be very stressful, so anything that minimizes the agro is welcome.

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6/7/2003 - On Bliss

I've been working on a section for my new book - "How to have a blissful relationship in a one-bedroom NY apartment". This particular part is about coming-home-drunk-in-in-the-early-hours etiquette. It's intended to apply to the hours after about 4:00am, and is a do and don't section. Let's get right in there.
  • Do try not to stay out very late too often when you're out without your partner.
  • Do try to avoid bringing friends, or complete strangers, home with you in the small hours of the morning without prior warning.
  • Do eat whatever you need before you come home.
  • Do try to remember that your partner might want a full night's sleep.
  • Do try to keep the time between when you come in, and when you go to bed, to under an hour, and preferably go to bed before it gets light.
  • Do remember to remove sharp, protruding jewelry before you come to bed.
  • Do put the jewelry in a safe place so the friends you brought home don't steal it.
  • Do remember that your partner's patience is not infinite, and that if you ignore the do's and don'ts regularly, your partner will probably become disposed to run off with the first alternative man/woman who comes down the pike.
There really aren't that many do's, and I notice that most of them tend to be a bit negative. But I'm sure this still needs work, so let's press on.
  • Don't rush into the bedroom, turn the light on, then jump on your partner and say honey I'm home, how's about a big kiss. He/she without doubt already knows you're home, because he/she's been lying awake for hours wondering where the fuck you were, and certainly knew you came in because you sounded like a herd of elephants. He/she is not going to feel lovey-dovey.
  • Don't argue at the top of your voice with the person(s) you brought home, and if you must have the TV or stereo on, don't adjust the volume so you can hear it while you're arguing.
  • Don't prepare your take-away food in the kitchen while conducting the argument. This applies particularly if the kitchen is right outside the bedroom door, and if you're drunk enough that your aim with utensils is not good.
  • In July, August, or September, in an apartment with a single air conditioner, don't close the bedroom door so you can make all this noise without disturbing your partner. For a start, it doesn't work - the walls are paper thin, and for a second, your partner is going to fry in there.
  • Don't throw the cat into the bedroom because it's annoying your guest(s). It will scratch at the door for ever trying to get out, thus adding to your partner's misery.
  • When you eventually come to bed, don't expect your partner to be enthusiastic. He/she is probably ready to kill you by now.
  • When you turn over on to your back, don't flip your arm over and smack your partner in the mouth. This applies particularly if you're still wearing the sharp, protruding jewelry. It can cause nasty cuts to the face. Also you snore like a donkey when you're lying on your back.
  • Don't expect miracles in the morning, or the afternoon, or whenever you surface.
I don't have any pictures that illustrate these principles well, so today's entry will have to remain unadorned.

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Night - home of the creatures

Night - home of the creatures

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5/7/2003 - Same Old Crap

Terry arrived home at about 4:30am. Her head was turning round on her neck, and green ectoplasm was coming out of her mouth. What more did I expect? I'd had little or no sleep, since I was lying there waiting to see what black mood she'd be in when she got back. I think it's called the "battered husband" syndrome. Her mood was not a disappointment. By about six, she'd calmed down enough to go to sleep. Then I was able to do the same, and slept fitfully until about 11:00am. She didn't surface until two.

Surprisingly, I made some progress on Retro, and got the simpler examples working with the new version. This was not without its problems. I was debugging to a remote terminal on my Windows machine, and I always forget that you have to make the device file writeable in order to do this - durrrr! Also, in the course of rewriting the signal handling, I'd introduced a nice little deadlock into the worker-thread code. These things are so obvious when you finally tumble, but until then . . .

Terry was OK when she finally got up, but that state of affairs didn't last long. She seems to be on a slippery slope now, and started drinking anything she could find in the apartment almost immediately. As I write, she's off on some mysterious mission to 'resolve our future'. She phoned later to say she was at Panorama, and would I like to join here. But I've spent my very limited budget for the day, so I declined. I'll probably regret it! Instead, I walked up the East River footpath to 125th Street, then back down 2nd Avenue - a long enough walk so I'll probably sleep well, barring interruptions.

Fireworks

Fireworks

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4/7/2003 - Independence Day

This is not an auspicious anniversary as far as the British are concerned. We lost one of our most prosperous and profitable colonies, and what's more, to celebrate, the Americans wrote a constitution so they'd be mired in the attitudes of the 18th century for the next N hundred years. Ah well, c'est la vie.

Terry arrived back with Sandra at about four. We were supposed to make a picnic and go down by the river to watch the fireworks. Unfortunately, when Terry got back, she was already blasted, so that put the mockers on the plans for the evening.

She went to sleep at about 8:30. There was nothing on the TV, and I was bored so I tried to wake her to see if she'd walk down to watch the fireworks, but she was immovable. I walked down to the river at 86th Street by myself to see if I could get any sort of pictorial impression. The camera was just about up to it, but I really needed the remote control and a tripod. But in the crowd down there, you wouldn't have found anywhere to put it. My results were therefore not wonderful, I could not hold the camera steady enough at the required long zoom. But I've included one of the best for what it's worth. The bridge is the 59th Street bridge.

Walking back, I was reminded of the topic of the previous day. If you'd been five or six miles from Gettysburg then it would probably have sounded similar. "March toward the sound of the guns."

Terry woke at about midnight, phoned Romeo, and arranged to meet him at Brother Jimmy's. In the vague but implausible hope of exerting some influence on the outcome, I went with her. She ordered the goldfish bowl full of 'swamp water', which is supposed to serve about six idiots. I realized then that hope is not an infuential factor, finished my beer, and went home.

Mahhattan has hills

Mahhattan has hills

Pickett's charge

Pickett's charge

On this day - top of page

3/7/2003 - Head Down, but Making Progress

I was talking about the size of the hills around Gettysburg yesterday. Just for the record, I thought I might illustrate what I meant. The picture on the left is part of my walk home from our local pub. This is much steeper than you'll find in most places on the Gettysburg battlefield. Consider that and think of panoramic views of Manhattan that you've seen. From a distance, it looks like it's barely above sea level, while in fact there are some quite distinct heights, particularly uptown, in the area of the aptly named Washington Heights. In the picture, it's quite clear to me why I would prefer to be defending from the camera viewpoint rather than attacking from below. But we'll get back to that later.

On another subject, I realize I've been bandying words lately, so what's GCC, and what's Gnu. Well, there's this movement, or international order, or whatever you want to call it, that believes computer software should be open to all in the broadest sense. They feel you should be able to get software for nothing, and not only that, but that you should be free to modify it as you think fit, and to pass the modifications on to others under the same conditions. Linux is a computer operating system that's been developed by this group of people. Interestingly, Scandinavia, Germany, and Eastern Europe are the hotbed of these fanatics.

I have some sympathy with this view, since I observe that I've been in the computer software business in some capacity for as long as Bill Gates. Now he's worth $100 billion, and I'm worth nothing, so I have developed anarchistic tendencies.

I have my own little project, which is called Retro. If you have any inclination to know what it's about, click on the link and follow it from there. But that's not what I'm getting at. I'm just trying to give you a vague feeling of why I spend whole days working on things that will probably never do a thing for me in financial terms. There's lots of software out there that we all depend on, for instance for our browsing of a large part of the WWW. It's been written by other people who were prepared to donate some of their time to the general good - so un-american. Think about it though. By the time the capitalist system has exported all our jobs to Africa, we'll have to find something to amuse ourselves.

Anyway, back to the battle. Most of what you'll hear about the third day concerns "Pickett's Charge". If other Confederate actions that day had been more resolute, the outcome might well have been different. The Confederate commander Robert E. Lee decided to try and finish the thing by making an assault with about 18,000 men on the Union center on Cemetery Hill. Given the hard time that the Union troops had on the previous two days, and the fact that the Union army was basically in awe of Lee's army, this could have been a good decision. Pickett achieved his fame (or infamy) because his division was the primary source of manpower for the attack, though by no means all of it.

The word charge probably doesn't give the right picture. It was an infantry attack, from about a mile away. When you're carrying a heavy musket or rifle, and your ammunition, and your other stuff, you don't run a mile, you walk. However, the event was also a considerable artillery duel. The Confederate artillery laid down a record barrage before the attack, mostly aimed too high (it's them hills again, messing things up). The Union artillery held most of it's fire for the main event, which they knew was coming. So the 18,000 men were walking through a hail of shrapnel shells, cannister, and cannon balls. Not a pleasant walk. The cannon balls were aimed so they skimmed the ground, ideally bouncing along low enough so they would take the legs off any group of infantry they passed through. In the last 200 yards this was augmented by intense musket/rifle fire from the Union infantry. The Confederate troops had converged on a target point, with the result that the Union troops could fire at them from each side and from in front. A few hundred Confederate infantry reached the Union lines on Cemetery Ridge, but they were soon driven off, and the survivors retreated. Lee's reputation was such that the Union commander, Meade, declined to counter attack, and the Confederate army, now outnumbered, retreated the next morning, to fight again on many other days.

Do you have a web page that is 'under construction', or always out-of-date. The Brit has some experience in dealing with this situation - it's something that has to be done every day! For a small monthly fee (starting at $25/month), your web page can be regularly updated too. Call Steve at 212-996-9585, or email, if you think you could use this service.

You might also want to check out the Windows application "Publicity". Use it for making labels, business cards, flyers, tickets and such. Just run the executable, and it will install itself (only!).

Please page down for the rest of the month. We don't bite!

The Sickles salient

The Sickles salient

Little Round Top

Little Round Top

2/7/2003 - Head Down

I spent most of today working on the Retro software, and got two quite difficult things worked out. I hope that this time the Gnu C++ Standard Library stuff will be reasonably stable. It's changed a lot since my last effort, and I would not want to have to revisit this every time there was a new release of GCC. The rest was just changes I've imposed on myself as design improvements.

June 2nd, 1863, was the second day of Gettysburg, and the actions on that day were large scale, and complex. The famous events of the day were at the south of the Union position. There for a start, the Union general Sickles, who was probably more of a politician than a general, had disobeyed quite specific orders, and moved his two divisions forward of the intended line of defense along Cemetery Ridge.

This was probably a mixed blessing, since it could be argued that the ensuing 'defense in depth', albeit a shambles, disorganized the attacking Confederate troops as much as it did the Union plan. Nonetheless, it was left to about 250 Wisconsin infantrymen to stop the Confederate advance through the Union left flank by making a sacrificial charge. This gave the Union general Hancock the five minutes he needed to get a sufficient body of troops on to the originally planned line of defense. Only 47 of the 250 were still fit for service after this event, but the Confederate infantry were also exhausted, and the position was held.

The other famous pivot point was at Little Round Top, a small hill to the south of the Wisconsin regiment's sacrifice. There at the extreme left of the union position, the 20th Maine Regiment, under Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, more or less ran out of ammunition, and bayonet charged the opposing Alabama 15th Regiment as they attacked. They weren't quite expecting this, and fell back in disorder. Once again the left flank was saved by a few minutes, as the Maine men were reinforced and relieved soon after.

If you go to Gettysburg, you'll find that the ridges and hills that are mentioned in the accounts are not much to look at in terms of height. But hills have always been much valued by the military. You can see more from a hill, projectiles go further when they're going downhill, and it's harder work walking quickly uphill. But I think mainly that it's because men fight better when they're looking down on the opposition, even if it's only a little bit down.

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A blaze of sunflowers

A blaze of sunflowers

Reenacters on Seminary Ridge 1998

Reenacters on Seminary Ridge 1998

1/7/2003 - A New Month

Gorgeous day again - the sunflowers say it all. However, since there's no activity on the job front, a sombre activity was called for, and I walked along to 85th Street to talk to our lawyer Peter about what to do on the financial front. I'll tell you about it later. Then I had to go to the bank and pay in my hoarded unemployment benefit checks so we can pay the rent. When that's paid, I'll be taking up a new profession standing on the corner with a tin cup.

When I got back, I had to do the web page switch from May to June, so it's all a bit bare at the moment. I have to move all the current files into a new June 2003 folder on the web server, then adjust the previous and next links for May, June, and the current month, and then burn a CD backup. Then of course I have to find something to say. But first things first - I'm hungry, so a cheese and tomato sandwich is called for.

Today is the first day of the anniversary of the civil war battle at Gettysburg. At about this time (about 3pm) on that July 1st, in 1863, outnumbered federal infantry and artillery were being forced back of the brow of Seminary Ridge, to the west of the town, by larger numbers of confederate infantry. An hour later they would be broken, and retire though the town in some confusion, and with considerable losses. Althought a defeat for the day, the day went, if to anyone, to the Union general John Buford, who was there first. He skilfully deployed his cavalry brigade as infantry, starting well in front of the point he really intended to try and hold (Seminary Ridge), and falling back when in danger of being overwhelmed. In this way he allowed time for the federal infantry to reach the field. They in turn held the confederate infantry long enough, and with enough damage, that the day was inconclusive, rather than all being lost.

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