Saturday, December 25, 2010

Handyman Skills?

One of the annoyances about our apartment is that part of the light in our bathroom was detached and dangling. A very slow, drawn-out process involved me trying to fix it (no dice), our landlord's handy friend trying to fix it (no), and then us getting the go-ahead from the landlord to call a handyman to fix it. Of course, this involves finding someone and calling to set up an appointment, which was taking forever to get around to do. So, I tried again. It turned out the part in question was stripped and pretty much hopeless for screwing back in, so I settled for some electrical tape. I think it looks pretty much OK though.

Also, I made rigged this awesome litter wall to keep Jess from making such a mess. She loves to dig litter out of her box and put it in piles on the floor. Hopefully this will improve the situation.

Cats Like Christmas Presents Too

They come in boxes and have ribbons.

A Walk Around the McCarty Property

We were in Indiana last weekend and stayed with Sara and Kev, Erin's sister and brother-in-law.

Cat in a Bag

Sara and Kev's kitty Nala loves paper bags even more than Jess does.

Chocolate Walking Tour

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Long Weekend To-Do List

  • figure out ipod
  • finish configuring virtual machine
  • rearrange bedroom
  • finish scanning maps
  • draft trip report
  • date night with lovely wife
  • install thermostat
  • fix fridge light
  • blog photos
  • pick up books at library
  • finish ordering stuff
  • clean out e-mail
  • tidy office closet
  • sort cable box
  • put toll thing and new sticker in car
  • open presents
  • ask question about tiny note-taking devices
  • shovel back stairs
  • wash Bucky Beaver
  • do laundry
  • send off old film 
  • clean litter box
  • tidy litter box
  • replace bathroom lite bulbs
  • try to fix bathroom light again
  • give to wikipedia
  • go exploring with lovely wife
  • mess with boxes
  • go to gathering downstairs
  • call folks

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Claw

Found on a sidewalk in Cambridge.

First Snow in Cambridge, Mass

A tidbit for our Minnesota friends. Here is the first Massachusetts snow of the season.

Creepy Christmas Decorations

I find these animatronic lighted flamingoes a bit unnerving. They are on the walk from home to Porter Square train station (and vice versa).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reading My Height In Books, In a Year, Three Times

One of the things that I love to do is read books. And I read a ton of books. Six years ago, I started keeping a list of what I read, along with how thick the books are. The goal: read my height in books in a year. I just finished my 72nd book of 2010, which put me over the top for the 3rd time. It seemed like a good time for reflection on the project.

Here are the data for the six more-or-less complete years I've been counting:

 Year   Books   Meters   Reids 
2005 61 1.34 0.73
2006 60 1.54 0.85
2007 75 2.03 1.11
2008 78 2.00 1.10
2009 56 1.38 0.75
2010 72 1.85 1.01

Since October 2004, I've read 418 books, which collectively would take up 10.5 meters of shelf space, or 5.7 times my height (a pretty hefty bookshelf).

I decided that for a lifetime achievement, I would read a football field's worth of books; so far, I've made it roughly 11% of the way. I'm on track to achieve this goal. At 11.4% per 6.25 years, that's 55 years to read 100%, or 49 more to go. That would make me 80 years old, which is quite feasible. Obviously the rate varies according to circumstances, but I assume it will go up in retirement, perhaps way up.

I also rate the books, in terms of how much I think others should read them. The most meaningful or important books get the "classic" rating, and these 24 books are:
  • Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
  • Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions 
  • Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
  • Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
  • Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
  • Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
  • Joseph T. Hallinan, Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Above Average
  • John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me
  • Edward Lazarus, Closed Chambers: The First Eyewitness Account of the Epic Struggles Inside the Supreme Court
  • Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
  • Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations ... One School at a Time
  • Donald Norman, The Design of Everyday Things
  • Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
  • Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
  • Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking 
  • Sister Helen Prejean, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions 
  • Piers Paul Read, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors
  • Robert B. Reich, Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America
  • Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Elizabeth Royte, Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash
  • Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, and Jim Dwyer, Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted
  • James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Businesses, Economies, Societies, and Nations
  • Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information 
  • Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
    So there's your how-to-be-a-better-person reading list, according to me.

    Finally, if you want to follow along on my grand adventure, here is the list of books. There's no RSS feed, but I do tweet each book as I record it.

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Weekend To-Do List

    • Finish scanning maps
    • Clean out e-mail
    • Clean out Google Reader
    • Blog photo
    • Tidy office closet
    • Sort cable box
    • Clean off table
    • Organize/rearrange bedroom
    • Date night with lovely wife
    • Buy some presents
    • Put toll thing and new sticker in car 
    • Chocolate tour

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Who Is Susanne?

    One of the odder graffiti in my neighborhood. Who is Susanne? And why is she depicted as a cat who has left a giant steaming turd?

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Leaf Pattern

    I'm pretty pleased by the composition here, but it needs a lot more depth of field.

    Franklin Park Zoo Gorilla


    I would have thought this crack would go around, or at least be affected by, the nub.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Weekend To-Do List

    • Clean razor
    • Finish scanning maps
    • Clean out e-mail
    • Blog photos
    • Tidy office closet
    • Sort cable box
    • Clean off table
    • Organize food
    • Date night with lovely wife
    • Go to zoo
    • Send refund to trip folks
    • Read and respond to CHI rebuttals

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Home-made Marshmallows

    More in Erin's "beautiful food" series.

    Jess on Red Area Rug

    Lavender Houses Have Bears

    I walk by this house on my commute to Porter Square.

    Brussel Sprouts, Bacon, Onion

    Sometimes when Erin makes up a recipe, it ends up really interesting, in this case visually.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Happy Men

    Additions to a men's restroom sign at Jamaica Pond, Boston, encountered on an urban walk Erin and I took with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston Chapter, Hiking & Backpacking Committee.


    Seen on my walk to Porter Square station. Unfortunately, I suspect this little guy is not long for this world.


    These are some trees outside the IBM building in Cambridge.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Cats are Helpers

    Put the warm laundry on the bed and for the next several hours there was this...

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Weekend To-Do List

    • Clean razor
    • Scan maps
    • Clean out e-mail
    • Clean out Google Reader
    • Blog photos
    • Talk to realtor
    • Clean litter box
    • Tidy office closet
    • Sort cable box
    • Clean off table
    • Organize food
    • Date night with lovely wife
    • Shop for food

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    Weekend To-Do List

    • Organize/tidy kitchen
    • Clean out e-mail
    • Clean out Google Reader
    • Try to get rid of printer
    • Blog photos
    • E-mail realtor
    • Clean litter box
    • Tidy office closet
    • Sort cable box
    • Date night with lovely wife
    • Emerald Necklace hike/walk

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    The Lottery: You Have to Play

    Seen in a Boston convenience store window. Apparently they are very serious about the lottery here in Massachusetts.

    Segway Dealer

    In Cambridge, there is a Segway dealer. In that Segway dealer, there is a dog.

    ("Segway of Boston" notwithstanding, it's in Kendall Square near where I work.)

    New Englanders Like Their Stone

    One of the things that I've noticed living in New England is that stone is a very popular building material. Even for basketball courts.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Weekend To-Do List

    • Install DVD drive
    • Shop for clothes
    • Organize/tidy kitchen
    • Clean out e-mail
    • Clean out Google Reader
    • Try to get rid of printer
    • Dim sum with colleagues
    • Watch boat race
    • Organize bookmarks
    • Blog photos
    • Send out financial report for canyon trip
    • E-mail realtor
    • Figure out bike storage
    • Shop for groceries
    • Do laundry
    • Put up bulletin board
    • Put up towel rods
    • Clean litter box

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Not Art

    This afternoon, I took the long way home & made some photographs.

    Just so you know though, this is not art; viz:

    More P

    New Business Cards Say "Dr."

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Intrigued by P

    I am intrigued by this P.

    Black and white or color?

    As for background, this P (and its twin, not pictured) label a parking garage near Kendall Square that I pass on my way to work. It also has a bright red neon sign that reads "DANGER VEHICLE EXITING" or somesuch all the time, regardless of whether there is a car coming.

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    The Worst Error Message in the World, Part II

    The other day I wanted to set up my new printer on my Debian box, which uses the CUPS printing system. Supposedly this is pretty easy. I downloaded a PPD file from Brother and used the CUPS web interface to add the printer. It saw the printer already so it was just a matter of going through a few wizard screens, right? Not so much:

    Bad device-uri "socket://"!

    OK, so I googled around a bit, looked in the readme, and you can do this using the command-line interface too. The program "lpinfo" shows all the visible printers, including "socket://" which matches the IP address of the printer. I then use "lpadmin" to add the printer. Easy, right? Not so much:

    lpadmin: Bad device-uri "socket://"!

    CUPS has a log. Maybe it has useful information on what's going wrong? Not so much:

    CUPS-Add-Modify-Printer client-error-not-possible: Bad device-uri "socket://"!

    Two hours of screwing around later, including verifying that I can ping the printer and even telnet to it on all the right ports, I give up and decide to try removing and reinstalling the package. There's too many dependencies for this, so I settle for reconfiguring it. And guess what? CUPS on Debian has a notion of "backend programs" that can be turned off. It is not mentioned in the README. And "socket" was turned off.

    So if you have this problem, try:

    dpkg-reconfigure cups

    and ensure that your desired printing interfaces are active.

    Filed as Debian bug #599660.


    Arrived in the mail a few days ago.

    I bought a frame for it today but managed to break the glass while putting in the diploma. Sigh. Anyone know where to get a sheet of 11x14 framing glass with minimal effort?

    Weekend To-Do List

    • Clean out e-mail
    • Clean out Google Reader
    • Date night with lovely wife
    • Get rid of printer
    • Pay bills
    • Investigate new Firefox sync
    • Send out financial report for canyon trip
    • E-mail realtor
    • Try to figure out bike storage
    • Go to post office
    • Go to Target
    • Go to non-hippie grocery store
    • Clean off table
    • Put up shelf in bathroom
    • Tidy up office
    • Tidy up bedroom
    • Organize books
    • Choose health plan & enroll
    • Blog diploma pic
    • Blog crappy printer setup experience
    • Ask shadow question on photo.SE
    • Put up framed diploma and bulletin board

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Organizing Tools

    We moved from a 1,100-square-foot house in Minneapolis to a 1,100-square-foot condo in Cambridge. The problem is that the house also had a full basement and an attic.

    In particular, we had tools and hardware filling a hall closet plus more scattered through the basement. Now they mostly fit on this shelf, which I just completed organizing at great effort. There are also six tool boxes in the closet and a few other knicknacks here and there, and we did put a fair bit in the Goodwill pile (e.g., we now have three plant timers instead of six). Erin was impressed, which always makes me happy.

    This spider came by to check things out and admire my handiwork:

    Apple Picking

    Went apple picking today with friends Andrew & Emily and their son, in West Boylston.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    Wife: Husband Is Clever

    The other day Erin told me how cleverly I had hung up the camelbak hose on the microwave. I thought OK and went back to whatever I was doing.

    Later, I went into the kitchen and found this:

    ... which I did not do. I had just hung it off the cupboard handle which is above the microwave.

    (The hose has a magnet on the bite valve so you can more easily stick it to your chest strap. That's how it's stuck to the microwave.)

    Weekend To-Do List

    The return!
    • Clean out e-mail
    • Clean out Google Reader
    • Write blog glue for Bibble
    • Request books from library
    • Cancel Qwest
    • Organize tools & other junk in office
    • Hang shelf in bathroom
    • Hang pictures
    • Date night with lovely wife
    • Apple picking with Emily & Andrew
    • Get rid of printer
    • Pay bills
    • Investigate new Firefox sync
    • Submit to Daily WTF
    • Send out financial report for canyon trip
    • Fix e-mailing of blog posts
    • Set up automatic tweeting of blog posts
    • E-mail realtor
    • Try to figure out bike storage

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    It's Official

    Received the following e-mail just now:

    Dear Reid,

    Congratulations! You have completed all requirements for your Ph D degree in Computer Science. Your degree award will be awarded 8/31/2010.

    Your official transcript will be updated, to show the award of the degree, 2-3 weeks following the award date. Official transcripts may be obtained from the One Stop office. Your diploma will be mailed to you 4-6 weeks following the award date by the One Stop office. [...]

    Congratulations on your accomplishments at the University of Minnesota. We wish you all the best with your new endeavors.


    Stacia Madsen
    Coordinator, Doctoral Degree Services

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Weekend To-Do List

    • AdWords to house blog post
    • Go to John's bachelor party
    • See Joel for lunch
    • Wrap John's presents
    • Pack suitcase for Ben
    • Pack for trip
    • Paint garage numbers
    • Work on identifying stuff for us to take in car
    • Sort out workbench
    • Send out food update for trip

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Beautiful South Minneapolis Home for Sale; Will It Be Yours?

    We are selling our wonderful South Minneapolis home. It's in a truly great location:
    • Just 4 blocks to the 38th Street light rail station; you can be downtown in under 20 minutes with no worries about parking.
    • Roosevelt Library is a 3 minute walk.
    • A family-owned hardware store is 4 blocks away.
    • Lake Hiawatha is 4 blocks away.
    • Neighborhood is filled with mature trees.
    • A variety of restaurants, coffee shops, auto repair, a bakery, and other locally owned businesses are within a 10 minute walk.
    It is a two-bedroom home with a third nonconforming bedroom which could be used as an office, playroom, etc. There is also a semi-finished space in the basement that we use as a TV room. Other perks include:
    • Hardwood floors
    • Two-car garage with automatic opener, newly painted
    • Organic gardens
    • Updated appliances, including high-efficiency front-loading washer
    • New water heater
    • New insulation blown into walls
    • Central A/C
    • Tons of storage in the basement, including built-in shelves
    The neighbors are friendly and quiet.

    Updated: The list price is $129,900.

    Living room has two beautiful picture windows, one east-facing to catch the morning light. Front entry has a closet for your winter clothes and room behind the door for a snow shovel.

    Dining and living rooms have a spacious and flexible open-plan layout with south-facing windows for lots of light.

    The dining room is the hub of the house. It's an efficient layout and easy to get from one room to another quickly.

    The carpet was just professionally cleaned and looks nearly new, and underneath is hardwood if that's what you prefer.

    Kitchen has updated appliances and new sink. Plenty of cupboard space and right by the back door for easy unloading.

    Master bedroom has hardwood floors. West window gives beautiful, soft light in the evenings.

    Second bedroom also has hardwood floors and an east-facing window for morning light.

    Bathroom is very well lit whether it's light or dark outside. Bathtub/shower surround has just been redone. Low-flow toilet is new.

    Upstairs non-conforming bedroom is extremely spacious and has two very large closets for storage. It runs the length of the house and catches both morning and evening light.

    Two-car garage with automatic door and storage in the rafters is freshly painted.

    See also the MLS listing.

    If you're interested, you'll be dealing with Charlie Leimer, our realtor. He's a friendly guy and will treat you and your agent fairly, with respect, and promptly. Relationships matter in this complicated business and Charlie is a good person to work with. He was Erin's agent when she bought the home in 2004, and we sought him out deliberately when it was time to move on. Let me know and we'll put you in touch, or you can contact him directly at or 612-310-3975.

    Also please do not hesitate to e-mail me if you have any questions about the home ( We have been very happy in it, and I'm sure you would be too.