Flew into New Jersey yesterday afternoon. New Jersey is a lot like Emeryville, but bigger. Towering piles of shipping containers scattered about. Huge loading cranes that resemble AT-ATs. And of course the requisite IKEA store.
Took a cab to Manhattan at what must have been the worst possible time. Traffic was clogged in both directions (into and out of the city), and it took almost two hours to get to my hotel, and that was with my cabbie's crazy driving. Luckily for me, the fare was a flat fee. Time enough to collapse on the bed for a few minutes, shower, dress up for the theatre, hop in a taxi and arrive fifteen minutes before the show.
Aysan was amazing. The second to last evening show of Pericles was a veritable delight. Aysan played the part of "Thaisa", a princess who eventually marries Pericles, is presumed to die after having a daughter (Marina) at sea, gets tossed overboard unconscious in a box which then washes up on shore and is found by a physician who revives her, becomes a nun at a temple of one of the gods, and finally sixteen or so years later, is reunited with Pericles who has come to pray and offer his thanks at that very same temple for having found his daughter Marina who he thought had died. It's a greek tragedy written by Shakespeare, it's supposed to be complicated. But it was delightful, and much better than Cats.
Afterwards I congratulated my sister on a performance well done, and tagged along as she joined her cast for an after show meal at ACME. We called our mother and sister and chatted a bit — I tried hopelessly to convey the amazing performance I had just witnessed.
Inside we had superb burgers, fries, mashed potatoes and corn bread. Aysan's fellow cast member Addie insisted on sharing her chocolate cake (which was more like chocolate mousse barely holding cake form) and fed everyone at the table. There was much laughing, posing, dancing and general silliness, as the photos do betray.
Today I slept in, wanting to be well rested before the evening's event. Grabbed a quick but delicious bitter iced mocha and margherita mini pizza snack at Crestanello on 5th Ave., across the street from the entrance to the NYPL.
Returned to the hotel, changed and walked to the main event which was simply beautiful.
I was honored to be one of the huppah holders. Imagine that, an agnostic ex-moslem participating in an interfaith jewish wedding ceremony — definitely a uniquely American moment. I met a whole bunch of very nice and friendly folks, many local and a few from afar. A delicious dinner afterwards and cake that can only be described as hand crafted — it was a work of art — covered with dozens of tiny sculpted roses that were apparently so realistic that a bee or two tried to land and pollinate the frosting flowers as the cake was carried to the site. One by one (or two by a few) the guests departed, leaving the newlyweds to walk off towards the sunset, with glistening rings and gleaming eyes.
After returning to my hotel and zonking out for a bit, I decided it was time to hunt for some wifi. I'd heard that Bryant Park, behind the NYPL, has good reception, but figured I'd first find a cafe to organize some photos and write up some thoughts. Walked down 40th st. to 5th ave. and then up 42nd st. In the distance I could see what seemed to be an unusually high density of neon.
As I approached the glow, a vague feeling of misfamiliarity came over me, that is, feeling familiar when you know you shouldn't, because you've never been there. When I reached the glow I turned right and it only got brighter.
Within another block, I felt like I had just dropped out of Port Zero and onto The Street, the Metaverse's main drag, as described in Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash". The darkness of night combined with numerous towering screens, marquee displays, and flashing corporate logos to produce a most artificial twilight. I'd only witnessed something like this once before, which was Tokyo at night. But this was different. Not only is Times Square brighter, but far more dynamic, with animations distracting your peripheral vision from every angle. No matter you look, you have an inescapable feeling that there is something else you really should be looking at, just out of view.
I felt my mind drop into video game mode. I no longer saw any individual moving object or animating screen, only sets of sprites that may or may not be threats or background noise. Ignoring the paths I should take, I saw all those I could take.
One thing you learn from FPS's is that when you're surrounded by action, friendly or not, it is better to be constantly moving than to stop and figure out what to do. Out of the glow I spotted a sign for "europa café". Adventure game instincts told me a snack would help and I was already arc'ing towards it, watching my peripherals the whole way.
I just finished my iced latte and oreo bar and have but one more thing to add. It's after midnight local time (my blog post times are always Pacific) and there is no sign of anything slowing down. Here are a few photos of Times Square (including two from inside the europa café) that don't do it justice. I'm enjoying this quite a bit and have certainly gained some understanding of why New York City is regarded as highly as it is. I must escape before I find myself liking it too much.
Time to rejoin the teeming biomasses outside, lit by a myriad unnatural colors. Where's that open wifi? I need an exit!
It's been 10 days since my last post, an eternity in blogtime. After the sad news and the weekend distractions, I took the next logical step. I thrust myself into my work, determined to complete a few long-running tasks/efforts, which is where most of my mind has been the past week plus.
I've been cranking on my CSS2.1 specification tasks, and have completed editing all but one of the seven chapters that I'm responsible for. As Ian Hickson wrote yesterday, we spent several hours arguing and discussing how to properly define text-decoration the way CSS1 intended it, while accounting for the fact that some of the looser wording in CSS2 caused unintentioned interpretations in a few implementations.
In addition, I have cleared out all my lingering lists of CSS related issues that were cluttering folders in my computers, or on little notes stuck up around the offfice etc., and have sent any that were still valid to the working group, where Ian has graciously kept track of them in a master issues list for CSS2.1.
This past weekend started with a late, short but sweet dinner of small dishes at Thirsty Bear on Friday night. Saturday was brunch at Crepes on Cole, followed in the evening with Jane, Sarah and Helen's housewarming party, where Willo claims I had something to do with spilling a cup of red wine onto the white carpet.
I honestly don't know if it was my foot or your knee, so sure, I'll accept at least half the blame (but whose glass of red wine was it? and who placed it on the carpet? ;-p ). More fun was shouting out "I know! Somebody, get some soda water!" and then pouring it on the spill. I think I learned this trick from one of those "Worst Case Scenario" books. The amazing thing is that it actually worked! The red wine dissolved quickly, and dozens of paper towels later, there was no sign of spillage as far as we could tell. I'm sure Jane would have said something otherwise. Check out the [housewarming photos], including two I managed to snap of Willo while paper toweling the carpet.
Knowing when to move on before things get worse (I was late to leave anyway), I headed over to the Sublounge for the very end of Amber's set. I don't know if it's the best bar in SF, but it is pretty cool. An underground room with hard trance and old airline seats lining the walls. Juicy chill house tunes in the ground floor bar where a bunch of the patrons were body painting each other with fluourescent paints against a wall of black lights.
Sunday was a very pleasant brunch at The Canvas with Amber, Aytek, and Steve. The waffles are both delicious, like everything else I've tried on their menu, and too much for one person to finish, unlike everything else I've tried on their menu. Happy tummies were happier still after a brief walk through Golden Gate park.
Dinner at Ace Wasabi's Rock 'n' Roll Sushi was a healthy last meal of the weekend, which we then topped off with a shared scoop of mint chip at the nearby Ben & Jerry's.
The last Monday night of the current spoken word series at The Canvas, and this time it was my friend Doug who called me, although I still got there over an hour after it had started. The words were less inspiring, so we hid behind our laptops and I worked some more on CSS2.1.
Tuesday I received an email from the djsevenpix list informing me that the ESDJCO store on Haight street is having a 50% off everything sale until this Saturday June 28th because they're closing. They're getting evicted because the people living upstairs complained about the noise. Stupid tennants — what do you expect when you move in upstairs from a DJ store that specializes in electronica, where the register is mere feet from a pair of 1200s, where the friendly retail clerk DJ is throwin' down some bangin' discs?
For those that don't know, this store, which used to be Housewares, was one of the "well known" nexus points of the underground SF electronic music scene where you could pick up flyers for parties in SF, the Bay Area in general, Sacramento, and sometimes even LA. You can catch snippets of the store with the old "Housewares" signage in the introduction to the movie Groove.
So hurry down there between now and Saturday and check it out and pay your respects (and maybe pick up a t-shirt, record or two) before it closes.
For those who can't make it, I took a [slew of photos] to document an institution that will disappear in a manner of days.
Two great court decisions were announced today that reduced government's intrusiveness in the bedroom and in software design. Freedom!
Disclaimer: Of course you do know that I work for Microsoft right? And that my opinions are my own and may not reflect that of my employer, void where prohibited, use at your own risk, etc.
And sitting beside me now is a freshly repaired TiBook.
The short story: I took my recently finicky and unreliable out-of-warranty TiBook/500 to the Apple Store in Palo Alto where Sara at the Genius Bar very patiently listened and took note of my laundry list of problems that my TiBook was having. After two trips to the magical repair depot (Sara checked out my machine when it returned from the first trip, noticed that the main "freeze when tilting the machine" problem had not been fixed and sent it back), my TiBook is back with a new DVD-ROM drive, a new LCD screen, a new logic board, a new keyboard and a new "top-case" (the part of the case around the keyboard). Wow, all for one very reasonable flat repair fee.
So far, everything seems to be working great, and there are no signs of any of the problems that I reported.
Apple, I am very impressed with this recent service experience. Your staff at the Palo Alto store were polite, courteous, considerate and responsive. Most importantly, they were also thorough, noticing that my TiBook had not been fully repaired and making sure that it was. Please pass my compliments onto the Genius Bar staff at the Apple Store in Palo Alto.
I'm leaving tomorrow at 6am on a plane, eventually bound for New York City, where I will have the chance to see my sister Aysan perform in an off-Broadway (her first off-Broadway play!) production of Pericles tomorrow night. The next day I am honored to be both attending and helping a bit with a good friend's wedding.
Then I'll be taking just a couple of days of vacation and spending Sunday through Tuesday hanging out in Manhattan.
Of course I'm not packed yet. Nor am I finished with my self-review for work which was due Monday evening. No, I've procrastinated with catching up on blogging, and uploading several months worth of photos from various recent events, you might have noticed the [photos] hyperlinks above. I've posted photos for few past events I've written about as well, but haven't gotten around to cross-linking them etc. Maybe after I'm done packing.
So if you're in New York and want to hang out sometime this Sunday through Tuesday, drop me an email. With all the rumors of Manhattan swimming in a sea of wifi, I should be able to check my email and get in touch. Or call.
And so I started my weekend with the XBox boot sequence.
It had been months since I had attempted any progress in Halo. After a brief warmup where I learned exactly how overwhelming the Flood could be on difficulty setting "Legendary", I managed to complete "343 Guilty Spark" without much fuss.
Just as the interlevel story sequence began, the phone rang.
It was Amber, and without knowing it, she rescued me from the inevitable all night Halo session, complete with milk and cereal at 4am.
On the contrary, a Vietnamese dinner made for a nice change of pace, and the beginnings of a distraction from Friday's news.
A change of place helped even more. Spent a day sampling various Oaktown haunts: a local cafe with a great scrambled egg bagel sandwich, a recently opened game store, and the best spinach and mushroom stuffed pizza special from Zachary's. Watched Old School with Josh and Keri, a fitting silly movie end to a lazy Saturday.
As if to bring down an otherwise calmly pleasing weekend, my TiBook's intermittent hanging behavior became a lot less intermittent. Any amount of adjusting the screen angle or even tilting the TiBook just wrong was sufficient to lock it. In fact, I'm typing this right now on a PowerBook G3 loaner from a friend, while I prepare my TiBook to ship off to Apple for an out-of-warranty hardware repair.
Sunday brunch with old friends and new acquaintances at the Diving Pelican Cafe — an understated brunch place on the water in Redwood City. Quite nice, except don't forget to wear sunscreen like we did. [Pelican Cafe photos]
Afterwards a bunch of old (junior) high school pals sauntered through the Stanford Mall, where a mocha frappe with whip from the Caffe Company was far better than I ever remember.
Worn out from all that time in the sun, a nap was certainly in order.
Finally, the nicest of dinners at EOS provided a taste sensation not soon to be forgotten.
By this morning (or rather late the night before), the TiBook hanging became bad enough to make it unusable. There was no chance I was going to be able to construct an agenda for the CSS working group teleconference which I was supposed to chair this morning. Fortunately another working group member stepped up and wrote it up.
End of last week I lacked the motivation, and today was preoccupied with the TiBook to G3 brain transplant and subsequent TiBook cleanwipe preparation for repair shipment. Tomorrow morning the TiBook will be on its way, and I should be back to working on my editing tasks for CSS2.1.
And thanks to everyone for all the kind words you have said about IE5/Mac and Tasman. A few folks have raised interesting points and posed some good questions. To clarify just a couple of things: I'm still working at Microsoft, and you have not (yet) seen the last of Tasman.
This week consisted of two very contrasting product announcements. On Monday, the first version of a product which I barely contributed to was announced. Today, the end of life of a product which I had contributed more hours and late nights (and mornings) than I can count was announced.
This past Monday in Chicago, Microsoft Introduced a New Software Platform for Cable Operators. This software has some pretty cool features (for folks who have/use digital cable). Buried near the end of the announcement is a mention of XHTML. The platform supports proper subsets of XHTML Basic and the CSS TV Profile 1.0 (mind you, this is for cable set-top boxes which allow mere kilobytes (not megabytes) for applications) for authoring managed content services.
Just to be clear, other than perhaps a few well-timed conversations and some healthy feedback, I had very little to do with this. This is the result of some incredibly clever and hard work by some of my fellow coworkers. Well done Eric, Steve, Brad and everyone else that worked on the "new" managed content service. You are all to be commended.
Roz Ho, the general manager of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit, has confirmed that no future versions of Internet Explorer will be released for the Mac.
I don't know anything more than what I've pointed you to but this seems real and I trust Jimmy. Those of you wishing to send condolences, may do so by signing up on the MacIE-Talk list, and then sending a note to MacIE-Talk@lists.letterrip.com. Better yet, blog it, link to this post (so I can find you with Technorati) and I'll link to you at the end of this post.
I think I am going to take the rest of the day and weekend off (CSS2.1 fixes can wait) and play some Halo (as recommended by a friend). Who's up for some multiplayer action?
If you're at the DNALounge tonight and are wondering who is the geek with the laptop sitting in the back of the main room, that would be me.
And if you're reading this tonight, and are in the SF bay area, stop by the DNA Lounge (near 11th & Folsom/Harrison, take the 9th st. exit from 101N, make a left on Harrison, right on 11th, find a parking spot in the area) and check out the fresh beats. Say hi to the guy in the XBOX shirt.
Five to eight and I'm flipping a flyer over in my hand. A flyer for "spoken word" at The Canvas that starts in five minutes. I'm still at work in Mountain View, over an hour away.
I call the Smokler, figuring he's only blocks away, maybe he'll want show up an hour late to see if there are any words being spoken. Inspiration to affirmation and minutes later I'm out the door, driving 101N to a techno soundtrack.
We arrive an hour late on the dot, grab the last spot in the tiny lot and sneak in the back. Nothing but a lazy background beat. Kevin grabs the last open table and I order up a tomato cheese melt. As I take my seat, drink in hand, the first speaker is already laying it on. I can't help but notice the eclectic crowd, especially the artsy hotties sitting at the tables in the back. But not tonight. Tonight, it's the speech with attitude, the spoken word, that's got my attention.
If Pearl Jam ... is able to create a successful business model mobilizing its fans via the Internet and engaging in such "crazy" stunts as releasing live double albums of every show it performs, this could be the beginning of a stampede away from the lumbering dinosaurs that the major labels have become.
But although the French are filling out, they still have a long way to go to catch up with junk food fans in the United States...
The 38-year-old decided to hand over the money to the unsung heroes of the sci-fi blockbusters - the costume and special effects teams.
And plenty more than I can now remember. Or happiness felt and still remembert.
© 1996-2003, Tantek Çelik, All Rights Reserved