"So there are Oliphaunts. But no one at home will ever believe me."
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Category — tempus fugit

The Snipe Hunt

This morning, over espresso (how terrible war is), somebody wanted to play with my iPad (again, this war, right now: terrible) and started an impromptu game of Scrabble. We started a “pass the iPad” multiplayer game, and to my surprise the demo turned into a serious contest. Time passed, and finally somebody suggested that it would be great if we had a multiplayer computer version to play on our laptops, taking turns during little breaks throughout the day.

Surely, I offered, some enterprising programmer has created a free version of Scrabble that can be hosted on one computer and played locally with other computers on the same network. Probably, I hypothesized, this programmer had even made it possible to play through your web browser. The other two agreed that this was virtually certain to have happened.

“Well,” said one, “you should probably go back to your CHU to download whatever it is since the Internet is so slow so we can have this set up by tonight.”

“Right,” I agreed.

Six hours gone, and many vast and deep Internet searches later, I had to give up. I realized that the challenge to find this thing on the Internet had been like a perfectly aimed special munition into the very heart of my personal Death Star. A whole perfectly splendid idle Sunday used up in futile sifting through the bed of the web’s Mariana Trench.

“Well played, friend,” I admitted to my new enemy, many hours later.

Perhaps all was not lost. I have been casting about for something to work on to keep my coding skills sharp. A locally shareable game like Scrabble, with an HTML5 client, would have a pretty deep stack of the technologies I’m interested in. So I may pursue it.

Around dinner time I got a late invitation to go barbecue with our Lebanese friends. The food tonight was really, really good. I think that perhaps my culinary interest in Lebanese food has prompted our host to up his game, or it may be that improving economic conditions have made it possible for him to acquire better ingredients and equipment (for instance, tonight he had actual hard wood charcoal as opposed to briquettes). Whatever the cause, it’s great to be able to enjoy simple food, well prepared.

We were going to make peanut brittle afterwards, but everybody was stuffed, and I owed this to the blog.

Tomorrow I start teaching math class again. We learned in the last that having the class five or six times a week was likely too much, so we’re cutting back to every other day and placing more emphasis on homework.

April 25, 2010   Comments Off

The menu

Having my parents over, the in-laws over (maybe), the sister and her unknown guest over, and a long term family friend. Probably my last chance to Cook Big before I leave. Here we go…

All recipes for Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking.

  • Crostini Bianchi p. 52
  • Roasted Peppers and Anchovies p. 53
  • Roasted Eggplant with Peppers and Cucumber p. 55
  • Marinated Carrot Sticks p. 56
  • Focaccia p. 618
  • Chick Pea Soup p. 113
  • Aio e oio p. 170
  • Grilled fish (Sicilian Salmoriglio) p. 289
  • Bistecca fiorentina p. 385
  • Crema con mirtilli p. 596

Wine will be a sparkling brut rosé (sorry) to start, followed by a Sicilian white and a red-to-be-determined (but leaning towards a Nero d’Avola, a recent interest of mine).

So… what am I missing?

July 18, 2009   Comments Off

Never the same memory twice

Moving. The house itself is mostly packed. Large items remain—those will remain until we get a moving truck over there for the final push—and lots of small things, minutiae, detritus, forgettable, losable, unmemorious things. Countless books, here and there, and more toys than you can imagine.

Cleaning in a corner I unearthed a small, cheap rubber toy designed to suggest the Space Shuttle without actually bothering to reproduce any of its distinguishing characteristics. Name? Why, it could be any of’em. Flag? Well, we want it to sell in any country, that just wouldn’t do. Not the Space Shuttle, but an eidolon.

We are struggling to use the opportunity of moving the household to reduce and simplify. We have too much for how often we must move. So I knew it had to go as soon as I saw it; was certain as I put the toy in my hand. In the handling of the thing I nearly—how to put this?—inhaled memory from it, as though contact had rendered me a sensitized conductor to the charge of joy and wonder and glee that excited little fists had invested in it. That cheap little toy was, briefly, the biggest toy in the world; they all are, for a little bit. I remember when it flew about the house on its masters’ missions. I don’t remember when it came, from where, or when it was retired, or if its loss was much lamented.

I wanted to save it, to recapture the times slipped out and see them lived again. Impossible. You cannot taste the young wine once it has aged. Wine is a store not just of grapes but of time, and the wine maker’s life from the time he puts his labor into it until the time it is shared. You drink it and remember when it was made, and note how much it has changed since a tasting anchored to some event or season, while what you are doing at the drinking shapes its flavor in your mouth and your recollection of previous glasses (over dinner? By yourself, with a book? With friends and hot grill?) These little knickknacks and treasured bric-a-brac store captured moments that can be uncorked and enjoyed, yet they change with perspective and time, perhaps maturing when they are put away, perhaps going stale when they are experienced, so that you can savor the memories, but never the same memory twice.

It’s gone now, but safe, here.

July 8, 2009   Comments Off