Archives : September 1999

1999 September 4

Egg rolls

I shouldered my way into Whole Foods Market tonight. Egg roll lust lay heavy upon me, and they tried to send me away with that snivelling, ``I'm sorry sir, but we closed a minute and a half ago'' routine. But I got my foot in the door, and was not to be turned aside from ridiculously overpriced fried vegetable pastries so easily.

(Trader Joe's has way better egg rolls than Whole Foods and for about half the price, for reference. But they close at 9.)

I'm not sure exactly why I was so determined to go home with egg rolls, except that I was wandering University Ave while hungry for something quick and tasty, not sugary but not too greasy, and Palo Alto has dick all in way of decent sidewalk food. Whole Foods was the only thing left open at 10 pm Friday night.

. . .

My life seems a little off-kilter this week. If it doesn't have to do with making preparations for boot camp next month or with reliving my kick-ass NASFiC weekend just passed, I can't seem to concentrate on it; the rest of the routine of daily life seems pallid and boring by comparison.

I slept 12 hours Wednesday night and 10 hours last night, recuperating. It is now just past midnight Friday night/Saturday morning, and I'm again exhausted. Time to crash.

1999 September 8

The Economist, on career plans

Presented without comment, The Economist's view of the new economy, and my prospective career directions:

alt="[The Economist's Survey of Pay]" >

1999 September 12


Have spent much of the past week trying to sort out planning for boot camp next month, both how to get there and where to stay. Travel, comparatively, was easy to arrange -- there seem to be no deals for flights from SFO to Logan, but with a bit of persistence I discovered that Southwest flies to Providence, which is almost as good.

Lodging was much more of a pain in the ass. Three weeks is too long to impose on friends, too short for apartment rentals , and small inns and guest houses seemed invariably to already be booked up on weekends. But after we each spent a few days on the phone, Jason (a fellow bootcamper) came up with the Inn at Ridge, an odd-sounding place attached to an athletic club in Braintree that'll rent us a suite for two for $65/night. That's still not cheap, but I can say with confidence that about the only way to do better in the Boston area is to resort to a dorm room at the youth hostel.

. . .

Saw Molly again on Friday, first time since August 2. She bought me the world's best chicken pot pie to celebrate being a quitter. We didn't sing Kenny Rogers, but we should have.

. . .

Fear the crooner: Found this in an Economist article on refugees from the North Korean famine: ``[The 15-year-old girl] was lucky not to be picked up and sold to a Chinese brothel or karaoke bar.'' Spare the children -- fight the spread of karaoke.

1999 September 14

Auction addiction

It seems like I'm going to want to have a laptop with me at boot camp, for doing homework and whatnot, so I've started doing some shopping for one. Except, it's just not worth $1000+ (minimum) to me to have a new one, so I started poking around looking for used, refurbished, or second-hand machines. Which led me to ebay and

Spent all last evening and too much of today reading machine stats and looking at auction results, trying to get a sense of how much laptop a few hundred dollars should be able to buy. It looks like, with luck, I may be able to get something workable (meaning at least 32 MB RAM, with CD and modem) for $600. I've started placing bids on things.

I can see how people can get addicted to this.

. . .

Update (8:30 pm): I find myself somewhat unexpectedly the new owner of a laptop. I'm kind of bemused. I mean, I knew that making bids carried the risk that one might sometime actually win, but still. Somehow I guess I didn't really expect to be the one who still had a chair when the music stopped.

It also occurs to me that this must be about the geekiest possible way to have an exciting day. Not only did I do it at my desk, staring at my computer, by repeatedly reloading my web browser, but the most interesting property of the thing I bought is 80 MB of RAM.

The description of the model I bought doesn't include a modem, but I only paid $540 for it, so with continuing good fortune I may be able to bring the whole package in for (not much more than) $600.

1999 September 22

Official decision

Well, I have talked with Peter about my plans. (Actually, I did that last week, but haven't had a chance to write a journal entry until now.) It was uncomfortable saying it all, but he seems willing to be very accommodating for me. It looks like I'll be able to get a leave of absence for October instead of having to resign up front.

Peter being understanding means I have a safety net; if I go to bootcamp and decide it's a horrible mistake, I can come back. At the moment I'm feeling quite confident that's not going to happen -- even if I decide web development isn't for me, it doesn't follow that I'll want to go back to research -- but it is best not to burn bridges.

So, awkward and exciting times. My decision is now public and official. Strangely, I am neither as exhilarated nor as scared by this as I might have expected. I guess I went through the emotional rollercoaster last month; now it's just a matter of following through.

. . .

The reason I haven't got this journal entry up 'til now is that I
spent the weekend in Vancouver, visiting my grandmother. Was a gorgeous weekend to go, full Indian summer. Everybody seems well; learned some interesting family history from Uncle Rob; met Jenn for a few hours downtown Monday afternoon. Was a good visit.

1999 September 28


I got two more tasty little tomatoes off my plant this morning. I was kind of late getting it started last spring -- I think it was June, actually -- and while it's done a good job sprawling all over my balcony, I was getting worried it wouldn't produce any actual tomatoes before I was off to boot camp.

Let's face it -- I've kept it alive, but this is not the world's most pampered piece of greenery.

I got two ripe cherries from it Saturday morning, and two more today. There are a bunch more green ones there, that I suspect Antonio is going to get to eat while I'm away. Nevertheless, I did get some. It's a symbolic victory.

. . .

I now have Linux pretty much completely installed and configured on linon, my new laptop. It now runs ssh, ppp, a webserver, and the modem works. I tested it to destruction last night, and can verify that the battery is good for just under two hours -- it can keep going for about ten minutes more after the battery gauge is reading 0. Heh.

What happens after that, though, is ugly. Total ungraceful system death -- apparently apmd does not coordinate well with Toshiba's BIOS "resume mode". The first time I tried to power back up after plugging into wall current it gave me a "BIOS Damaged, Call Serviceman" splash screen. It was, gratefully, just kidding, but it scared me enough that next time you can bet I'm going to be a good boy and turn it off properly when it tells me the battery is dry.

Incidentally, the name linon is from Kay's Sailing to Sarantium: Linon is Crispin's enchanted travelling companion. I like the name and I like the resonance; I hope I won't have to sacrifice her to the zubir.