January 26-29, 2015

A four-day span in which I flew to Atlanta, attended a career fair, had a fabulous dinner at Empire State South, and flew home again. And that was [literally] just what I did on Tuesday.

Monday night was the screening of Wise Blood at the Carolina, hosted by Lucinda Williams, whom I never saw, because I left as soon as the movie was over, because (a) I had to get up at 4:50 the next morning to go to the airport, and/or (b) oh my GOD the guy who hosts that film series is seriously the MOST obnoxious human being on earth.

Still, I really enjoyed seeing Wise Blood for the 4th or 5th time. It’s pretty much Brad Dourif’s finest hour, and I say this as someone who just watched Alien Resurrection a few days ago.

(I should note here that there is a new tumblr editor which refuses to let me insert any links, which is why there are no links in this post.)

Meanwhile, over in Greensboro, a city not significantly larger than Durham, they have arthouse cinemas which get new indie movies on a weekly basis, movies that will literally never play anywhere in the Triangle. Which I would actually greatly prefer to the endless retro retread series we have going on here.

Wednesday night I went to my first Refresh the Triangle in ages, a presentation by Anna Lewis of Viget, all about their internship program. It was actually really interesting to see what they do, and to realize that there’s a lot more variation, internship-wise, even in our industry, than I would have imagined.

Thursday I got nearly caught up after the past almost-two-weeks of travel and distraction. Which explains why this post is (a) cursory but also (b) existent. 

Other notes for posterity:

  • My favorite Durham restaurant, Gocciolina, was named Restaurant of the Year literally 6 months after it opened for the first time.
  • It was announced officially that Andrea Reusing is going to open a restaurant in Durham, in the ground floor of the new hotel that is about to open in my favorite building in town (no, not the 21c in the Hill Building – “The Durham” in the ultra-space-age Mutual Bank building next to the post office)
  • If all goes according to plan, Dashi Ramen will be open by early next week.
  • We may yet get Google Fiber.
  • The new Sleater-Kinney is STILL album of the year.

January 26-29, 2015

January 23-25, 2014

Austin was a lot of fun. For my final lunch we went to Kin and Comfort, which is a sort of asian-fusion restaurant hidden in the food court section of the local asian supermarket. Excellent fried chicken, and a pretty solid (albeit not Momofuku-grade) pork belly bun.

Now I’m back in Durham. This weekend was taken up largely with computing work for WXDU, trying to finish a fairly long & involved project to migrate a bunch of services from an aging Mac to a new Linux box. It’s amazing how much easier it is to administer a box that has a full-featured package manager as an integral part of the OS rather than an afterthought.

We had dinner Saturday night with out-of-town extended family at Guglhupf. There were no massive arguments. Small-town men of a certain age have such fragile egos. Navigating the menu at a German-influenced restaurant can be a challenge & I suppose our waiter could have been more helpful/reassuring. I guess it must be nice to work in a town where you don’t encounter that many diners who aren’t exactly sure how it all works.

Today I learned that (on Ubuntu, anyway) you can use a utility called arping to force things on your local subnet to refresh their arp caches, which is pretty handy when you’ve swapped machines & it has been ~90 minutes and you still can’t ping a migrated IP address from outside your subnet. I love the fact that I can learn new things pretty much all the time. Thanks, Internet!

Tonight we watched S2E2 of Broad City. I dunno. This season isn’t blowing me away like some episodes of the first season did. It’s a tricky tone to maintain, for sure, and maybe it’s just not maintainable for more than a dozen episodes. I’d be psyched to see Abbi & Ilana do something new, I think.

January 23-25, 2014

January 20-22, 2015

I wrote this the other day but the hotel wi-fi crapped out just as I was about to click Post:

Traveling for work this week. This is my first trip to Austin since I attended my one & only SXSW in 1995. I didn’t see much of the city then, and I’m not actually seeing all that much of the city now, apart from the stretch of Burnet where the IBM campus is, and the handful of routes to and from the various restaurants I’ve visited.

These have included:

  • Noble Sandwich Co
  • Taco Deli
  • Drink.Well
  • Foreign & Domestic
  • Stiles Switch
  • Fork & Vine
  • Tatsu-ya Ramen
  • The Blackbird & Henry

Of those, the purest pleasure definitely came from the brisket at Stiles Switch. Everything else has been good-to-great, but that brisket is the stuff of dreams.

Foreign & Domestic comes in second on the food front. Drink.Well takes the cocktail prize, although I had a mezcal thing at Blackbird & Henry tonight that was pretty unimpeachable.

I have a new set of coworkers here in Austin, and I’m really psyched to have spent a week here & to have confirmed that they’re awesome. 

I’m a natural introvert, and thus working on geographically distributed teams has never been that big a deal for me – in my career I have had at least a dozen different managers, and only 3 of them have lived in the same state as me. 

But I’m still hyperaware that the quality of in-person interaction is so much higher than phone or email or video or whatever else. The bandwidth is SO MUCH higher, and the range of types of information exchanged is so much broader. 

There’s a good reason why my teammates are here – we have two labs, Austin and RTP, each one serving stakeholders in the immediate vicinity – but this week together has been so productive on so many [often intangible] levels that I would argue strongly for the value of regular face-to-face contact for any/all distributed teams.

I dunno, though, maybe if they were in Roswell, NM, I’d have a different opinion. Roswell is kind of a hell-hole, and it smells of a mixture of sulphur and cattle.

On the other hand, Roswell is kind of fascinating, what with the UFO history/fetish & all. Plus White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns aren’t that far away. So maybe, like, Charlotte NC is a better negative example.

January 20-22, 2015

January 14-19, 2015

Ugghhghghgghghgh where did this 6-day gap come from?

I had been doing really well, too. Or at least moderately well. 

There has just been a lot of business, I guess. Or busyness. The following things happened:

  • Academy Award nominations were announced. Selma was snubbed (well, except for a Best Picture nom, which isn’t chopped liver, but I’d put it as a long-shot to win, given how Academy voters think). I honestly don’t have a lot to add to all the other opinions whirling around Teh Internets on this front, other than to say that white men who have some degree of power sure will do whatever it takes, unapologetically, to hang onto it.
  • Duke announced that it would allow the Muslim Student Association to deliver the 1pm Friday call to prayer from the top of the Duke Chapel. Then backpedaled fiercely in the face of criticism from Billy Graham’s son, and potentially also threats from wealthy donors and/or unhinged Christian fundamentalist terrorists. 

    I don’t always like living in close proximity to all of those Duke students, but I’m generally pretty grateful that Duke is in Durham. They have a killer performing arts series. They have a radio station that accepts community members as volunteers. They have more art museum than the other universities in the Triangle. They employ a LOT of my friends and they are probably the single largest enabler of the much-vaunted dining scene in Durham.

    So even though a significant percentage of the undergrad population kind of irritates me, I feel mostly good will towards the University. So it’s tough to see them fold so quickly, and over something that shouldn’t have been all that big a deal.

    We had a great discussion on the internal WXDU mailing list about whether & how we should respond. Our Friday 1pm DJ wound up playing the adhan on his show, and got a really nice note on the request line in return. Nobody blew us up [yet].

  • Linus Torvalds was an insensitive asshole, again, for the 50,000th time. I spent some time thinking about whether/how it would even be possible to distance the GNU/Linux community from him. It would appear to require a kernel fork, and the forking entity would need to attract most of the current major non-Linus contributors, *and* would need some kind of commitment from at least 2 of the major distros. And even then it would be a long-shot. 

    So we’re stuck with him? Or rather, kernel devs are stuck with him. Luckily there is SO MUCH MORE to GNU/Linux than the kernel. Unfortunately not everyone knows that. And his shitty attitude is probably as appealing to some developers as it is repulsive to the rest of us.

  • I continued to listen to the new Sleater-Kinney on repeat. It is SO GOOD.
  • Friday was M’s birthday; we took her dad out to dinner at Metro 8, which serves quite the good steak (and broccolini) in a strange narrow space on 9th Street with oddly outmoded decor. They shake their Manhattans, though. Unforgivable.
  • Saturday night we went to a friend’s house; it was her birthday & to celebrate, she & her husband cooked dinner for like 20 people. Which is kind of what they do. Wound up, along with a couple of M’s coworkers, talking science fiction with a Duke econ professor from Toronto. 

    Having just finished [the excellent] Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan, I was ready for recommendations. Somehow I have never read any Vernor Vinge (really?), so away I go on The Peace War. Although it’s going to have to be pretty amazing to keep me from being tempted to just plow forward with whatever the sequel to Altered Carbon is.

  • Now I’m in Austin, on a weeklong work trip. Today, Monday the 19th, was nearly all travel. It was 72 degrees when I got off the plane, which was nice. Everything is so brown here, though. And the IBM offices are about as far from the interesting things in Austin as the ones in RTP are from anywhere interesting back home.

    I should be writing Python questions for our technical interview. Maybe tomorrow.

January 14-19, 2015