Friday, January 30, 2009

The Mysterious Traveler sets out yet again

Sunday I'm off to Florida for my annual visit to my mom, leaving behind me a pile of washed-but-un-ironed laundry, and a sheaf of notes for the housesitter.

Work finally slowed down this week, but many clients have come out of the woodwork to book projects for the week I get back. That is great news in terms of money, but I wonder if I've committed to too much. Fortunately, much of the work is quite interesting.

I'm continuing to try to get a grip on the Weblogger Meetup that I've been organizing for the past year after inheriting the leadership of the group from a friend who had a much greater talent for it. Currently I'm surveying the group members to figure out what would make the event more appealing to them. They are just about evenly divided on every aspect of the survey except one: None of them wants to be involved in organization or leadership of the group -- except for one dear woman who is already one of the most overcommitted people on the planet. Isn't that always the way it goes?

My friend Tom, who is also one of those natural-born organizers, has been working with me to host a monthly games party at the house. We've had a couple of trial runs, fairly successful, in which I've discovered that my taste in free-form word games is balanced by other folks' taste in more structured adventure games. Fortunately, the house can easily accommodate four groups at a time. We've played Settlers of Cataan (sp?), The Great Dalmuti, Wise and Otherwise, Scrabble, Chronology, Fluxx, Apples to Apples, and Chronology -- plus a game in which we were constructing a haunted house as we went along. I think The Great Dalmuti is my favorite.

If you'd like to be added to the invite list for the next party (most likely on a Sunday afternoon/evening in March) please send email and let me know.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Home from Macworld

I expect to be writing more about Macworld and San Francisco in the next few days, as I unpack, but at the moment my attention is fully occupied by the things I found upon arriving home.

I opened the front door and there, on the rug in the foyer, was a Beanie Baby walrus. The cats, it turned out, had taken half a dozen Beanie Babies out of a basket on an upstairs dresser and brought them downstairs. One of the tabbies had been sitting in the front window when I arrived home, and the other appeared soon after. I had to hunt for Sheba, the deaf white cat, and found her curled up in a cabinet in the bathroom; she'd unspooled a roll of paper towels, created a nest of sorts, and was sleeping in it.

The cats seem perfectly happy, even though this was the longest I've ever left them with catsitters. A friend who has a pet-sitting business had come by every evening for a couple of hours, and neighbors with whom I exchange cat-sitting services had popped in each morning to give the cats some wet food and make sure nothing had been demolished. The system seems to have worked -- perhaps because it's winter, so they aren't as interested in getting outside when the weather is cold and wet.

There was an immense heap of mail waiting for me. I'd cancelled the P-I for the duration of the trip (no, I was not the straw the broke the camel's back), but Wall Street Journals had piled up. And there were some wonderful letters from friends responding to Christmas cards and gifts. There were also some checks from clients -- nearly as wonderful!

It's so good to be home!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Macworld, Day 1

I did not attend the final, non-Steve, keynote this morning, but followed it on Twitter while eating breakfast at Sears Restaurant and then waiting in line to get into the Exhibition Hall. (Yes! IDG, the firm that runs Macworld, finally got excellent ATT reception and WiFi throughout the Moscone conference facility.)

One Tweet was from Matt, a fellow iCards alumus, asking me if I had the new-product cards ready to go live. That triggered some unpleasant flashbacks of keynote Tuesdays, spent dashing from the Exhibition Hall in SF to the office in Cupertino, and back.

I spent an hour in the South Hall -- which is the main exhibition area with the Apple booth -- before heading off for a lunch date at Mel's Drive-In (which is not a drive-in). The Apple booth itself was much sparser than in previous years. It was U-shaped, with the big-screen presentation theater in the middle (showing off new elements in iWork and iLife) and a one-on-one demo bar. At one side of the U was a modest table with the new 17" Mac Book Pro, and at the other side were tables with iPhones and iPods.

Lunch with with Dan, a Seattle friend who now lives in Tennessee and is part of the team that produces Your Mac Life and is currently onsite at Macworld. We chatted about a whole range of things, including our excitement over Rae's engagement to Todd. (An amusing topic because Dan met Rae through The Mysterious Traveler Sets Out, which links to Rae's blog.)

I arrived back at Moscone to discover that Tom, a Berkeley/Seattle friend, had jumped in and helped out at a booth to the extent that he'd been given $50 worth of merchandise as a thank you. He'd also discovered that a friend of his, at Google, was demoing a Google Earth add-on that lets you steer the Google milk truck while surfing on a hacked Wii balance board. I went over and surfed on it, and can hardly wait to get one. There is no penalty for speeding!

I made it to the Kensington booth to shop for what is to be my one technology purchase for the trip: a wireless (USB) mouse. Several of the mice were quite flat, but one was more egonomically curved, and I'm going to use the show discount to order it on line (or pick it up at the Dr. Bott store at Moscone tomorrow).

As usual, a day tromping around Moscone was exhausting. I'm back at the hotel, getting ready to go over to meet my cousin Michael and his fiance at a new restaurant, Orson.