Thursday, April 30, 2009

John Ross (1947-2009)

I'm sad to report that my friend and technology colleague John Ross died earlier this month. Some of you may have known John as the author of books for O'Reilly and other publishers on computer networking. I suspect more of you knew him as one of the indefagitable organizers and the perennial emcee of the Band Scramble at the annual Northwest Folklife Festival.

I don't believe there's been an official obituary for John published yet, but you can follow the discussion of the sad news at the Mudcat Cafe website. (Mudcat's a group of people involved in the preservation and study of recorded music.)

I had the privilege of doing a bit of work with John on wireless networking issues for the Mac when he was expanding a book, originally for PC users, to a cross-platform audience. He also gave me much earnest advice on how to make a living as writer.

John's enthusiasm for folk music and knowledge and homemade cider will be remembered. A Celtic Band Scramble is planned in his memory at this year's Folklife (3:30-4 p.m. Sunday, Northwest Court Stage); I hope there will also be a somewhat less raucous gathering at another point.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Goats, chickens, and cats

This blog post is brought to you at 5 a.m. courtesy of Sheba, the deaf white cat, who went out with the Stripe Sisters a few minutes ago and now refuses to come in. So I'm waiting for her to get bored with the great outdoors so I can go back to sleep.

It's still quite dark out, but the paper's been delivered and the trees are filled with hundreds of twittering birds, reminding me of dinner Thursday evening at Jim and Sharon's. Their enclosed back porch was filled with young chickens that make the most wonderful sounds, a cross between clucking and chittering. Very soothing. There are also two small goats, brought in at night, and some of the chickens roost on top of the goats, which don't seem to mind at all.

I took this photo from their living room, which has a glass door looking into the porch area. The goats were posing.

Jim is building an enormous chicken coop — about twice the size of my garden shed, and far more elaborate — to house the chickens when they are full grown. They got a door for the coop from the ReStore, which reccles building material from houses; the chickens have a blue Tudor style door with leaded glass side panels.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just what I need

This is the old orange tom cat that would like to live in the cat area under my office. In this photo, he's sleeping on some decking in the backyard; I got the shot with from about 20 feet away, in the house, as he's likely to run off if I open the door.

I should have gotten a shot of the old Lynxpoint Himalayan tom cat that also would like to live in the cat area under my office. In recent months the two of them have worn a path from the side yard to the sheltered area outside the basement where I have a fleece cat bed in a box.

It's gotten so that Kaylee and Zoe and Sheba cast annoyed glances to the left as soon as they walk out onto the back porch; they do not seem to like sharing the yard.

Both tomcats seem well-fed and reasonably healthy. The Himalayan has been around the neighborhood for several years, and has fathered some Lynxpoint kittens, now adult. The orange tom seems to be new to the street. I'm curious to see if I'll be able to tame one or both. I don't dare put out any food for them for fear of attracting raccoons. But I think I'll start putting out a dish of water in the morning when the weather gets warmer.

Any ideas for names?

Monday, April 13, 2009

What weekend?

I swear, I can't remember anything I did Saturday!

Oh, wait: I pruned my cookbook collection and am getting rid of some books on cooking with chocolate, and some old books on coffee and tea. (Everyone's a coffee expert these days, and the only tea I'm passionate about is Assam, aka Irish and English Breakfast.)

The Easter Bunny arrived mid-afternoon, and this year, I caught him hanging the bag of Peeps on the front door! This is, I believe, the 15th year of Easter Bunny visits. He came in and we had tea and caught up.

In the evening I went to visit a friend in the hospital, and then Tom and I had Greek food at Santorini's in Kirkland. The moussaka was just OK but the lamb souvlaki ($3.50 for a long skewer of big, lean chunks of lamb) was delicious. Found out about Santorini's from the excellent website Chef Seattle, which has a list of Cheap Eats for foodies. The list even has a French restaurant! And I wasn't surprised to find Fu Man Dumpling House at in second place on the (ranked) list. To my surprise, the top-ranked eaterie was one I'd never heard of: La Casa Del Mojito, on Lake City Way.

Sunday I visited Nina in Bellingham; we had lunch, went shopping, and came home and looked at Mexican recipes and drank Chai. Listened to Jonathan Edwards CDs on the way up, and Flanders and Swann CDs on the way back. Discover that the new Fit can really move! Its disappointing in-city gas usage is a real contrast to highway performance, which was better than 40 mpg.

Last night watched the Star Trek classic "The City on the Edge of Forever," which, according to the most recent Locus magazine, writer Harlan Ellison is still suing the producers about. At some point I want to read the original Ellison story on which the final script, edited by DC Fontana, is based.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Signs and sounds of spring

Sunday was the first truly warm day of spring; I had yoga class with Susan in Fremont at noon, then caught the end of the Ballard Sunday Market (Turkish bread, Gouda cheese, steampunk fashion). Came home and opened up the French doors and aired out the house. Movie plans in the evening ended up being just hanging out at Hank's with Tom, Bruce, and Margaret, eating Hank's Firehouse Lasagna and watching "The Emperor's New Groove" (2000), a delightful, little-known Disney animation.

I still haven't managed to see "Coraline."

The neighbors across the street got a dog, a very sweet middle-aged chocolate Lab. Their kids are thrilled; their cats look incredulous.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Feline frolics

Got home from yoga tonight and was nearly bowled off the front porch by a cat -- a big orange tom that had been sleeping in the front-porch cat tree. He saw me and exploded out of the cat tree and tore down the steps.

Zoe and Sheba were sitting in the window, watching all this, and they were clearly ready to pursue him into the night — if I'd let them out. Which I didn't.

Now we're all having some French Toast for dinner and cooling down.

Trailer Park Yoga classes April - June

Susan Powter is back in town and her women's yoga classes are starting up again: Monday, Wednesday, Friday evenings and Sunday noon in Fremont. (Contact me for specifics.) Payment is by the individual class (i.e., drop-in). The first class is a free "tryout." Bring a yoga mat, water, and -- if you have them -- a set of light wrist or ankle weights. You can start the program at any point.

I think Susan's classes are great because they are do-able, entertaining, and extremely effective for transforming fat into muscle. Most people lose weight, but everyone who does her classes loses inches. The classes are based on a Vinyasa yoga workout, but the emphasis is on breathing and on developing strength, endurance, and flexibility.

This is by no means a class for skinny Barbie dolls. A good number of the women in the class are obese to the point that it affects their mobility. There are also a number of women (like me) who work around physical injuries. Susan offers modifications that can work for everyone.

But, to be honest with you, this program isn't meant for everybody.

• The program won't yield exciting results if you only exercise twice a week. Not quite sure what the "magic formula" is, but if your only exercise is this class, twice a week, you'll get some initial effect, but then hit a plateau. To get a great fitness effect, you have do three 90-minute classes a week, or do two of these plus one other aerobic/strength workout during the week. (I'll probably be doing two or three of Susan's classes and a belly dance class; we have other folks who play soccer, or run.)

• You have to be able to modify, doing the versions of the poses that are comfortable for you and working up to the more difficult ones. If you insist on doing everything perfectly right away, you'll turn bright red like a lobster and then hate the class. I've learned that there are people who simply can't modify for fear of being criticized (apparently by some nasty gym teacher in their distant past); this program isn't for them.