New Web page: speeds.htmlI'm quote proud of this one, which address a number of "frequently asked questions" about interchangeability between 7-speed, 8-speed an n-speed bike parts.
eBook: Grantville Gazette 4Another in the The Grantville Gazette series inspired by Eric Flint's 1632
Film: (DVD) Meet the Fockers Jay Roach, 2004This is a very basic lowbrow comedy, but the all-star cast manages to make something pretty good out of the run-of-the-mill material. Better than I expected.
To New YorkJust a day trip to examine a bike at a law office on Wall Street.
Flew jetBlue, on one of their new Embraer D190s. Very nice plane...only thing they now need is to offer a special section with cloth upholstery for the benefit of vegan travelers who might object to the leather seats! The plane I flew on was only on its second trip on the way down. I'm pretty sure it was the same one I flew back in in the afternoon.
I had a bit of time on my hands after checking out the bike, so I wandered around lower Manhattan a bit. Meandered over to the South Street Seaport. They had a couple of very cool ships tied up there, but unfortunately just about everything was closed.
I was especially impressed by the 1911 German four-masted barque Peking
Book Lavoisier in the Year One Madison Smartt Bell, 2005I had occasion to fly down to New York to inspect a bike for a legal case, and picked this up at the library for the flight. It's been a while since I read a book on paper, but it's a good format for airplanes, 'cause the light's ok and they have their silly rules about when you can and can't use a PDA.
Lavoisier was arguably the father of the science of chemistry. A very scientific mindset, he studied the traditional alchemically-based chemical lore that was then in existence, mainly based on Aristotle's four elements, but he was appalled by the fragmentary and contradictory nature of the field. He concluded that all of the existing theories handed down from the ancients, and particularly the phlogiston theory of combustion needed to be completely discarded. It was necessary to start over from basic principles and observational data. Lavoisier was not the first to discover oxygen, but he was the first to explain its function in combustion and life support (and also the first to name it.)
His Traité élementaire de chemie published in 1789 established the basis for the modern science of chemistry, causing a scientific revolution. Tragically, the other Revolution of 1789, or rather the Reign of Terror of 1793 caused him to be guillotined at the age of 51.
This is a short, highly readable book, definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in the history of science.
Film: (West Newton Cinema) Pride & Prejudice Joe Wright, 2005This is one of my favorite books, and now one of my favorite films. One might quibble about minor anachronisms, but all in all this is a fabulously good interpretation. Obviously a film can't contain all of Austen's wonderful turns of phrase, and can't provide the detailed texture of all of the minor sub-plots, but this film is quite true to the spirt of the novel, and very, very entertaining. Highly recommended!
Everything about this film was wonderful. Particularly notable is the Steadicam cinematography, many very long, very elaborate takes with lots of camera movement, but not in a gimmicky way.
Just last night I was watching an episode of Commander in Chief, and it was a bit of a surprise to see Donald Sutherland playing such a drastically different character than the reptilian Speaker of the House role he plays there. A great actor, Sutherland has the range to do both that and the beneficent Mr. Bennett justice. All of the rest of the cast is also first rate and very convincing.
Film: (DVD) End of the Beginning Harry Turtledove, 2005In this sequel to Days of Infamy, running through 1943, the Japanese consolidate their occupation of Hawaii while the U.S. prepares a massive counterattack. The Japanese occupation is possibly even harsher than their occupation of the Philippines and southeast Asia in our time line, due to their difficulty in supplying food to Hawaii as U.S. submarines wreak havoc with their supply lines.
Acting under their evil "bushido" code, the Japanese militarists are particularly cruel to military captives, reminiscent of the Bataan Death March.
A mostly quite gloomy book but with a happy ending, unlike its predecessor.
Film: (DVD) Boys on the Side Herbert Ross, 1995Starts out as a sort of 3-way Thelma and Louise, then turns into an AIDS tearjerker. I mainly picked this up from the library because I'm a big fan of Whoopi Goldberg. This was an OK film, but nothing special.
All day rehearsal for the Christmas Revels
eBook: Sharpe's Sword Bernard Cornwell 2001Sharpe at the Battle of Salamanca, and chasing down an evil French counterspy, bedding a beautiful contessa...
Film: (DVD) Monty Python's The Meaning of Life Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, 1983This was a bit disappointing. Had some quite clever bits, as one would expect from Monty Python, but they tended to go on and on way too long. This would have made a good 1 hour TV show if it had been trimmed down a bit.
Dream: Pedal-powered 18 wheelerThis morning I dreamt that I had taken a part time job doing local deliveries in an 18-wheel tractor-trailer rig that had been fitted with pedal drive to save fuel. I was driving around various areas of Boston, don't recall it being particularly hard to pedal.
After doing this for several days I made a wrong turn that led me onto one of the entrance ramps to the Mass Turnpike, so I decided to try using the engine to go a short distance (Allston to Newton?) under power on the 'Pike. However, when I got to the toll booth, the collector asked "cash, check or charge" and wanted ove a hundred bucks for the short trip...said it had something to do with insurance. I couldn't afford this, asked if I could just get off the Turnpike some way without getting stuck for the high tariff. He had me pull over to a garage-type opening to wait while he checked to see if he could do anything for me. I was behind another truck that was inside the garage. Some people were leaning on the front of my truck and it started to roll, so I set the hand brake. Then the truck in front of me started to roll back toward me and bumped into me at a low speed...I saw the upper part of it coming toward my windshield, but it wound up going up and over the top of my truck. It turned out not to be a truck that was running over my truck, but a railroad locomotive. It rolled over the top of my truck ond down off the back and went on its way. It didn't crush my truck, but probably messed up the paint on top. Then the Turnpike guy said I could go but would have to head inbound and get off at the next exit, so I went on my way, in the opposite direction from what I had wanted...then I woke up.
Flew to Ft. Lauderdale for ThanksgivingStayed at Amerisuites in Plantation, had a nice meal at Alexander's in the same complex.
Hurricane Wilma was 4 1/2 weeks ago, and the damage is still very visible. Many trees down, even saw electric wires on the sidewalk. Many trees appear to have been righted and replanted, with diagonal two-by-four braces to hold them upright until they succeed in re-rooting themselves.
ThanksgivingWent out with Harriet's extended family to Grill Time, a kosher restaurant in North Miami Beach, same as last year. This year it wasn't overcrowded, at least, unlike last year. I had skirt steak, which was tasty but the portion was pretty skimpy.
Film: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2005We tried to get into the iMax version, but the theatre was sold out. Enjoyed it enough on the mere big screen, didn't actually need the gigantic screen.
I haven't read this book, but liked the movie...though the film appeared to be consistently underexposed, unfortunately. Strange that they spend all this money and can't get the exposure right.
Every time I've visited Florida I've lobbied for an airboat ride in the Everglades, and this time I finally wore the rest of the family down, so we drove to Florida Everglades Holiday Park after finding them on the Web. Even got grandma to come along...she was nervous lest it might be choppy, but I assured her that it's not choppy in the Everglades. In the event we all had a ball! The airboat was quite large, with seating for maybe 50 people, though it was far from full. Powered by two Cadillac engines, we were told that it was the largest two-engine airboat in the world. It was big fun planing along at 35 mph through the swamp, then we would stop and the skipper would turn off the engines so we could stalk the wily alligator. We saw a number of 'gators, and lots of exotic birds in our 1 hour excursion.
After the airboat ride, we watched an alligator show at the very funky center, where an entertaining 8-fingered aligator wrangler showed us how it's done.
Had lunch at a Mexican place in Davie, called "Azteca"...it was excellent.
Back at Amerisuites George and I went for a swim in the hotel pool. We were the only ones, and were startled by how cold the water was, considering it is Florida. I'd guess it was about 70 F, not bad at all by New England standards, but not what I would have expected in Florida.
Sent Tova and George back to Sant Cruz and Madison respectively, then Harriet and I went to the Bat Mitzva of one of her cousins, a very nice ceremony with lots of nice cantillation. In the evening we flew back home.
eBook: City of Pearl Karen TravissScience fiction set a couple of hundred years in the future, with an Earth Environmental Hazard police officer leading an expedition to a distant solar system where there was a semi-lost colony of Christian colonists and three warring alien species as well. I liked it.
My 60 GB iPod Photo has been acting up for quite a while. It has been playing OK but for a long time it has been difficult to get it to unmount from the desktop of either computer. This is a pain because I need to connect it to different computers twice a day as I use it to transport files between home and work. I had thought this was a software issue, but when I brought it into the Apple store a couple of weeks ago they determined that it was a problem with the iPod's disc drive, fortunately covered by my AppleCare extended warranty. I just picked up the replacement unit today, it does seem to work better.
Our 26th wedding anniversary!
Love at its best means marriage, and it is altogetherWe've not recovered from Thanksgiving yet, so, rather than go out to dinner, we went to the movies:
the most beautiful thing in life -- William Dean Howells
Film: Jesus is Magic Sarah Silverman, 2005This is basically Silverman's stand-up routine with a bit of other stuff added, but it is quite hilarious, with something to offend everybody. I liked it a lot.
Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Dutilleux, Stravinsky, Carter and Bartók. James Levine, conductor; Tanglewood Festival Chorus.This concert featured 4 works commissioned for the B.S.O. by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation. It opened with the Dutilleux Symphony #2, from 1959. I liked this very much--I don't recall ever hearing anything by Dutilleux before. Much as I liked the piece, it seemed as if the balance was off, because there was a harpsichord prominently placed on the stage, and I could see the harpsichordist obviously playing it from time to time, but I was never sure I could actually hear the instrument!
The Dutilleux was followed by Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, a fine performance, but not one of my favorite Stravinsky pieces.
After the intermission came Carter's Boston Concerto, which, I'm afraid, left me as cold as everything else of Carter's I've ever heard. I'm afraid I just don't get the guy.
The piè de résistance was Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, a fine performance. The program book had an interesting bit about a problem with this piece, which is that it calls for a particular bass trombone slur that is not do-able with the standard modern version of the instrument. The B.S.O.s bass trombonist has had a special instrument manufactured for this, a quite amazingly long one...it did sound great though.
Today is the 10th anniversary of my first Website, for Harris Cyclery . Still going strong, averaging 12,000 to 16,000 visitors per day...I must be doing something right!
eBook: The Lady of the Aroostook William Dean Howells, 1874Lydia Blood is a young woman from a remote Massachusetts hill town. Her aunt arranges for her to visit her in Venice. Due to various misunderstandings, Lydia winds up as the only woman on board the sailing ship Aroostook, which was quite scandalous by the standards of Victorian propriety. The only other passengers are three young men, and most of the book is taken up with the voyage. Naturally one of the other passengers falls in love with her, and she with him, but due to the tight-buttoned social mores of the day, neither of them can acknowledge the attraction.
The last quarter of the book is set in Venice, where we meet Lydia's very droll aunt and uncle. The aunt is an admirer of all things English, and tries to out-English the English in her Venetian circle. Her husband, an Englishman who had spent most of his life in India, in turn is fascinated by America and is a great collector of Americanisms. The sections involving the aunt and uncle are hilarious:"...I used to have a great deal of gayety when I was a girl, and I liked beaux and attentions; and I had very free ways. I couldn't get their stiffness here for years and years, and all through my widowhood it was one wretched failure with me. Do what I would, I was always violating the most essential rules, and the worst of it was that it only seemed to make me the more popular. I do believe it was nothing but my rowdiness that attracted Mr. Erwin; but I determined when I had got an Englishman I would make one bold strike for the proprieties, and have them, or die in the attempt. I determined that no Englishwoman I ever saw should outdo me in strict conformity to all the usages of European society. So I cut myself off from all the Americans, and went with nobody but the English." "Do you like them better?" asked Lydia, with the blunt, child-like directness that had already more than once startled her aunt.
"_Like_ them! I detest them! If Mr. Erwin were a real Englishman, I think I should go crazy; but he's been so little in his own country --all his life in India, nearly, and the rest on the Continent,--that he's quite human; and no American husband was ever more patient and indulgent; and _that_'s saying a good deal. He would be glad to have nothing but Americans around; he has an enthusiasm for them,--or for what he supposes they are. Like the English! You ought to have heard them during our war; it would have made your blood boil! And then how they came crawling round after it was all over, and trying to pet us up! Ugh!"
"If you feel so about them," said Lydia, as before, "why do you want to go with them so much?"
"My dear," cried her aunt, "_to beat them with their own weapons on their own ground_,--to show them that an American can be more European than any of them, if she chooses!
The central theme of this novel deals with the proprieties of relations between the sexes, and contrasts Howells's perception that the Europeans are fixated on the superficial proprieties, such as never allowing a woman to appear in public unchaperoned, while condoning all sorts of flirtation and adultery in practice, with the American approach of coupling internal prudery with a greater surface openness and freedom. It's all a bit strange to a 21st century reader, used to the infinitely greater sexual freedom of our time.
Despite this it's an entertaining read, and gives a good feel for what it must have been like to travel by sea in the waning years of the age of sail.
Film: (DVD) Seabiscuit Gary Ross 2003Not being a sports fan, I'm also not a big fan of sports-related films, but this one came highly recommended. Much of it was enjoyable, if predictable and overdone. William H. Macy was hilarious as a radio announcer.
Film: (DVD) Thirteen Catherine Hardwick 2002I got this from Netflix because if featured Even Rachel Wood, who was so good in Once and Again. Very depressing movie about very dysfunctional family. Wood seems to have been typecast as a wild semi-crazy teenager. The movie was quite lousy, with lots of cheap 'n cheesy "psychedelic" effects.
eBook: 1901 Robert Conroy, 1995An alternate history, with Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany invading the U.S. in 1901, in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. Not as good as a Harry Turtledove, but I'm a sucker for the genre, and enjoyed it anyway.
Lots of snow today!
Film: (DVD) Earthsea Robert Lieberman, 2004I read Ursula K. Leguin's original Earthsea trilogy many years ago, don't remember it in detail but do remember it being a LOT better than this piece of dreck film. Run Away! Run Away!
Film: (DVD) Komarr Lois McMaster Bujold, 1999It has been a while since I read the earlier books in the The Miles Naismith/Vorsigian series, and I'd forgotten how much fun they are! Highly recommended for fans of science fiction, but you should start at the beginning with Cordelia's Honor
Jack Langstaff , R.I.P.At a Christmas Revels rehearsal tonight, we learned of the death of Jack Langstaff , founder of the Christmas Revels, at the age of 84. It was my great privilege and honor to know him, and to share the Sanders Theatre stage with him in the 1995 Christmas Revels. We will all miss him, but will strive to carry on the traditions and virtual family he established.
Christmas Revels Dress RehearsalThis was actually the first complete run through, but it went quite well, and was well received by the audience.
There was a photo op afterward, I handed my camera to Chris Ripman, who took some of the photos below before handing it off to Mayhew...
Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall, Harvard UniversityThis is the magnificent building the Christmas Revels has been in for the last 35 years. It was built in the late 19th Century as a memorial to the Harvard men who lost their lives fighting to save the Union in the Slavery War. It's a spectacular bit of high Victorian architecture, even more gorgeous inside than out.
This view is heavily photoshopped, there's a clutter of street lights and other stuff in the way, and you can't get far enough away to get a good view of this side of it because there's a fire station blocking the view. I used a wide angle (18 mm) setting to get in as much as I did, then straightened out the drastically converging verticals with Photoshop CS2. I must admit that I also juiced up the color a bit, so this image is more idealized than realistic.
The three images below are all "clickable"
Here's a 360 degree panoramic image of the interior of Sanders Theatre,
from the 2000 Christmas Revels dress rehearsal.
Sorry, the plugin for this panoramic image is no longer available.
December 14, 2000IPIX image by Sheldon Brown
To the right is an image of the Sanders Theatre lobby during the intermission of the Christmas Revels, December 18, 2005
The first act of the Christmas Revels traditionally ends with The Lord of the Dance, by Sidney Carter , as an audience participation event/dance. The cast leads the audience out of the theatre and into the lobby in a sinuous line dance, with everybody singing at the top of their lungs:
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He,
And I'll lead you all, whoever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he
Double header at Revels today, shows #8 & 9, now we're off for the Christmas weekend, with 8 more shows to come next week. It has been going very well, each show seems to be better than the last.
eBook: Elsie Venner Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1861Holmes's best-known serious work, the central thesis is that people aren't really responsible for their actions, but are the virtue of their nature/nurture.
Holmes was a physician, in a time before psychiatry as we now know it had been invented. This novel is basically a psychological study, but using different terms and metaphors than have become standard since Freud.
The principal metaphor is the snake, and Elsie's cold, intense affect is constantly likened to that of the snake.
Her mother had been ill during pregnancy, and, indeed died 3 weeks after delivering Elsie. By the time of the book's action, Elsie is 18 and has been treated with kid gloves by everybody, because everybody is terrified of her. Her "diamond" eyes have a hypnotic effect on people, but she is incapable of feeling or inspiring love. Holmes seems to give more weight to the "nature" side than the "nurture." His interpretation of Darwin's then new theories reinforces and justifies his basic snobbery. (This book features and defines the term "Boston Brahmin" and may well be the first place that term was used in print.)
It is set in a medium-sized Massachusetts town, which is home to the "Appolinean Institute, a "female academy" where the title character is a student.
The town contains two protestant churches, facing one another across the main street. One is a strict denomination, perhaps Congregationalist or Baptist, the other is liberal denomination, presumably Unitarian. Howells stirs the pot by having the strict church led by a kindly, avuncular open-minded minister, Rev. Dr. Honeywood, while the Unitarian minister, Dr. Fairweather, is a cold, rigid man with secret Papist leanings. When they argue, they are at cross purposes as each attributes opposite characteristics to the other...
Holmes the doctor is very evident in this, one of the central characters is the town doctor, and Holmes devotes a lot of print to detailing his theories of how a doctor should conduct himself. (As a physician, Holmes was considered somewhat radical in his day. He did much to popularize the idea of sterile surgery, and also promoted the use of anesthetics such as ether and chloroform which were just then coming into use, amidst great controversy.)
Here are a couple of images in my costumes for the show:
More photos, these are by Roger Ide:
George flew in around noon, now the whole family is back together for a couple of weeks!
Book: William Dean Howells-A Writer's Life Susan Goodman, Carl Dawson 2005I don't much read books on paper these days, but this caught my eye at the library. I'm a big fan of Howells's books, so I picked up this bio.
Howells was one of the key figures of the 19th century Golden Age of American Literature. He is widely credited as the father of the "realist" movement, in reaction to the "romantic" ethos that prevailed in the early 19th century. He was a very prolific writer of books and plays, as well as reviews and editorials during his tenure as editor of The Atlantic and The Nation. An adopted member of the Boston/Concord literary elite, he did a great deal to promote the careers of many of the younger writers coming out of the American West, including Bret Harte, Hamlin Garland and, above all, Mark Twain. Howells and Twain were actually best friends, as well as sometime collaborators. They shared similar midwestern background similar aesthetic attitudes and similar progressive political ideals, especially their opposition to imperialism.
Christmas with the FamilyNice to have everybody together again for a few days. I have the weekend off from the Christmas Revels, so get to spend some time with the rest of the pack.
Vlog: RocketboomLately I've become a big fan of Rocketboom and the adorable Amanda Congdon...check it out!
Christmas Revels shows #14 & 15I was kind of dragging today, hope I'll have enough energy for tomorrow's doubleheader finale...
eBook: A Civil Action Lois McMaster BujoldAnother in the The Miles Naismith/Vorsigian series, with Miles courting the widow he met in Komarr.
eBook: Winterfair Gifts Lois McMaster BujoldA novella, centering on Miles's wedding.
Christmas Revels shows #16 & 17Well, I seem to have gotten my second wind, these two shows went just great! Helped strike the set afterwards, then on to the cast party where I ate too much plum pudding...
At the Circle before the first show, David Coffin revealed that he had been wearing Jack Langstaff's Morris bell pads for the Lord of the Dance in the previous shows, and would be doing so in the matinée...but then changing to his own set for the last show. I was touched, and tears dimmed my sight as he told this. We do so miss Jack.
eBook: Diplomatic Immunity Lois McMaster Bujold 2003The latest in the The Miles Naismith/Vorsigian series, Miles's honeymoon is interrupted by an interstellar crisis...
Harriet and I had a very quiet New Years, didn't even have the TV on, just cuddled on the couch through the turn of the year.
|Books reviewed on this page:
|Lavoisier in the Year One
|Madison Smartt Bell
|Lois McMaster Bujold
|A Civil Action
|Lois McMaster Bujold
|Lois McMaster Bujold
|Lois McMaster Bujold
|Grantville Gazette 4
|William Dean Howells-A Writer's Life
|Susan Goodman & Carl Dawson
|Oliver Wendell Holmes
|The Lady of the Aroostook
|William Dean Howells
|City of Pearl
|End of the Beginning
|Films reviewed on this page:
|Boys on the Side
|November 16, 2005
|December 9, 2005
|Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
|November 24, 2005
|Jesus is Magic
|December 2, 2005
|Meet the Fockers
|November 7, 2005
|Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
|November 19, 2005
|Pride and Prejudice
|November 12, 2005
|December 4, 2005
|December 7, 2005
|Music reviewed on this page:
|December 3, 2005
|B.S.O., James Levine.
|Dutilleux, Stravinsky, Carter & Bartók
|November 29, 2002
|November 23, 2001
|Helen Mirren, Ian McKelln
|The Dance of Death-August Strindberg
|September 30, 2000
|Tova/Black Box Theatre, Cornell University
|The Maids-Jean Genet
|May 30, 2000
|Kelsey Grammer/Colonial Theatre
|May 26, 2000
|The Huntington Theatre Co.
|King Hedley II
|September 3, 1999
|The Publick Theatre
|August 21, 1999
|Orange Tree Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.
|August 13, 1999
|Firehouse Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.
|Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You
|Newton South/North High Schools
|December 18, 1998
|Newton North High School
|The Bone Violin, May Flies
|November 12, 1998
|Newton North High School
|To Kill a Mockingbird
|November 21-24, 2007
|September 25-28, 2007
|Las Vegas, Nevada
|August 18-25, 2007
|Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
|November 22-26, 2006
|September 25-28, 2006
|Las Vegas (Interbike)
|June 10-20, 2006
|Santa Cruz, California
|May 5-7, 2006
|November 23, 2005
|September 26-29, 2005
|Interbike, Las Vegas, Nevada
|August 26-28, 2005
|'Bentride 2005, Bath, N.Y.
|July 21-24, 2005
|Family Reunion, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
|April 29, 2005
|Cirque de Cyclisme, Greensboro, N.C.
|February 16, 2005
|November 24, 2004
|October 8, 2004
|Santa Cruz, California
|October 4, 2004
|Las Vegas, Nevada
|June 8, 2004
|December 22, 2003
|Halifax, Nova Scotia
|November 27, 2003
|October 31, 2003
|October 10, 2003
|Las Vegas, Nevada
|September 21, 2003
|New York, N.Y.
|November 27-30, 2002
|New York, N.Y.
|October 8-13, 2002
|October 4-8, 2002
|Las Vegas, Nevada
|July 3-9, 2002
|Canso, Nova Scotia
|May 24-27, 2002
|Long Island, New York
|November 21-24, 2001
|New York City
|October 16-19, 2001
|Cape Cod, Massachusetts
|September 29-October 3, 2001
|Las Vegas, Nevada (Interbike Show)
|June 16-23, 2001
|Nags Head, North Carolina
|October 5-14, 2000
|September 30-October 2, 2000
|Ithaca, New York
|June 22-25, 2000
|October 7-13, 1999
|August 19-28, 1999
|Ithaca, New York
|August 12-13, 1999
|Ithaca, New York
|July 23-25, 1999
|November 25-28, 1998
|Fort Lauderdale, Florida
|England, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Turkey
Last Updated: by Harriet Fell