I really have been trying to read a bit more — and Troy got me some great books for Christmas too.

albright.jpgMadame Secretary: A Memoir by Madeleine Albright. Finally finished this book that mom gave me a while back. Fun to read back through the glory days of the Clinton administration, when people still knew how to spell “diplomacy” and “multi-lateral”. I’ve always loved Madeleine, and now I think I know why. She is an intellectual, powerful and a woman. We girls just don’t get a lot of role-models at her level and I relished reading about her story, the decisions she made, and the international actions she formulated. Role models matter.
davinci.jpgThe Da Vinci Code is a not very well-written fun read. I love a good puzzle, and though some of these puzzles were weak, the fact that they were based on history, religion and art made them more exciting. My understanding this book has upset some Christians, because it tells some truths the Church would like to keep hidden (like Mary Magdelene’s gospel) and it exaggerates some speculations and presents them as true, which might confuse folks who forget this is a work of fiction. I read it in a day.
pattern.jpgPattern Recognition by William Gibson. Well, this was a bit odd. I wasn’t really expecting a suspense, and after Da Vinci Code I was ready to dismiss the genre (not something I normally read), but outside of the plot of this book were some very interesting commentary. I like the idea of a protagonist allergic to corporate logos and brands, and snippets of video slowly discovered around the internet by obsessed fans trying to assemble the message. I just think I’m more of the type to enjoy a moody drama that explored these ideas rather than worldwide thriller. I think it would be a good movie.
nomad.jpgPractical Nomad. Troy surprised me with this book from my wish list. I even dreamt last night that we took a year to travel around the world. With our jobs, we could, which is pretty cool. A lot of the book is just common sense or directed to the backpack traveller, and I think I am beyond it or already know it. However, you should buy this (or his other book, something like a guide to online travel) because he explains exactly how the airline ticketing business works. I was surprised to learn that for international tickets you are better going to a travel agent specializing in travel to your destination (regardless of their proximity to your departure city) rather than using an online service. Very worthwhile.

Last post of 2003, so I should quickly summarize the last couple weeks.

For Christmas, I got lots of goodies. The biggies are homebrewing equipment and an electronic weather station. I brewed beer years ago but no longer have all the equipment, so Gay got all the stuff and in 2-3 more weeks, I’ll have my first batch. Plus, Gay got me the kegging equipment and a tower so we are going to install a kegerator in our wet bar so I can have fresh homebrew straight from the tap. (New Year’s Resolution: exercise more to burn off all the beer calories!).

The weather station hooks up to the computer so I can monitor and record all the critical weather info: wind direction & speed, rainfall, barometric pressure, dew point and even the temperature. I’ll have that info up on this site for all to see. Geeky? Yes. I’m a dork, dorks can’t just stop being dorks.

Christmas Eve & Christmas were both fun, although too much drinking! Fortunately, I’ve since decided to concentrate on beer-drinking — wine and bourbon just don’t do me any good.

The day after Christmas I got sick. Not sure if it’s the flu or just a bad cold, but it knocked me out. I’m still getting over it today. So I’ve been spending my time on low-brain-power stuff like recording more and more stats for the site and graphing the historical data with (the great) RRD Tool.

Last night it snowed! Snow on Vashon. I think this our first.

Very Merry Christmas

Our Christmas this year was in the top five all time holidays — and that includes the one when I got my first bike. We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner with friends on the island, John, Deborah and JT Bender, with their friends the Mitchells. Christmas dinner was here with friends Mark & Lee, Lee’s sister & brother-in-law Nathalie & Robert visiting from England, Steve & Renuka & son Owen, and the Agostinelli sisters Jen & Nicki. We drank lots of champagne and home made egg nog (Troy). We had a lovely roast beef dinner complete with traditional Yorkshire puddings and English Roasters and (Steve’s first time) horseradish sauce, mostly orchestrated by Lee; followed by Christmas Pudding and brandy sauce which came all the way from England; followed by a game of Pictionary; further followed by the largest piece of Stilton I have ever seen and port wine, another gift of Nathalie & Robert. It really was delightful in every corny sense of the word.

The internet and democratic software are visible players in the 2004 Presidential election. This is a far cry from just the 1996 election where no candidate even knew what the internet was and few even used computers. But 2004 is different. Clark is starting an open source project to build campaign software for anyone to use. And Dean, the most internet-aware candidate, has been aggressively using the internet in his campaign. Coincidentally, we were notified by our ad agency a couple days ago that the Dean campaign has bought advertising on Recipezaar. We’re going to be part of US History as I’m sure the internet will continue to play a larger role in politics. (I’d better study up on Dean’s platform cuz I’m sure we’ll be accused of being Dean-supporters because of this).

UN endorses open source: Samuel GuimarĂ£es, executive secretary in Brazil’s foreign ministry, told government representatives at the summit meeting’s opening sessions that free-to-share software is crucial for the developing world because it enables poorer countries to develop their own technology instead of having to import it.