the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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V-V Day (Victory Over Valentines)

Well! Another February 14 draws to a close, and (luckily, thankfully) it's been a very, very good one thus far.

On the work front: we weathered the storm with aplomb, our site never faltering under the onslaught of the greetings industry's biggest day, while our competitors dropped like flies. W00t! A side benefit of today's success is that David Stanek and I won't look like idiots at PyCon next week when we promote the idea that Python plays nicely in the enterprise; the metaphorical egg is nowhere even close to our faces, and that's a great feeling.

I wasn't assigned to any particular monitoring shift today, so I had a few hours to tinker... and ended up cobbling together some Twisted magic to create an HTTP-to-AIM/IRC bot that would allow us to plug our monitoring scripts directly into our internal chatrooms. I had to fix a bug in Twisted's Oscar library (for talking with AIM) in order to get it to work; hopefully the maintainer will accept my (very) simple patch. It's working out well so far, so I think that as I get the chance, I'll be cleaning it up and extending it to provide all kinds of other functionality for us. It should be pretty cool.

Meanwhile! Liz demonstrates her thorough and complete awesomeness yet again: first by dragging me to last night's Spanish wine dinner at Mallorca, second by hooking me up with tasty Christmas ale and insanely good chocolates, third by picking up takeout dinner from Moosehead (mmm, wild buffalo rolls...), fourth for making sure I stay up to date on Dick Cheney's Bogus Journey, and, above all else, for putting up with my deranged little self. This woman has the patience of a saint, not to mention smarts galore, and dare I say it--mad hotness!

Now the trick will be to get back into a normal rhythm after all the craziness...

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Of Rings and Regular Expressions

Keeping busy. More than a little stressed. The next couple of days are (as usual) critical. So far so good, though...

I've graduated from being assigned weird shifts for monitoring the farm during Val to being on call 24x7 for the duration; I'm not sure if this is an improvement or not, but it allowed me to attend the Lord of the Rings symphony on Saturday night. Liz and I met up with friends for dinner at the Severance Hall restaurant (tasty, though I had the world's dullest steak knife) and then marvelled at how tight the symphony had gotten since we'd first heard it. The Cleveland Orchestra brought their "A game" and really rocked my socks; I got all weepy-eyed in all the right places. Beautiful, and a great early Valentine's gift to ourselves!

I spent a bit of time today fixing up some geeky things that have been bothering me. I twiddled's CSS a bit to be better behaved in IE, moved my IE-specifc hacks into a separate stylesheet to help get me ready for IE 7. And I finally managed to hunt down the bug in that was causing it to mangle content so badly (any "<br />" ended up getting doubled twice by its "cleanup" routines, and some bits of nearby text and other tags would get similarly repeated). I filed a bug with a very simple patch, so hopefully it'll get folded into the main release at some point, so no one else will have to suffer. It's amazing how different <(\S+?)\s*?/> (bad) and <([^\s>]+?)\s*?/> (good) can be.

Other than that, nothing exciting (other than watching the Canadian women's hockey team annihilate pretty much everything in their path). At this point, I'm just hoping to survive the next two days!

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Allez Cuisine!

Liz's birthday is on New Year's Eve (apparently her folks really wanted to claim the deduction ASAP), and since we generally prefer not to go out when it's going to be a suicidal drunkfest on the highways, we tend to stay in and fix up something tasty to enjoy. This year, as part of her birthday present, Liz wanted me to plan, purchase, and prepare dinner; I've picked up enough from her that I was able to crank out the following tasty feast with only her minimal assistance and advice:

Cheese Platter

  • Brillat Savarin, France
  • Langres, France
  • Chimay la Biere, Belgium
  • Pate of foie gras with black truffles
  • Toast points and provencale water crackers
  • Wine: NV Casteller Cava, Spain


  • Mesculin greens
  • Crisped pancetta
  • Pomegranite
  • Crumbled bleu cheese
  • Crumbled pecans
  • Balsamic vinagrette dressing

Main Course

  • Long bone veal chops
  • Rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes
  • Wine: 2001 Clos de L'lovac, Priorat


  • Bananas Foster
  • Mitchell's vanilla ice cream
  • Wine: NV Bonny Doon Muscat Vin De Glacier

Bubbles Redux

(For properly ringing in the New Year)

  • 1996 Gosset-Brabant, Ay, Champagne

Everything turned out just about as perfect as could be (yay) and I didn't manage to burn down the house with the Bananas Foster (double yay), so I'm feeling pretty darn good about the whole thing.

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"Honey Do" List -> "Honey Did" List

Phew! Even though I've been on vacation for a week, I don't think I've been so busy in a long time! The cause? Liz crafted an elaborate "honey do" list to help me pass the time. Since last Friday, I've vacuumed, scrubbed, buffed, shined, mopped, painted, repaired, mailed, and picked up just about everything in the house that a person can do those things to. (Well, other than the hand rail in the stairwell, and the coat rack in the laundry room, both of which have recently torn out of their respective walls and need some serious love to properly address them.) On a related note, I am now a big fan of the Method products--specifically the stainless steel cleaner, which worked absolute miracles on our sink and stove.

Oh, and our guest bedroom is now a lovely purple color, a refreshing change from the entirely too drab white that it had been for many years. (It's now Benjamin Moore's "Wild Orchid"--many thanks to [info]butterandjelly for providing objective third-party input on the matter; I definitely think it was the right choice.) I know it wasn't the most brilliant idea to repaint the guest bedroom mere days before the impending arrival of guests, but it's done now, and looks nice, and there's to be no more painting until 2006, so that's all that matters. Right?

My mother-in-law has arrived to help celebrate Christmas; as always it's good to see her. Last night we hung ornaments on the tree, had a marvelous feast of braised short ribs, and watched A Christmas Story last night to officially inaugurate the season.

Today, there's very little on the agenda, so once I get cleaned up and get some food into me, I think it's high time for some well-deserved KotOR2. Yes, I think that would be just lovely.

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Winding Down

My tasks are wrapped up.

Our techies are having a holiday party at Dave and Buster's. Like schoolkids waiting for the last bell before a break, we are dismissed at one o'clock today, which seems like it will never come--time has stretched and slowed into an infinity of sluggish molasses.

And I'm on vacation until January. Aww, yeah... ;-)

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Two Weekends for the Price of One

Had two completely different weekends in one the past two days--one lazy and relaxing, and one busy and productive.

On the lazy front: sleeping in, watching the snow fall, playing with the cats, watching TV and movies of varying badness (from Hellboy to a Gene Autry movie whose title I never caught, but which was excellent MST3K fodder), wine and cheese, and staying up obscenely late playing KotOR2 (aka "The Next Damn Star Wars Game").

Busy? You bet: we set up and lit the Christmas tree, put some paint samples on the wall in the guest bedroom (and possibly chose a winner), renewed the repainting effort with the master bedroom and master bathroom doors, shoveled snow, cleaned up the kitchen a bit, prepped the annual Christmas letter, wrapped and shipped family gifts, roughed out the schedule for the upcoming visits from my mother-in-law and my parents, and researched replacement doorknobs (as ours are, to put it politely, "dated").

It would be nice, at some point, if perhaps it could stop snowing for more than a day or so at a time, but it's so far looking like my only recourse is to either grump about it here or simply shut up and cope.

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The Sleepy Cat Health Care Plan

Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

It's funny how much better life is when you have cats pin you down in bed for several days on end. I'm feeling significantly better, and quite thankful to have shaken off the worst of what by all accounts is the Cold From Hell. Everyone seems to be getting it, and it seems to be a uniformly miserable experience. It does make for some fun conversations, though--"Have you gotten The Headache yet?" and similar.


In other news:

I thoroughly enjoyed the Wallace and Gromit movie, which is not so much laugh-a-minute as it is a constant good-natured chuckle. It's a delightful little film.

I was not prepared for the "Madagascar Penguins" Christmas-themed short cartoon though--is it just me, or does Christmas start sooner every year? It was a cute cartoon, but it probably won't even be playing when it's even remotely seasonal. Can we please, pretty please, with Jack Skellington on top, please not start with the holiday cheer until after Halloween?

I determined that my lack of forward motion on experimenting with TurboGears was the lack of a proverbial itch to scratch (well, that and the whole coughing up my lungs thing). Luckily, I think I've managed to uncover an itch from some ages back, so at least now I have a little direction and focus. It's also been a bit of fun to hang on the #turbogears IRC channel and occasionally have something useful to contribute.

On house-related matters, not only am I now the proud owner of attic insulation (installed even), we are halfway to having bathroom fans that are actually effective at circulating air and moisture out of the house. Much rejoicing! To counterbalance this otherwise sunny progress report, however, it seems that our lawn mower has, with a saddening sigh, released the last of its Magic Blue Smoke, and try as we might to convince it otherwise, it seems that it shall mow no more. The timing was oddly perfect--the first dry day that both of us have been in good enough health or schedule to allow us to partake lawn maintenance, and boom! It wouldn't be that bad, except both neighbors mowed their lawns this weekend, so ours bears an increasing resemblance to jungle foliage. Definitely not high on the curb appeal scale.

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I could vent at length about my day, but there's really no point.

Instead, I would just like to pause and note that today is 05/05/05, or, as I have decided to call it, "Cinco Cubed". The next coolest date for Cinco de Mayo will be 2055, and I doubt that by the next time an 05/05/05 date rolls around any of us will be here to enjoy it, unless of course we get assimilated by benevolent nano-bots, convert ourselves into pure energy, or get bitten by vampires, in which case we probably have other issues to deal with.

So -- this means that all who are capable of doing so should enjoy themselves, pronto! This day isn't coming again for the likes of you and me.

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This Week In Misc. Goodness

After working eleven days straight, the weekend--a weekend, any weekend--is almost in sight. Hip-hip-fucking-huzzah!!

In brief: Valentine's Day. We. Owned. It. Oh, baby, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh! After a year's worth of fear, worry, and despair, it turned out that two or three weeks of frantic last-minute preparation paid off, and we sailed through our biggest day of the year, while all major competition--including Hallmark, who had paid presumably incomparable bills to IBM to pimp out their website--were crushed and left in little flaming piles by the side of the road. By mid-morning, when we started to see that we were going to hold up just fine, the shouts arose among the geeky rabble, testing the patience of the Fates--BRING! IT! ON! For the rest of the week, we of Technology were hailed as kings among men, celebrated with passing cheers and mass-emailed barbaric YAWPS from our senior management. For once, it is a very good week to be me.

Thus, I have been able to really enjoy this week's belated Valentine's dinner at Parallax, which is truly a culinary delight. Polite company might term it "Asian food in French style meets French food in Asian style." Trendy company might simply refer to it as "fusion." After a parade of wines, sushi, appetizers, salads, and entrees, I cannot describe it as anything other than this: FUCKING AMAZING. I apologize if the strong language burns your eyes or makes the Baby Jesus cry, but, honestly, this is the kind of place that can't be expressed without HBO-level warning labels.

Some would call the sushi menu limited, but it is simply focused, and what is offered is without flaw; I haven't tasted its equal since our trips to Vancouver or San Francisco. The spicy tuna was especially marvelous. Also consumed were massive appetizer plates of calamari (yum!) and smoked salmon (double-yum!); a salad of seared scallops, bacon, baby greens, and tomatoes, with a light cream sauce; Alaskan black cod with a miso glace; and, one of the evening's specials, a crispy half-duck in a Szechuan glaze, served with a bed of perfect sushi rice.

On the alcohol front, we sampled a tasty non-vintage bubbly (to celebrate), an Austrian Gruner Veltliner (round and delicious, like the best parts of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc), a German Gew&uuml;ztraminer, a French Chenin Blanc, a lovely and very well-balanced New Zealand Pinot Noir, and--star of the show--cold, unfiltered sake!! Ever since our first encounter with this marvelous creature at a Berkeley sushi joint last summer, finding cold, unfiltered sake has been like a Grail quest for us. Most places have never heard of such a thing, and those that have are afraid to serve it because it is so unlike what most people consider sake to be. Thankfully, Parallax serves a bottle of the stuff that is damn near perfect, and a real blessing to behold in conjunction with the well-executed menu.

The service was very good throughout our meal; our waiter (a Champagne transplant) very quickly figured out our relaxed, try a bit of everything approach to dinner, and we never felt rushed--even after we closed out the main dining area, he was still puckishly tempting us with dessert.

So, to sum up... If you enjoy food, if you enjoy wine, if you enjoy the two together, Parallax should go immediately to the top of your to-do list.

Tomorrow, after an endless stream of pseudo-Thursdays, it is finally Friday, and the celebration continues with early-birthday treats: a trip to Chicago for One Man Lord of the Rings and the tasting menu at Topolobampo.

It's good to be the [info]exilejedi.... :-)

PS: Valentine says hello from her perch on my lap. Meow!

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One Down, Three to Go

Have completed my first of four 5 AM to 2 PM shifts for Valentine's Day. Managed to find and fix a couple production bugs today, whee! It's just not Val without seat-of-your-pants bug fixes at strange hours of the morning. Other than that, so far, so good. I still think it's not going to be difficult until Monday.

Really, really tired, though. Was so worried about getting up on time this morning that I barely slept. Ugh.

One down, three to go........

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