Author Archives: nate

Gonna Do It

During my latest ill-advised bout of blog infrastructure tinkering, I managed to change to the newer, cleaner template, and in the process completely invalidate my old stylesheet. I also did a bit of tweaking to try to make comments 1) doable and 2) reasonably impervious to spam, and succeeded on point 1 but failed utterly on point 2.

Time for a clean start. Gonna move to WordPress. New directories and filenames will hopefully throw the comment spam off the trail. Lost links to old articles will be too bad, but hey, not like I’m writing anything worth linking to at the moment anyway. Nothing like an extended blogging hiatus to make switching platforms seem like not that big a deal.

I’ll keep the root url the same, though. Will probably change Cerin Amroth‘s url to something different, seeing as it’s gonna be about two kids in a while. Anyway, if the main page appears as one form or another of gobbledeegook in the near future, this is why.

Testing out Writely, Google’s

Testing out Writely, Google’s new web-based word processor. I’m aware that Google appears intent on conquering the world. But they do seem to come up with interesting toys. We’ll see if their brags are correct and I can post directly from here to the blog.

UPDATE: Seems to have worked, other than screwing up the title.

Three Colorado Thoughts

1. There’s a part of your soul that gets replenished when you go into the mountains. If you haven’t been to the mountains in a while, the effect is profound. If there’s some other activity that fills up that same part of the soul, I haven’t discovered it.

2. If I could go back in time, I would do my darnedest to be at Red Rocks on June 5, 1983 and August 15, 1995. Being there a decade or two later, during the day, watching just a few people rehearse on the stage, and explaining to your daughter that all of those strange and wonderful sounds she hears are coming from one instrument, the electric guitar . . . all that is pretty cool too, though.

3. Is it even possible to drink enough water to keep from feeling totally dry?

Number Two

We have news! Suanna is pregnant. Here’s the FAQ:

Q: Seriously?

A: Yep.

Q: Wow . . . I mean, like, I didn’t know if you were gonna have another one or not.

A: Neither did we. But then we decided to give it a shot.

Q: Now you’re gonna end up with like four or five, right?

A: The plan is to stop at two.

Q: So, when’s Suanna due?

A: December 16, which means she’s early in the second trimester right now.

Q: Are you gonna find out the gender, and if so are you gonna tell us?

A: Yes and yes.

Q: So do you know right now?!

A: Nope. The technician wasn’t able to hazard a guess at the ultrasound. But you are more than welcome to engage in your own speculation; here’s a picture:

Q: Do you guys want a boy now, for balance or whatever?

A: Not necessarily. In fact, when we were at the ultrasound and the technician was trying to figure it out, I realized that, in my gut, I wanted it to be another girl.

Q: Maybe on the theory that another girl might be as wonderful, easygoing, and non-troublesome as Ella?

A: Hey, it was a gut feeling. But that may have had something to do with it.

Q: You realize, though, that after Ella you guys are totally fated to get a screaming terror of a child that will have you in a constant state of frazzlement for the next 18 years?

A: The cards are stacked against us, it’s true.

Q: So what does Ella think of the prospect of having a sibling?

A: We haven’t told her yet. That is to say, we haven’t sat down with her and explained everything in language we know she can understand. We have talked about it with each other in her presence pretty liberally, so she’s got to have an inkling that Something Is Going On.

Q: So how much of it do you think she gets already?

A: If history is any judge, way more than we’d guess.

Q: This is all very exciting. Who’s allowed to know? May I spread the word?

A: You certainly may.


Opened up comments and trackbacks again, after finally tweaking some spam settings. Hopefully won’t regret it. Chatter away.

This Makes Me Chipper

Are you feeling a little down today, seeing as it’s 6/6/06 and the world is gonna end? I’ve got some good news for you. Fafblog has returned, after being gone for far too long. So enjoy, for the next six hours, give or take depending on time zone.

If Fafnir and Co are back to stay I may have to start writing more here, or I’m gonna lose my link from their site . . .

Return to the Brickskeller

We ate tonight at the Brickskeller, in Dupont Circle, a fine basement dive that boasts the world’s largest beer list. Throughout the 90’s this was a favorite haunt and a default destination when Suanna and I had visitors in town, but somehow along the way we stopped going. When one of our visitors this weekend suggest we return there, we realized it had been at least five years since our last visit.

The place hasn’t changed much, which, in this case, was comforting. I can recommend without reservation the Schneider Hefe Weizen and the Zywiec Porter (Polish porter — who knew?). But the food disappointed. Neither the cheese plate, nor the pizza, nor the Brickburger measured up to our cherished memories of past visits.

And therein lies the puzzle. What has changed — them or us? Has the quality of the food served at the Brickskeller taken a dive in recent years? Or have our culinary standards changed in the transition from 20s to 30s, so that now stuff that seemed wonderful no longer measures up? Hard to say for sure, though if any readers have dined at the Brickskeller both recently and long ago and can shed light on at least one half of the puzzle, by all means let me know.

Unlikely Bliss

I knew when we moved that it would be kind of nice to have a YMCA just a couple blocks away. Little did I suspect how much use I’d get out of it, though. The key factor here is one of the perks of membership: free childcare for an hour and half during the morning. Because of this, heading over to the YMCA has become a morning ritual for Ella and me, usually five days a week. There are three nodes of happiness:

1. A break from childcare. Not that it’s wearing on me that early in the day, but the early break means my batteries last that much longer. And the exposure to a daycare-like situation is definitely good for Ella.

2. Exercise. Insert the standard comments about how exercising gives you more energy throughout the day here. After a few weeks of it, I can definitely tell the difference in terms of energy, strength, and overall sense of fitness. Not much change in weight yet — appaerently there’s some evidence out there that one also has to adjust diet when losing weight? Gah, I hope not.

3. Susanna Clarke. After a couple false starts at reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’m finally halfway through and going strong, by listening to the audiobook version on my iPod while toiling away on the elliptical machine. The world is full of audiobooks that are worthless because they have a lousy reader. This, thankfully, is not one of them. 31 hours of audio means it’s gonna last for a good while yet. And the nature of the book, rife as it is with footnotes, asides, meandering descriptions, and Victorian flourishes, means that when my attention wanders for a minute or two, as always seems to happen when listening to a novel, chances are that I haven’t missed anything particularly essential to the plot.

They Got the Bastard

I didn’t blog on Charles Taylor’s capture when it happened, but thankfully, the event was decently covered in the media — a healthy change from the treatment Liberia usually gets.

So anyway — Yay! He’s in the hands of the Sierra Leone Special Court. Might be tried there, or in the Hague — that’s the current source of debate. That Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf called for his extradition at all came as a welcome surprise. After all, she had visited the U.S. just prior, and had been decidedly noncommital on the issue. Other than a few members of Congress who have been on the Taylor issue (sometimes “a tad overzealously”:, the U.S. government hasn’t been particularly enthusiastic about stirring up Taylor trouble by reeling him in. The State Department seems to have been happy with him boxed up in exile, not causing (as much) trouble. The White House, predisposed against the International Criminal Court, was disinclined to support any action that might lend it credence. And if the conventional wisdom, that Taylor has CIA connections from back when he was the alternative to President Doe, holds any weight, then there’s another bunch of folks with no desire to see him on the witness stand.

But Johnson-Sirleaf asked for him anyway. Good for her. When I first heard that he had flown the coop in Calabar, I would have bet real money that that was the end of it — that he’d turn up again in one shady country or another, someplace harder to extract him from, and that he’d live out his days there, Idi Amin-style. Turns out he even made it to the border, but no further.

Now the long, long wait for the trial process to turn up anything worth writing home about. In the meantime, here’s my main question: why isn’t “Douglas Farah”: being interviewed, quoted, or otherwise turned-to every single day on this issue? Am I just in on the wrong news outlets? You’d think someone with some things to say about “the possible connections between Taylor and Al Qaeda”: would attract a little more attention.

Oh well. They got the bastard. That’s something.

The Return of Music

One big difference in the layout of the new Polytropos HQ is that the computer desk is in the bedroom. It used to be in the main room, which made playing music easy — the computer speakers were decent enough for the job, and the computer is where all the music was, anyway. Ever since moving I’ve known that some sort of solution would be needed to play the music from the computer on the stereo in the living room, since the alternative — taking physical CDs out of the big CD binder and putting them into the CD/DVD player — wasn’t going to happen all that often, in practice.

I realized yesterday, when we had some people over and I was wanting to put on some dinner music, that in the two months since we’d moved I had just sort of stopped listening to music very much. And that was appalling. So after a flurry of online research to confirm what I already suspected, I went out and got an Airport Express. It’s plugged into the outlet near the stereo; standard RCA cables connect it to the receiver. Took 5 minutes to get it talking to the wireless network. As I write this, I’m sitting at the laptop on the couch, accessing the shared music library on the desktop in the bedroom, and playing the music through the stereo speakers. The new[1] Franz Ferdinand album sounds very fine, as have the new[1] Belle & Sebastian and Neko Case. I declare myself quite chipper, indeed.

fn1. I realize it’s probably not new any more, but I’m always a few months behind on music these days, and it’s new to _me_ dang it!