Hanny’s “the construction is killing us” Sale

Posted by me on Tuesday, the 20th day of November, anno domini 2007 at 3:21 PM, local time.

So, those of you in Rochester during November might be interested to know that Hanny’s clothing store downtown is having a huge sale this month, mostly because the construction on 1st Ave and 1st St is making it very difficult to see Hanny’s at all, or even get to it. I imagine its being quite cruel to their holiday earnings. At any rate, almost everything is on sale, in the 25% to 30% range.

For those of you not familiar with Hanny’s, they are a pretty good “nice-clothes” clothing store. Their men’s-ware section has lots of suits, suit coats, over coats, leather jackets, hats, canes, sweaters, socks, ties, dress pants, dress shirts, dress shoes, etc., etc. I’ll probably be going back after Thanksgiving to get a new leather jacket, and maybe a new hat. My old leather jacket is at least 8 or 9 years old now, and getting a little rough around the edges. The people inside are friendly and helpful, but not annoying, like at some places I-could-mention-and-might-eventually-mention-but-won’t-right-now. In the subway level, they have women’s clothes, too, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge there. It could all suck.

Anyway, there is my plug for Hanny’s and their November sale.

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Yay Zooey!

Posted by me on Wednesday, the 7th day of November, anno domini 2007 at 10:23 AM, local time.

So, everybody likes The Wizard of Oz, right? The quintessential American Fairytale (arguably, one of the only ones). The books are fun to read, and although aimed at children, adults are not uninterested. The movie is a timeless classic. A cornerstone of our modern culture. (I can’t back that up.) A feast for the eyes, the brain, and the heart. Unsurpassable.

What need have we for another movie version of the story? None.

However, there is a new Sci-fi miniseries in the works (well, probably already finished) that will be aired in December 2007 sometime. As near as I can tell, it is a modern retelling of the story. Remember all the crazy remakes of Der Ring des Nibelungen in the 1980s? Where Odin and the Aesir all rode motercycles and biker outfits? Not like that, but something like that. More grungy, less happy. Darker. Not something for the kids this time. No people in actual scarecrow costumes or tin suits. Nobody dressed up like a lion. Somehow it all revolves around the tin man (apparently). Nobody knows how or why.

Anyway, the main important point here is that Zooey Deschanel (Elf,The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) stars as Dorothy Gale (aka, DG. Seriously? Seriously.) This little known actress is spectacular, consistently outperforming her roles. Plus she can sing. Now, I don’t know if they are going to have singing in this remake (I almost think not…), but nonetheless, its an obviously important factor :).

So, if you like Zooey, or The Wizard of Oz, I would recommend looking for this miniseries in December. I think it should be fairly good. However, nobody really trusts my taste in movies like they should, so you will probably all ignore me. Your loss!

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Tea Time!

Posted by me on Monday, the 3rd day of September, anno domini 2007 at 10:36 PM, local time.

When I was little, I hated tea. Absolutely hated the stuff. Looking back, I think it was because the first tea I tried was iced tea, which I still hate, and then some black tea that my mother drank often. It was too bitter for me, so I gave it up.

Much, much later, when I went to China, some of my friends made me go to the Tea House of the Bridge of the Nine Turns (I’m not quite sure how the turns add up to nine, either):

Anyway, it was very touristy, but fun. If you are ever in Shanghai, I would recommend it. Its in the Old Quarter (read: Tourist Trap), right next to the YuYuan Gardens. They had some nice flower blossom teas, where the flower blooms before your eyes inside the glass teapot. I’ve been looking for those teas ever since. (I think I finally found where I can buy them: Target)

Later, when I got back state-side (always wanted to say that…), I tried some Jasmine green teas and found them to my liking as well. Since then, I’ve tried many green teas and like most of them. Plain green tea, Jasmine tea, Chamomile tea, etc. Also, I found some Bavarian Black tea that is quite good as well. Recently, I bought a box of black tea, and discovered, once again, that black tea is quite bitter, and needs sugar at the very least. Then its OK. Up in Houghton, on a recent trip, we went to a tea house on main street, and had a lovely afternoon tea. With Lemon Curd! I do like Lemon Curd…

Anyway, tea is good. I do try to have afternoon tea on the weekends when I can (a good excuse to have slices of French baguette with Lemon Curd or jam or something).

So, that’s all I have to say about tea.

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Mistborn 2! Out at last!

Posted by me on Monday, the 27th day of August, anno domini 2007 at 12:19 AM, local time.

Just a brief update: Last week sometime, Mistborn 2: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson came out. I didn’t get around to buying it under Thursday, since the week was rather busy, but I got it finally late last week, spent way too much time reading it that night, and then finished it up Friday after work. It was very good! I was very happy with how it went. For a while as it went along, I was quite afraid the author was going to spite me by having things turn out differently than I hoped for, or at the very least waiting until the final book to resolve things to my satisfaction. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author did not take that simple way out as a cliffhanger or something like that. By the end of the book, most of the plot lines were tied up nicely, and while there is certainly one plot thread (the main danger to the kingdom really) that is still open and needs resolution, all the minor sideline threads are finished up quite nicely.

The first book was much the same. Pretty much all the main internal conflict was resolved and there was just the one problem left for the next books. Now, I just have to wait one year (the guy is already finished with the book, I think, or close to it) for the final exciting chapter! In the meantime, I think most of my readers would probably enjoy the Mistborn books, if you haven’t already read them.

As an aside, I often find, after ready a great long book, that I suddenly feel like I need to find another book to read right away that will engage my interest as fully and enjoyably as the book I just finished. This might be part of the reason that over the years I have read so many books, one after the other. It is only when I get to a book that I don’t enjoy as much, start to get bogged down, and slow way way down in my pace, sometimes where the book sits on my nightstand for weeks or months without being touched, that I stop for a couple months from reading books so quickly. This is rather sad, but I guess its ok, since I do have a lot of other hobbies that I like to do, and sometimes I think I might read too much anyway. :-)

Luckily, with this book, I have no such problem. No offense to the choosers of books, but lately it has been Book Club books that have given me the most trouble. I really should finish that last one… It’s not very long anyway, and surely at some point here Andy will schedule book club. (*hint* *hint*)

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Losing a song in the sea of opera

Posted by me on Friday, the 17th day of August, anno domini 2007 at 12:02 AM, local time.

I listen to a lot of opera. It’s great stuff. Lots of very memorable songs and overtures, arias, etc. But sometimes, I think I listen to too much opera without concentrating on it. Later, I will find a particular tune is in my head and I know its from an opera, but can’t for the life of me remember what it is. I replay a bunch of the operas I listen to frequently over and over, hoping to happen across the familiar song, all to no avail. A year goes by. More. I begin to fear the worst: I will never hear the song again, except in my head, imperfectly reproduced by my horrible memory.

Then, by chance, one day your friend Jim starts humming a tune, then says , “Isn’t that a great piece from that opera we just saw?”

“What?” I say.

“Yeah, don’t you remember, when Cherubino sings his declaration of love for all women to the countess and hilarious hi-jinks ensue?”

“What?” I say.

Then he brings out Pam’s sheet music for “Le nozze di Figaro”, pages to Act II, scene II, and points out the notes, humming as he goes. “See?”

“Damn it Jim.”

Seriously. Good thing we went to see that opera (which I have to review on my blog yet… how long ago was that?). Otherwise, I may never have found that song again. Even though I have a nice recording of Figaro, and listen to it from time to time (more so since going to see the thing, but that’s a different story).

Anyway, lots of opera, lots of good songs. A pity I can’t remember where they all come from!

*Note: I’ve paraphrased Jim’s actual words. Mostly because I can’t remember what exactly was said, but also because it’s slightly funnier this way. Sorry Jim. Thanks though!

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Planarity: a great time waster

Posted by me on Thursday, the 16th day of August, anno domini 2007 at 11:48 PM, local time.

So, a friend at work forwarded me a link to this website with a simple flash-based game on it. All you have to do is move nodes around to show that the given graph is planar. Simple at first, then there are 200 nodes and not enough room to see anything at all… I would say that levels in the 7-10 range are the best. Actually challenging, but still doable.

It’s worth taking a look at anyway, especially if you are bored and have nothing else more productive to do for a while.

But, it’s not my fault if you get stuck on that website for an hour. I warned you.

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Downtown Rochester

Posted by me on Tuesday, the 31st day of July, anno domini 2007 at 11:48 PM, local time.

So I was downtown this past weekend, at the bookstore (as usual), and noticed a few things.

Downtown Rochester was actually pretty busy! It was in the early evening on a Saturday, so probably lots of people going to restaurants or whatever. But there were tons of people walking around downtown, eating on the sidewalks, siting on the benches talking, looking at books in Barnes and Nobles. It was nice.

I also went by the old Extraordinary Bookseller shop to see if they had changed their hours or whatnot. Nope, still like 11am-6pm weekdays only or something like that. A couple months ago, we all noticed that they had downsized drastically, and a nail salon or something took up most of their space on 1st Avenue. I think they still have a little nook there yet, but I haven’t been in there since they shrunk. However! I saw a sign that said what actually happened was that they were moving! So, my main worry of what had happened to all the great old books they had that could not possibly have fit into what was left of the store is now laid to rest! I tracked down where they said they moved to, and walked 3 blocks to get there. Apparently they are now located in the lower floor (we’re talking basement level here) of the old Barrister Hall on 1st St N. They were closed when I was there (it was Saturday evening after all), but there was a rudimentary sign on the window that indicated they really were there now. I’ll have to go check them out sometime in their new location. Maybe they have the whole basement of that place and they can fit even more bookshelves and books! Wouldn’t that be exciting! Probably the rent is a lot cheaper as well. It can’t have been cheap on what has pretty much become the new main street of downtown Rochester (1st Ave W). So that is good news I think.

Also, Kristen’s Knits is now open again. They relocated further down 2nd St S from their old location, but now they are in a huge old Victorian house, with ample parking (always a problem at the old place). I think their hours are longer now, also. Weekdays 10am-6pm, Thursdays open till 8pm, and Saturday 10am to 3pm. Apparently they are in the old Restless Leg Syndrome House. Where will I go if I get Restless Leg Syndrome? No where, apparently. One nice thing is that its closer to downtown proper now, actually walkable, I think. Also, its right across from Just Rite Foods, so that’s kinda cool, too.

One other thing I noticed around Rochester lately: all the strip malls are getting renovated. They all did look pretty bad, so I guess they needed it. I think some of them will look pretty nice once it’s all done. I wonder if it will help them get more businesses to flesh out the vacant premises. I hope so, I guess. More little shops is always good, I think.

That’s pretty much it. Though I must say the 1st St promenade demolition looks pretty much finished and now they are repaving things for walkways and planters and benches and whatnot. It might actually be usable by winter! That would be kind of amazing actually. We shall see. Also, since it will connect Peace Plaza with Annenberg Plaza, there should be quite a nice area there that is walking only with hopefully lots of nice art and nice stuff to do.

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Harry Potter, with a few days to think about it

Posted by me on Wednesday, the 25th day of July, anno domini 2007 at 12:18 AM, local time.

So, I told myself I would blog today, since I’ve been rather bad about it lately. And so here I am.

Harry Potter. That’s all one seems to hear about these days. That’s fine. I’ll contribute :) Warning: If you havn’t read the last book yet, and you plan to do so anytime soon, please proceed with caution. Things may be revealed below that you would rather discover through your own reading of the book. But seriously folks, you’ve had like 3 or 4 days already. Plenty of time to finish it!

Moving right along, halfway through chapter one of the last book, I almost stopped reading to blog/complain about how disappointed I was in some of Harry’s actions and thoughts, but I figured it would be better to finish the book and present my reactions fully tempered by time and results.

After finishing the book, I still can’t say that I am completely happy with all the choices Harry made, and I still think he is too hot-headed and doesn’t think things through enough to fully garner my respect. And the movie that just came out (The Order of the Pheonix) portrayed Harry at that stage in a very similar light, where at some points I almost hated what Harry had become. Now, I grant that he was quasi-possessed by Voldemort, but still. Your friends are there to support you and help you through these difficult times. You don’t turn your back on them when they offer to help! In the book, I don’t think I was as angry with him at the time (during book 5, this is), but in the movie they had to cut stuff and tweak things and what resulted is a slightly different piece.

Anyway, enough about Harry’s childishness. The other thing I can say after finishing the last book is that in no way was I displeased with how things turned out. Going into book 7 the way things were, I could not have asked for a better outcome, really. Given the constraints of how I knew Ms Rowling was going to have things go in terms of Ron and Hermione (seriously, Ron? Ron is a dufus for six and a half books, then becomes a jackass, and then some great leader. I don’t buy it. He still isn’t good enough for Hermione.).

Though, I must say that when Ginny was first introduced in book 2 or 3 or whatever, I wasn’t very impressed with her either. She seemed, at the time, a very week character with no interesting qualities who hero worshiped Harry to the point of embarrassment. But, by the time we got the book 5 and 6, I was completely happy with how she had developed, and her strength of character was very encouraging. Despite Harry’s faults, he is still the hero of the series and does deserve to live happily ever after at the end, and since Ms Rowling deemed fit to occupy Hermione with lesser interests, Ginny is certainly someone who could be lived happily ever after with.

A few more items here in short:

Snape. Best possibly way that all could have been worked out. Very predictable, but altogether good. I’m glad they didn’t spend 7 books making us hate his actions but learn surprisingly good things about him for no reason whatsoever.

Malfoy. In the end, I didn’t need him to live, but it did allow a few more things to play by doing so. I’m ok with it.

Fred. Eh, there were already two of them. How many jokesters do you really need in a fictional universe? His death served a purpose and throughout the story, while he and George were humorous, I never really got attached.

Kreacher and Dobby. Good show. The redemption of Kreacher made the death of Dobby kind of balanced. Maybe? I know a lot of people were torn up when Dobby died. That’s fine, that’s fine. It was a noble sacrifice. I can’t claim that eye moisture didn’t increase at that point. But people do die in wars. House elves included.

Dumbledore. This goes back a bit to Harry’s irrationality at times. Seriously, nobody is perfect. And imperfect people in the spot light can get misrepresented by the malicious media. It happens. Harry should have been more open minded in the beginning, allowing both for imperfect friends and for malicious journalists. But anyway, I am glad that Dumbledore got the chance to explain himself a bit to Harry. That was nice, if only for Harry’s peace of mind.

Neville. Yeah Neville! I only hope that he and Luna got together and had some very interesting children. Ms Rowling didn’t deem fit to tell us about anything on the Neville-Luna front, and that surprised me, seeing how pat she laid everything else out. I’ll just have to assume, I guess.

The Nineteen Years Later Bit. I liked it. I was quite glad she put it in there actually. I know, I know, maybe now its harder for her to write more books in the series, but really, its not. There is a large gap that can be filled in there, and seriously. Its not like they die after 19 years. More stories can be told afterwards as well! Some might even be really good if they skipped another 10 years and told some stories from the adult point of view of Harry and Ginny’s and Ron and Hermione’s (and Neville and Luna’s !) kids. But I digress. Anyway, I was happy that I didn’t just have to wonder and hope that the right people got together, or that they got to have children, or that they were trying to raise their children properly in a post-Voldemort world, or that Hogwarts was still up and running and producing well-rounded and well-respected young wizards and witches.

Wow. I keep meaning to stop and say that anyone wanting to discuss more is free to bring it up. So, here I will stop and say that anyone wanting to discuss more is free to bring it up.

I was just saying the other day that I think that even with no more stories in the series, and nothing else whatsoever to talk about, people could discuss this universe and the people in it for probably the rest of their lives. Discussion of motives, actions and reactions, logistics, really cool objects (seriously, I am a very hetero guy over here, who never once has considered carrying a purse or handbag or merse or what-have-you, but when I was reading about Hermione’s magic bag that occupied essentially no room but could expand as big as needed to fit whatever you wanted into it… woah. I’ll take two please. And Hermione’s choice to fill it with books was pretty much exactly what I would do, I gotta admit.), etc, etc, can continue for a long time. People are still discussing The Lord of the Rings, for crying out loud, and that’s only 3 books (or so… plus prelude, histories, legends, notes, letters, etc., etc.).

Anyway, as an emergency session of book club was called for later this week specifically to discuss the completed Harry Potter series, I should leave some of that near-infinite well of discussion topics for that time!

Good night!

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Rollerblading, Berries, Music, and Country Traditions

Posted by me on Sunday, the 1st day of July, anno domini 2007 at 4:02 PM, local time.

Today I went out rollerblading on the Douglas trails, hoping to spot some blackcaps. I ended up going all the way to Douglas and back (around 11 miles round trip), and found lots of great blackcaps. I filled up half a nalgene bottle or so of them. I would have been able to get more, if I had proper bramble attire (jeans and boots… not shorts and rollerblades!). I may have also gotten more if I hadn’t noticed someone ahead of me picking all the bushes clean. Geez. These were clearly my bushes. The best spots right now along the trail seem to be between the 3 and 5 mile markers on the way to Douglas. There were a lot of other bushes closer to home too, but I left those for later. They will probably be pickable throughout the next week or so. Now I just have to think of things to use them for (ha! that won’t be much of a problem!). On my cereal is a must, berries and creme is always good, ice cream can be enjoyable topped with blackcaps, and I have a couple creme brulee recipes for berries that should be pretty good, too.

So, all those blackcaps, free for the picking. Yesterday, at the farmer’s market, I saw some for five dollars. I buckled. I just love berries so much! Those Amish though, always trying to make a quick buck off people, when they could just go pick the berries themselves. Seriously… I also missed out on an early raspberry opportunity yesterday, as Andy was mentioning that they had gone to the market earlier that morning and bought some of the last of the early raspberries! :-( But, more of those will be coming soon I’m sure. Strawberries are mostly done, too. Last week I got a nice big container of those and they were just spectacular.

While rollerblading, I was listening to some music on my phone music player thingy. Have I mentioned I like piano music in the background? :-) Some of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, and then Handel’s Messiah. As always, they made me happy to hear. I don’t quite understand why some people thing classical music is boring, or puts you to sleep or something. It can be very exciting! Directing along, and singing along, can also be fun. Luckily Messiah is in English, but some other operas are harder to sing along to, and usually I just make up words that sound similar. How horrible is that! But, no one else along the trail can hear what I am hearing, and usually I quiet down when I am passing people. Heh. They might get a little frightened if they had to listen to me for long.

Speaking of things that other people might find a bit odd as they pass me while on the trails, I think I freaked out a few people today, since as they passed by, I nodded to them. To me, its just a reflex. You pass somebody, you nod. It’s what you do. It would be rude not to. People here either don’t get it, or just like to ignore me. There were people who got really confused looks on their faces, and some people said “Hi” (but thats too much effort, they really should have just nodded). Only a few old geezers nodded properly. I suppose when they were young, this area was all country, too, so they knew all the appropriate country responses.

Well, back to my ice cream.

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Sorry, more xkcd

Posted by me on Thursday, the 21st day of June, anno domini 2007 at 11:46 PM, local time.

Sorry guys, I’m sure lots of people are getting bored with my xkcd rants. I was getting kind of afraid these past few weeks that he had lost the touch. If you go back in the archive, centered a month or so ago, they were just hilarious. Each and every one of them. Ever since the “Choices” dailies, its been rather dry and uninteresting.

However, there is some hope for the future, I think: today’s comic. It’s not quite up to 100%, but he could be in the 85-90% range of what we know he is capable of. Things may be looking up!

Sorry again for this. And I wasn’t going to blog again tonight after my longer post about the book I am reading (I would like to get back to reading that sometime tonight yet…), but I just had to say something here. I try to bring hope to the masses.

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