The true meaning of rain….

Americans who learn that I’m from England often make some joke about the weather, usually something to do with rain. Now in my 20+ years in the USA I’ve experienced all kinds of rainstorms, including a memorable hailstorm while at a trade show in Atlanta which dumped inches of hail in a matter of minutes and left the streets flooded. Nor’easters, hurricanes, ice storms….
But today in California has left me feeling soggy through and through. The Pacific Ocean has simply dumped on the continental coastline. We’ve had a couple of inches in Carmel Valley, but just north of us a town got 6.5 inches in less than 12 hours. Streams everywhere are flooding; Interstate 5 in Northern California is closed by snow….
So lay off England, please. We will gladly cede top spot in the rainfall rankings to the USA. And remember: those tightly-rolled British umbrellas are just for show.

A bit about me

I’m 53, and a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, where I’ve worked since 1985. You can find a bit about me here. I’m married to Merry and we have two kids, both of whom flew the coop years ago. Chris lives in Seattle; Kate is married to a really nice guy called Mark and they live in Lynn, MA. We live in Brookline, just west of downtown Boston (but fiercely independent!)
When I’m not working or travelling, I’m either curled up in front of my home PC (which faut de mieux runs WinXP, just for the games, you understand), hacking away on my work machine (an Apple PowerBook 12 inch running OS X 10.3.2), playing Soul Calibur II on my PlayStation 2, reading, listening to music, or driving. Recent books include Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right and Clyde Prestowitz’s Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions. Current music includes everything by Porcupine Tree, The Legendary Pink Dots, Al Stewart, October Project, the Art Of Noise, Faithless, The Streets, Pet Shop Boys, Marillion, OSI, Heart, and Underworld. A mixed bag, you’ll say, and you’d be right. As for driving, my regular car is a 1999 Mercury Cougar, but my real love is my 1996 Mazda Miata, best driven with the top down and the wind in my hair….

Shakin' all over

So we’re headed off to Carmel Valley in a couple of days, and this breaks loose. I called ahead: they felt nothing.
I’d like to feel a “safe” earthquake sometime. I’ve been around during a mild one (just enough to set a bowl of water rippling), but I’ve never felt the earth move in a non-metaphorical way….

Why a blog?

I first put up a personal web a few years ago. I authored it in MS FrontPage, developed the navigation, populated it… and then nothing. Or not very much. Maintenance became a chore, the site was cramped (only 8MB), I could only update it from my home PC, which was useless (I spend a lot of my time at work or travelling or both), and the carefully constructed navigation became an inflexible roadblock to doing anything more. Oh, yes: the fact that it was authored in FrontPage meant that the HTML was horribly opaque: I didn’t actually understand the code on my own site.
Then my son Chris put up his blog SomethingUnderstood, and I was entranced by the simplicity of authoring. I tried out blogging at one of the various free blog sites, and found it straightforward but incomplete: I wanted a regular web alongside the blog. However by using a blog for primary content creation (both significant and ephemeral) I could develop the rest of the web using a much simpler structure.
I’m not sure that I’ll really turn this into a diary, like Bruce Sterling’s fun blog. Nor do I intend to use it as a soap-box for political screeds – though in today’s society we must all be political animals if we are not to be sheep. Let’s see how it goes.

On exhausting experiences

This weekend has been dominated by emotionally draining film experiences. First, I saw Lord of the Rings: Return of the King twice, on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. The first time was with my dearest friends with whom I saw the first two LotR films – we call ourselves “The Fellowship of the Fellowship”. The second time was with my 26 year old daughter and her husband, who really, REALLY wanted to see it with me.
Then this evening we found the time to watch the (taped) second part of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. We saw the two plays when they first came to Boston over 10 years ago, and thought they were among the best drama of the entire 20th century. The film is even better.
I refuse to try to compare them. Both are epics – three 210 minute films for Lord of the Rings, two 180 minute episodes for Angels in America. Both deal with huge, vital, essential issues of the meaning of life, of good and evil, of life and death, of what it means to be human, of how we relate to one another. And both are, quite simply, wonderful films. If Angels in America had been shown cinematically, the Oscar committee would have had no option but to award joint honours for Best Picture. But we don’t have to deal with that. Phew!

Seems to be a Movable Type bug here

It looks as if Movable Type doesn’t extend the “Entries” column all the way down, so the various navigation stuff on the right hand side wraps under the entries in a ugly fashion. Presumably once I get enough content into this, the problem will go away. Of course I could always learn CSS and fix it: I’m going to have to do so in order to get a nicer banner and some custom links.