altivo: (rocking horse)
Red-headed woodpeckers again, during breakfast this time. Almost certainly saw three different individual birds, two of them simultaneously. This is highly unusual. In a typical year we have perhaps two sightings of one bird and that's it.

Firewall box is racked and ready to drop in as a replacement for our current unit. Will have to go in on Sunday to test, though. Generation -1, a Firebox X Core, has been removed from the rack and repacked with its spare cables and paperwork. No longer supported and not usable at work, but still functional so I may take it home rather than recycle it. The problem is getting a copy of the appropriate configuration and monitoring software, Watchguard System Manager 8.3.x. I know the necessary file is on several retired backup tapes I still have, but so far I can't figure out how to recover files from a no longer cataloged backup. I really hate Symantec software, ya know? It makes things so unnecessarily difficult. If the replacement is successful, the current X750 Edge unit will remain in the rack as an emergency backup. This time I'll remember to archive the management tools to a CD instead of leaving them on a proprietary format tape.

Book arrived in the mail: Pegasus by Robin McKinley. I've already read it in ebook form, but liked it so much I decided to snatch a remaindered hardcover for future reuse. The book is remarkably well done, in my opinion (and I don't always care for McKinley.) The pegasi are particularly well thought out. Unfortunately it appears to be only volume 1 of a trilogy, the other two of which may not appear for a year or two. And it has a cliff-hanger ending. Grr.

Went after work to listen to Kishwaukee Ramblers playing at the Woodstock Mall, a converted building with really nice acoustics for a small group. They sounded particularly good. After that took Gary to dinner to celebrate payday plus income tax refund. Then we came home and watched Hop, a silly fluffy movie about E.B., a young bunny who is heir to the title of THE Easter bunny, but doesn't want to accept his destiny. Instead he wants to be a rock and roll drummer. It was silly fluff, but still fun and required no hard thinking. ;p
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
Spent a large chunk of the day configuring a new firewall box, since Watchguard dropped support for the one we have been using (only 3 years old.) This wouldn't be so bad if they made it easier to move your setup from one box to another, but... they don't. Which forced me to go through the entire configuration bit by bit, and that's not entirely bad since I decided that about half of it was pointless. Left that half out. We shall see what happens when I test it. Testing has to happen when the library is closed, since it will knock out the internet connection completely a couple of times. That means going in to work on Sunday probably. Ugh.

Because we've suddenly been seized with the idea of performing railroad songs for a picnic at the railroad museum in June, I dug in the music closet (yes, we have a music closet) and retrieved one of my guitars. Which hasn't been played for quite a few years. The strings were hopeless, of course, but there was another set in the case so I changed them out.

While we were watching The Muppets (latest Muppet film) borrowed from the library. Our conclusion: not the best one they ever did, but fun anyway. Or at least funny. Oh Jim Henson how we miss you.

Gary made an Indian dish from cauliflower and potatoes for dinner. It was good, actually, though I think he took the instructions a bit too literally on the serrano peppers. Not into the pain spectrum, but certainly rates a HOT! or so. The rice and chutney work to balance it out in the end. Hopefully it won't come back to haunt my dreams in a little while.

Guitar will need a day or so to settle in pitch so it will hold a tuning, so I haven't found out yet how much I remember about playing it. Not that I was any kind of master, but I used to be tolerable. Keyboards are more my forte (pun intended) or even wind instruments, but keyboards just aren't portable enough for most things outdoors. We shall see.
altivo: Gingerbread horse cookie (gingerhorse)
Accomplished? Nothing big. I made dinner. We watched the first half of Going Postal which does seem to be a brilliant interpretation of Pratchett's book for the screen. It's a British production, so they don't feel a need to dumb down or alter the plot the way Hollywood would have done. Nor are they afraid to take the time necessary to tell the whole story. The whole film runs over three hours, which would be nearly unthinkable to any Hollywood producer or director.

I managed (I think) to get essential tasks properly distributed at work so things won't pile up too badly. Now to take care of the essential outside tasks I still have to do. Spinning guild newsletter must be done tomorrow. Model railroad modules must be done in the next couple of days too.

Oh, we did finish one other task: income tax forms completed, ready to mail tomorrow. As usual, I get a nice refund from the federal government, but have to pay a small amount to the state.

Amazon packages with airbrush parts arrived on schedule today. Another is due tomorrow with a rural windmill at N scale to go into one of the railroad modules.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Warm and sunny again. Of course, now it's April, and we are supposed to expect rain tomorrow.

Took time out this evening to watch The Adventures of TinTin since it crossed my desk at work and I could nab it. Spielberg and Jackson did a good job together, I'd say. The CGI dog (Milou in the original, though they changed the name to "Snowy" for some reason) was spectacular and the other characters well played. They caught the feel and excitement as well as the period of the original. The parallels to Indiana Jones were noteworthy.

We have the first watermelon of the season. A tiny one, and you can tell it was picked early, but still it counts.

You may remember the redbud tree I posted last spring when it finally bloomed after I'd been nursing it along for ten years. It's about to bloom again. Most of the others in the area have been in full blossom for over a week now, but this one just has buds that haven't yet opened. Still, the buds are obvious and should open soon. And as I promised last year, I picked one bud and tasted it. There's a delicate fruity aroma/flavor to it, rather like pear or quince. Not sweet, though it might be by the time the flowers open. Probably rich in vitamin C unless I miss my guess, which might explain why 19th century settlers considered it a useful thing to eat. You could put it in a salad, anyway.

When the flowers open I'll try to photograph it again.

Three more workdays (two and a half, actually) and then vacation.

Phantasme!

Feb. 19th, 2012 11:25 pm
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Just watched the 25th anniversary production of Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera at the Albert Hall. It's fantastic, a tremendous job. Don't pass up a chance to see the DVD if you can, and even if you've already seen the older movie production.

The original 1909 book by Gaston Leroux was a sort of nine day wonder and I don't think the author ever produced anything else with anywhere near the success. It was made into silent film, stage play, several movie versions, and at least two musicals. The silent film and the 1943 movie are well worth seeing, and, frankly, I think the original book is the best since all the other versions have to leave out a great amount of detail. But if you can only see one, this latest recording contains both the best musical renditions and one of the most effective adaptations I have experienced.

Weather here is chilly, and clear, though we are supposed to move into clouds and snow later tomorrow. Winter hasn't quite given up yet, but with temperatures well above freezing in the daytime, the snow can't hang around for long.

The end

Jan. 2nd, 2012 10:25 pm
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Of the holidays, anyway. Back to work for me in the morning.

Poking around in a cabinet that has been inaccessible for a couple of years or longer due to a table we had set in front of it, I found a lot of classic films on VHS. It was difficult deciding which one to revisit, but we chose Walt Disney's Fantasia, the original one from the late 1930s. Still as good as ever. Most everyone who's seen it (or who watched Disney's television programs in the 50s and 60s) has seen Mickey Mouse as the Sorceror's Apprentice, but the scenes I always loved were the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony with the classical mythology and the finale of Night on Bald Mountain that fades into Ave Maria at dawn. Noticed something I had never recognized before, too. The Ave Maria sequence features hundreds of tiny figures carrying lanterns or candles that are reflected in the water. In the finale of Conan the Barbarian (the 1982 version with Arnold Schwarzenegger, not the recent remake) this imagery is echoed almost completely after the death of Thulse Doom, as his followers walk past a reflecting pool in front of the temple and drop their torches into the water.

The controversy over edits to the classical myth scenes (removing a black centaur) and the evolution sequence (deleting a brief moment where a fish crawls out onto the land) appear to still be raging online.

Cold here tonight, woodstove cracklng, gonna sleep well I hope.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Tonight we watched the DVD of Bitter Lake, the furry/fursuit movie that was released at EF this summer. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but overall I have to say it is well done. I'm sure the production had a tight budget and very limited shooting schedule, but on the whole it is professional and easy to watch. Some glitches in the fight scenes and a few lines delivered a bit too unrealistically can be forgiven in the context.

The story is almost Shakespeare-like in subject and character, if not in language. It's a tragedy that could have been developed a bit more given time, but the concept is whole and effective. Well worth seeing if you haven't yet done so. And if you see it on DVD, don't skip the "Behind the Scenes" selection.

I won't deliver any spoilers beyond saying that the furry nature of the characters didn't seem to stand for a lot. The story might as well have been told with humans in the same sort of medieval setting. This doesn't detract from the eye candy of the sets and backdrops or the fursuits themselves, however. Rating: three and a half apples. Higher on production values, lower on writing.

A typical Monday otherwise. Too long, too dull, and too much of a letdown from the weekend.

Gary has spotted a cat on the shelter website that just possibly might be our "disappeared" Rickitoo. He plans to run over tomorrow and see if he can find out. How the cat got picked up 20 miles from here is hard to fathom, though he was excessively friendly and bold and had in the past jumped right into people's cars. If he did that at some neighbor's place he might have gotten a free ride.

So...

Sep. 21st, 2011 10:10 pm
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
After nine years, my Netflix account is no more. I'm tired of being insulted and treated like a non-entity. It was curious that even after I confirmed the cancellation, they asked me to answer questions about why I was quitting and what I would use to replace Netflix, and their multiple choice answers didn't include suitable choices. Not even "Other" or "Non-specified." Reasons for quitting didn't include "Brainless management that refuses to listen to customers." Where I would get DVDs without Netflix didn't include an option for "the public library" which seems like an obvious possibility to me. Reasons for not using streaming downloads didn't include "No connection of sufficient bandwidth available in my area" which is in fact still the case in about 40% of the US. Shows us how ignorant of possibilities and facts Netflix management really is, I think. I'm going to consider greencine.com as a replacement, in fact, but they weren't listed as an option either.

Gasoline prices at two of Harvard's overpriced stations have dropped three times this week. The most recent change happened between 5 and 8 pm tonight.

Too much going on this week. Hay delivery put off three times, is now supposed to happen tomorrow morning. Heating technician is supposed to come in the morning too because our heat pump system is once more refusing to operate. Turn in of items for the spinning and weaving show in October also takes place tomorrow. Thank goodness it's only a half day of work.

Strangeness

Aug. 4th, 2011 10:58 pm
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Went to the local county fair today. It keeps shrinking. The yuppies who run it clearly don't understand the concepts and are doing their best to kill the whole thing off. Barn spaces standing empty, The only thing increasing is the booths full of political kooks and medical quacks.

I also hit 1000 in an odd place: My 1000th post on the FurRag writer's forum. I never thought I'd end up the chattiest participant there.

Mosquitoes were nearly extinct here 10 days ago. Now with the heavy rain we suddenly got, they're back and very hungry. Swarms of them. I took Tess out to the pasture late this afternoon, and after two hours she was begging to go back in. As soon as she saw me she came galloping, and not out of any affection for me, I'm sure. More like "Get me out of here before they carry me away!" Fortunately, these aren't the really big B52 biters but rather the tiny whiner kind but there are so many it's quite unbelievable.

We watched High Society this evening. Released in 1956, it was Grace Kelly's last film before she became Princess Grace. Ironically, it had a scene where she was driving a sports car recklessly. (In 1982 she died in a car crash.) The reason it was on our list, though, was for Cole Porter's music. He wrote so many hit musicals, but hardly any of them ever made it to film. This one was actually a remake of The Philadelphia Story rather than an actual stage musical, and Porter wrote the songs for it. First time Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra appeared in a film together, too, I think.

OK, work tomorrow still, so off to bed.

Hot stuff

Jul. 17th, 2011 10:14 pm
altivo: Centaur image (centaur)
The weather anyway. Too hot. And no relief in sight for a week, sounds like. Glad the power outage is behind us, and I sure hope it doesn't return.

Too flattened by the heat, we didn't do much this evening except to revisit The Emperor's New Groove, which we hadn't seen for quite a few years. I still think it's one of Disney's better efforts, probably because the story is original and not mangled from some classic. And the music is quite well done, too. Hadn't thought of it as furry before, but it does have a transformation (or two.) Talking llamas? Talking squirrels? Hmmm. OK, so it is furry, sorta.

Monday again already? How can that be? Ugh. Guess I'd better get some sleep if I can.

Ladyhawke

Jun. 28th, 2011 10:36 pm
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Miktar's Altivo)
Well, after our discussion here about Wargames and Matthew Broderick, I had to see Ladyhawke again. I think Broderick did much better in this film, actually showing us a character with some development. The horse was still the scene stealer in my opinion, though I'd forgotten the great black wolf.

Since Philippe was bitten or scratched by the werewolf while rescuing him from the ice, shouldn't there have been a sequel about Philippe the werewolf?

Beautiful weather today and yesterday afternoon. Such a contrast from yesterday morning when I stood outside the vet's trying to shelter Simon from the rain as we waited for the stretcher crew. You see, I can almost talk about it now. But it hasn't stopped hurting really, and I guess it never will.

Red seems a bit puzzled by the empty places in the house, but they never had much of a rapport. Simon was too old and slow for him even when he arrived last fall.
altivo: Blinking Altivo (altivo blink)
Gary's birthday. I got him a new camera and some audiobooks, we went out for lunch and stopped in two pet stores to get some small aquarium stuff we needed.

This evening we watched Wargames, one of the films we saw together when we were first dating. I wanted to see it again because someone had insisted there was a Radio Shack computer in it. There wasn't. Many of the special effect computer activities were controlled by an Apple II, though. The home computer that the main character used to break into NORAD was an IMSAI CP/M system, S-100 bus, very expensive at the time but his family did seem to have money. Amusingly, the program he used to dial phone numbers in sequence to find the ones with computer modems on them did exist. I saw something very much like it back in that time period. ;p

So, bedtime. Oh, and no rain today, though they kept telling us it was imminent.
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
Was a good day in spite of the gloomy skies. It didn't actually rain, but was a bit cool and we could have used a little more breeze to blow away the mosquitoes. Otherwise, I think everyone had a great time at the Illinois Railway Museum today, and thanks to [personal profile] casey382 for organizing it. We even did get around to riding a couple of trains. I particularly enjoyed visiting the railroad post office car and talking briefly with the old timers who actually worked in the mail service on the roads back in the 1960s.

Watched The Voyage of the Dawn Treader tonight and while some of the scenery and costumes were worthwhile as usual I found it disappointing that they felt they had to alter the story for no particular reason except to insert a lot of extra violence and muddy the original plot line. I give it no more than three out of five possible apples.

Snow?!

Apr. 16th, 2011 11:00 pm
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Admittedly, I've seen snow in May. It was in Michigan, a long time ago. But this afternoon it snowed here, hard enough to obscure visibility and with the wind blowing it sideways. temperature was about 35F at the time, so it melted as soon as it touched anything solid, but it certainly was snow.

This evening we watched Kiss Me Kate the 1952 film based on Cole Porter's Broadway musical. I like Cole Porter best of all the musical composers. His stories are funny and always multilayered, with a self-conscious sense of the absurd. Particularly good in this one is the song and dance number by the two mobsters, "Brush up your Shakespeare." (Keenan Wynne and James Whitmore)

I almost forgot it was Saturday, when I have to wind clocks. That's what happens when you don't have work to make you keep track of the days of the week. Could have done many useful things today, but instead I read books and played with computers. Shame on me.
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
...pointless. Just sat through Tron: Legacy. Utter waste of two hours. Whoever wrote that tripe didn't get the original at all. My assessment is that the whole thing was written by a twelve year old to impress other twelve year olds.

Spring happened today all at once. Daffodils opening, blue (if hazy) skies, birds so loud they were deafening. Doing barn chores in shirtsleeves, got a little sunburn even. Went to guild meeting this morning, weaseled out of doing a presentation next month that I was volunteered for in my absence. We will substitute a drop spindle race, which was quite a popular event last time we tried it.

Now to plan out the next few days so I can get as much done as possible while I have the time in daylight hours to do it.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
And it's not even Wednesday.... yet....

Still sneezing. But mostly (I think) improving.

We saw Tangled tonight. Kinda edgy and almost Japanese and I really don't care that much for CGI but as predicted, I really did like Maximus. The rest of it, well... *shrugs*

Quotes from an outside IT provider appeared this morning. New boss is big on comparing bids. This went way beyond what I think is necessary or appropriate, and wanted to replace everything in sight, including the firewall, primary server, backup systems, and a lot of software. Dell's Lenovo line quoted on everything (I'm not that impressed) and a lack of understanding of non-profit library requirements as compared to some small business environment. They aren't the same. Even the boss admitted that she could see that. It would be a heavy pull back in the direction of the Windows mainstream and I told her it's the opposite of the direction I would go, but if someone else is going to be responsible for it I don't care. As long as they don't try to force me to use Windows on my own workstation they can do whatever they want. And they can deal with the complaints, lockups, failures, and glitches, because I won't.

The deadline for the PEEP diorama contest draws near. We must have a couple of dozen entries now. Most are pretty ordinary, I'm sorry to say, though a couple are at least clever. One is Winnie-the-Pooh, with a Peep dangling from a balloon trying to rob the bee tree. An excessive number of them are bible stories, which I find disappointing. These kids are being deprived of the richness of literature if all they are allowed to read is the bible. (Yes, we have that here.)

I really do need some more time off. Really.
altivo: My mare Contessa (nosy tess)
OK, we finally saw Avatar last night. It was OK, but no more than that. Of course most of you know that I'm not a movie fan anyway, and it takes a very precise sort of thing to actually excite me. This film was not it. In its favor: It does not suffer from the "need" to have an explosion or gunfire take place at least once every five minutes, like so many popular films today. (I walked out on Firefly for that reason. I have no interest in such silliness.) Not in its favor: In the last 40 minutes or so, it makes up for the lack of explosions and gunfire in the rest of the film. Boo. Also, when the credits rolled I recognized the similarity to the 1990 film Dances With Wolves. Almost an identical story line, just set in the American West at the time of the Indian Wars (for those of you who don't remember it.) To be quite honest, I prefer the older film. But in fact, I prefer the book on which the older film was based to the film itself. This is usual for me.

I'm left puzzled as to why so many seemed to think Avatar is a "furry film." I certainly didn't see it. Yes, the Na'vi have tails. No, they aren't furry in my perception, just alien. Sympathetic, perhaps, but alien. Even though the anti-corporate/anti-government/anti-military slant of the film does seem to fit with my opinions on same, and in fact isn't nearly as strong a message on those as I'd like to see become popular, it holds little appeal for me. I had avoided reviews and commentary on the film precisely because I didn't want to see spoilers. Consequently, I had only the vaguest idea of what was coming, and no idea that anyone else had associated the storyline with Dances With Wolves. I was quite amused when I looked it up after seeing it and found that many have made the same association and that James Cameron himself admits that Kevin Costner's 1990 award-winning film was "one of his references" while making Avatar.

Now, reviving last week's topic just briefly: the PI saga is not yet done. I revised my code to gain some efficiencies, and finally figured out how to get FORTRAN on the Alpha to use an internal floating point format 128 bits long (16 bytes, as opposed to half that for normal "double precision" arithmetic.) This improved my precision but slowed the calculation of results. On the Alpha DS10, it took about 5 hours to integrate the curve in ten billion slices. I ran a 100 billion slice version over the weekend, and it took 30 hours to complete after the efficiency tuning was added.

Results were accurate to 15 decimal places, a new high for me. The next step up might take 300 hours to run, though, so I don't know if I'm going to try.

PI to 15 decimal places is: 3.141 592 653 589 793

Oh, and I didn't get the photos from yesterday's cold and gloomy hiking uploaded yet. I will do it, though.
altivo: (rocking horse)
Forget it if you read the book and didn't like it. Forget it if you're prejudiced against the supposed Christian message. Forget it if you never read the book and don't think you like that sort of thing.

If there's an ounce, or even a dram, of furry blood in your veins, you should see The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. No, it doesn't replicate the book faithfully, though it does pretty much stick to the storyline. No, the acting (by human actors anyway) isn't stellar (though I did really like Professor Kirk.) See it for the animals. The beavers, the wolves, the fox, the centaurs, the horses, the gryphons (!) and most of all the lion. Leave your quibbles at the door and just enjoy the pictures and the voices. It's worth every minute for that.

I went in skeptical. I consider this to be the weakest book in the series of seven, and it's my least favorite. The fundamentalist Christian right has been trumpeting the film until I was prepared to be bludgeoned with Christian drivel that isn't even in the book. Well, it didn't do that. Sure, you can give it the Christian reading if you wish, but I could just as easily read the underlying pagan storyline and be perfectly happy with it.

Oh, and don't leave the instant the credits appear. An important but brief scene is spliced into the middle of the credits, and gets missed by many theatre goers who rush for the exit the minute the word "Cast" rolls onto the screen.

Cut for possible spoilers )

You must see the gryphons, the centaurs, and all the rest. Just do it, and leave your prejudices and expectations at the door.

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