poker!

Jeff and Joe and I played a little poker yesterday. 5$ buy-in, nickel and dime blinds — nothing big. Toward the end I wasn’t doing so well, but then I caught a dumb-luck three twos after going all-in with T2o (badly trying to bluff a weak pot). I was doing better after a little while of heads-up with Joe, and it was starting to get late.

On what would be the last hand of the night, I said something about having caught my “lucking fuckin’ twos” — without which I would have been out of the game. Then I looked down at my cards: pair of twos. Omens don’t come stronger that that.

“All-in,” I said.

“Call,” he said.

Joe turned over a pair of threes. At this point, I lose unless I get a two. Jeff starts dealing the flop, and the very first card is a 2. Gasps all around. Jeff’s hand freezes, not believing I caught another lucky break. He deals the rest of the cards, 5,6 and then a 7. At this point Joe needs a 3 or a 4 to win. Jeff and Joe groan at my improbable luck.

And he gets his lucky fuckin’ 3 on the river. I ended up with 3 bucks out of my 5$ buy-in, so I give Joe his well-earned two dollars.

Hold ’em is a great game. Lots of psychology, lots of drama. We only played for a couple hours, and there were numerous hands with amazing turnarounds and stupendous pots. I have to say, it makes a huge difference when you’re betting real money, even just five bucks. The tendency to just throw money around and then demand more chips from the bank goes away (unless you want to rebuy!). I don’t plan to play for money regularly, I’m not the gambling type. But it’s still a fun game.

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Beating the Heat

Mike MacHenry invited us to his house in Wakefield the other weekend, because his parents have a pool. We did spend time in the pool, but you wouldn’t know it from these photos. We also hung out at a park on what I think was Lake Quannapowitt.

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Serra and Jeff in the other car on the way there

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A bunch of fools on the way to playing frisbee!

at the park, we discovered that Jeff has been keeping a hidden talent from us

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My he’s going awfully high

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uh oh!

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head trauma here we come!

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But he sticks the landing!

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Chillin’ cause it’s damn hot are: Joe, Jeff, Mike, Char, Serra

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Mike and Char are very silly people
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Peter’s b-day

My brother Peter celebrated his 21st birthday with the fam last week, and
I took some pictures. Peter should update his website more often.

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The birthday boy, in a very underexposed photograph. I love the grain actually

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group shot

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The (nuclear) Williams Family

A photo note, I notice that with so many damn pixels available, I’m not afraid of cropping images to make them look better. The one of Peter, for instance, is cropped from a horizontal shot, but the full size image is still 1665×2498 — bigger than my older digicam can do.

hey did you remember vphoto for vertical photos?

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Christmas

Wow, it’s an update actually made within 12 months of the taking of the photos! How can this be? Well, I got a new camera. Specifically, the Olympus e300, which has been fantastic. It’s a little cheaper than the competing products
from nikon and canon, and as a result there are some definite differences in features — its startup time is not quite instant (~2 seconds), the rapid-fire is slower (2.5/second), and there are only 3 configurable focus points, but I don’t care about any of these issues. It has the responsiveness that I was hoping for, the controls are intuitive and smooth, and the pictures look great so far.

The reason I got this is because my old film camera was jacked
in the robbery and I wanted to replace it for my upcoming trip to Japan. I could have gotten another film camera, but film is clearly on the way out and it’s easy to offset the extra cost of digital by not needing to process film

You’ll note that the images are still 1600×1200. The camera actually takes 8 megapixel photos (3337×2502) but those files are too big for the web, so I’m not posting the full size images. If you’re interested in a huge version of something, please email me and ask for it.

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A toast

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Yakking away

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more yakking

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Peter looking spiffy

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Maddy, one of our family friends

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I never get tired of this sight

My uncle Guy bought us this little ufo helicopter object, which I’m fairly sure we haven’t broken yet. It’s very difficult to control, and gentle landings are rare. Usually it hits something, it loses its aerodynamic properties, and it crashes to the ground, amidst much grinding of propeller. A great time was had by all.

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the UFO also seems to turn everyone into zombies

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steve says: wahhhh?

a lot of these photos I barely had to adjust. The white and black levels coming out of the camera are amazing. I can’t wait to take some shots somewhere with some light.

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A grand night out

WELL WELL WELL. It’s been a long-ass time since I last wrote an entry with actual large photos instead of small mobile phone photos. The simple reason for this was that my digital camera batteries
were dead. My rechargable batteries had been dying for a while, so that they lasted not very long at all on
a charge. I decided it was time to pony up and buy some new rechargable batteries. I paid 30 bucks or so and
got a really nice set of 2200mah batteries with new charger. I took them home, charged them up, and dropped
them in my camera.

And nothing happened. The camera didn’t turn on. I have since tried the batteries in other devices, and
they work fine. But for some reason my camera just refuses to acknowledge their existence. I don’t get it at
all. I thought perhaps it had something to do with the voltage of the rechargables, which is 1.2v, whereas
normal AA batteries are 1.5v. But my old rechargable batteries were 1.2 volt too.

So, I had spent a ton of money on batteries that didn’t work, and I still had no batteries for my camera. And
that’s how I’ve left it since December 6th. It’s amazing how frustration over nonfunctional batteries has
kept my nice digital camera in its bag for four months, a third of a year. Eventually I decided I had to get
new batteries, and I picked up some heavy-duty CR-V3 batteries at a local shop. We’ll see how long they last

So last night Char and I hung out with Mike, Char’s friend that she met on an airplane from Chicago; Jesi and Ragnar, two of Mike’s friends; and Marissa, our roommate. Mike, Jesi, Ragnar and I started the night off by playing some bridge (not photographed, except maybe Ragnar has a picture). Ragnar was apparently on the Icelandic national bridge team, so he’s a much better tutor to us than I was to my friends at school. While we were nerding it up, Char and Marissa went to a local bar/club/bowling alley for salsa night. They came back quite quickly, saying it was lame. Apparently the club was overrun with strange guys that weren’t worth picking up, or something.

After a few more hands of bridge, someone got the idea that we should all go back to the club and go bowling.

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Take the lamers bowling, take them bowling.

But let’s not jump ahead! On the way to the bowling alley, we saw the most nerdy graffiti ever.

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WGBH graffiti

WGBH is the local public television station in Boston, if you didn’t know. Why anyone would scrawl
their callsign on a bus seat is a mystery to me, although the other marks may be a clue. I can’t read them.

So we went bowling! Here’s me:

I spent the first 7 frames of the night trying to figure out how to bowl straight, and in the last
two I finally felt like I had figured it out. Unfortunately by then it was too late. Marissa, with her
classic between-the-legs consistancy style, had bowled her way to a close victory over Jesi.

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Mike, Jesi, and Ragnar havin’ fun

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Char gets unwanted affection from Mike

I should mention that bowling was not cheap. There was a ten dollar cover at the door, and it was twenty-five dollars an hour to bowl. So it came out to about 75$ for six people for one hour of bowling. Of
course there was more in the club than just bowling. It was salsa night! Everyone (minus me) danced a bit,
and when it was over, the DJ mentioned that it wasn’t 1:30, it was actually 2:30. Ho ho daylight savings! (Astute readers will note that daylight savings doesn’t really come into effect until 2:00am, but whatever.)
So we left the club, and walked back to the bus stop. We waited for the bus, wondering if the bus was running as if it were 1:45 or 2:45. We waited a while. We were getting bored, and everyone was talking about how they
were’nt tired, and then Ragnar mentioned there was a Japanese restaurant in Chinatown that is open til 3:30 or
later. We got the number thanks to my little phone, and called them up. Thanks to daylight savings, they were
staying open to 4:30 that night. Score!

We did some gymnastics involving my taking a cab home to get a map and the car and packing everyone into my
tiny acura, and then we were off to Ginza in chinatown. I made many amazing maneuvers avoiding potholes and
cutting people off necessarily. We got a great parking space.

And so, we had Sushi in Boston at four in the morning

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Char, me, Mike, Ragnar, Marissa, and Jesi

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Mike always makes faces

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Beware if you are playing bridge with this man

I also took some stupid movies with my camera. They are about 4 megs each, and use some form of quicktime.
They work on linux (Fedora is what I have), so if they don’t work for you you have no excuse.

We had an awesome time, and even though it was expensive and I didn’t get to bed until around six it was
totally worth it. I have photos around my room of my old group of friends, like Nick and Grant and Alex and
Meaghan, and I was looking at them the other day wistfully. I don’t know if we’ll ever be all together like
that again. Probably not. That group had its moment, and its unlikely it will ever be reformed. I look at the group photo I took last night, and I see that although my friends from college have
spread out, I have a new group of buddies to play bridge with and eat sushi with — at least for now. College students will graduate, people will move on, but at least right now I have mike and jesi and ragnar and marissa. Thanks guys.

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Structured Procrastination

This article seems to describe some of my behavior pretty well:

… the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

As in, I wrote Bloggo as a way of avoiding doing a project for work. The work did get done, late, but I also had this other great accomplishment.

The author, John Perry, points out a flaw of this philosophy:

At this point you may be asking, “How about the important tasks at the top of the list, that one never does?” Admittedly, there is a potential problem here.

Perry’s solution of making sure that the “most important” tasks are the ones that are the least dependant on deadlines is somewhat of a cop-out.

My solution is to constantly rearrange the list of tasks, so the thing I was avoiding doing yesterday becomes the thing I do to ignore something new. For instance, I avoid paying the bills until a week or two before they are due, but as the deadlines get close, I decide to do the bills as a way of avoiding doing the dishes. Logically, the bills are more important because they involve money and theoretical large men breaking your legs. Instead, I think of the bills as an easy task involving a pen and paper, rather than getting my hands wet and soapy and aggrivating my eczema. This process of justifying reordering the list is crucial to convincing yourself that you’re putting things off, but once you cross that hurdle you’re on your way to lazy productivity!

Thanks Jordi Mallach

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Grab bag for August

That’s right, another grab bag!

First up, my mother wanted me to photograph the dinghies at the local dock on Cape Cod. None of them are great, but here’s the best of the lot.

The whole family went up to visit Laurel in Vermont last weekend. Not content with three birds, two cats, and a dog, Laurel has added two geese to her ménagerie. The geese, aside from being silly and fun to
have around, eliminate the need for a lawn mower.

Since we were all together, we took the opportunity to take the yearly Christmas card picture.

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the fam
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Three Mile Island

Photos from Three Mile Island, in New Hampshire.

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The Camp at Three Mile Island is difficult to describe to anyone who hasn’t been there. First, there’s the name, which prompts everyone to make stupid nuclear meltdown jokes ("no, I don’t glow in the dark."). This island is in New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee, three miles from Center Harbor. Secondly, describing Three Mile as a place where one spends the week swimming, reading, walking, and playing pingpong doesn’t really capture the feel of the place. What really attracts people to Three Mile is that it’s always the same.

I’ve only just reached the age where I am beginning to sense change: a favorite restaurant closes, or an ugly house gets built around the corner. Three Mile, by contrast, remains almost entirely constant, and has for the last hundred years. When I was there a few weeks ago, I sat in the Main House comparing the way it looks now to photos from the 1910s. The furniture is newer and the fashions have changed, but every stone in the fireplace is just as it was when the grainy photographs were taken so long ago.

That’s not to say the island is a total constant. Every time I return I take note of the little
changes: a redone floor for the dining area, updated tshirts in the shop, a new highdive on the raft. But these changes are tiny, incremental improvements. The well-worn paths, the food, and the friendliness of the people never change. It always feels the same no matter how many years pass.

Three Mile is one of those things that divides the world in two: either you love it or you hate it. If a week of swimming in cold water and sitting around playing Scrabble while your opponent knits a sweater doesn’t sound like fun, there’s nothing wrong with that. As for me, I wish they still allowed people to stay all summer long.

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The main dock, busy with activity

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Small dock, sunset

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Two ducks for Char

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The Main House is a-rockin’

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If anyone can tell me what this gigantic dragonfly is doing to the carcass it’s standing on, I would appreciate it (actual size ~2.5in.)

Glasses

Look back to august and july of last year, and you’ll see complaints about vision. Well today begins another chapter in that tale; I got glasses. They’re pretty hip. The prescription is relatively weak, but it makes all the difference for me. I can read street signs at night again, yay!

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I think I look stupid in this shot, but char is irresistably cute
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