The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Extreme taxidermy, Ormond Beach, Florida edition

Bunny and I are on our way to Brevard, North Carolina (like we do every year) and our primary goal this year is to view the solar eclipse. Unfortunately, the weather is looking a bit grim in Brevard as it's expected to be raining next Monday, but who knows? Perhaps it will clear up by then.

Our first stop to refuel was in Ormond Beach, Florida, where we saw this beautiful example of classic American kitch:

[Here, have a stuffed alligator wearing an American flag somewhere in the Deep South. You are welcome.]

How did we ever survive not seeing this?


Pecan Encrusted Brie, is there nothing you can't do?

We have finally arrived!

[It's like our home away from home, only a bit more expensive.]

We made excellent time this trip, having taken a bit over eleven hours to drive the 750 miles. As usual, we're staying at The Red House Inn.

And as usual when we arrive on a not-Tuesday day of the week, we have dinner at The Square Root, an excellent restaurant tucked away in an alley in downtown Brevard (and who would have thought that Brevard was large enough to have an alley, much less one large enough to hide a restaurant?).

[I think they wanted to call the place 1.732050807568877, but that was just too long to use on a sign.  Also, those roots aren't square.]

We just can't get enough of the Pecan Encrusted Brie (“Delicious Fried Brie Served With Granny Smith Apples and Crackers With a Frangelico Praline Sauce”). Mmmmmmmmmm … Pecan Encrusted Brie …


Extreme white squirrels, Brevard edition

I can't quite place my finger on it, but I think the local white squirrel population is planning something.

[The alien white squirrel from Scratazon is here to abduct all native nut life forms.]

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The warping of space and time

Saturday, I spent ten hours at my high school's 30 year reunion (which I didn't blog about because other than the participants, who wants to read about a bunch of people you don't know? Also, what happens at Las Vegas stays at Las Vegas). Sunday was the every-other-week D&D game (which I don't blog about because other than the participants, who wants to read about a bunch of people you don't know pretending to slay dragons? Especially when said players don't slay the dragon?). Monday was an eleven hour drive to Brevard (which, unlike the previous two days, I did blog about because who doesn't want to see a stuffed alligator wearing an American flag?). It all finally caught up with me. I went to bed early (well, early for me). I reluctantly got up late (well, still early for me, but given the time I went to bed, it was late).

[The view from our pourch. Real trees! Shade! And we don't have to worry about alligators as there are none around here for miles! But there are bears ...]

Bunny and I had lunch at the Pisgah Fish Camp (and here I would include a link to the website, but apparently, The Pisgah Fish Camp is so busy serving up good food, they don't have time for a pesky website). But while the experience there was pretty typical (order and eat good food—seriously, the fish there is good) the experience getting there is anything but. It's odd, but space and time are warped here in Brevard. It seemed like a long drive to the Pisgah Fish Camp (and on one of the walls is a quote from the founder—“people called me crazy and said no one would drive this far out of Brevard for a meal.”) and yet—it was only four miles! Heck, Bunny and I drive farther than that just to our nearest IHOP, and that doesn't seem all that far for us. But here? It seemed like a long drive.

Traffic here is also weird. There is much less traffic here than back in Lower Sheol. And yet, it's still annoying. I'll pull up to a clear intersection, and just as I'm about to turn, an enevitable train of cars just moseying along the road materializes out of nowhere, too close together to make a safe turn, far enough apart to trick you into thinking you can make a safe turn, but no, you can't.


The alien white squirrels really are trying to take over

I was trying out a new search engine, Million Short (which allows you to easily exclude the top N websites) and while trying it out, I came across this:

There are a few towns in the US, though, that have very high numbers of white squirrels. This could be for a few reasons. First, predators in towns tend to be low. This cancels out the negative selection against the white morph. Sometimes in towns, a few neighbors will also select against the normal coloration of eastern grey squirrel. Yes, that happens. After a few generations, all you get are whites, and they can spread to the rest of the town! Fascinating!

The Big 5 White Squirrel Towns

The White and Albino Squirrel Phenomenon + New US Maps!

It's interesting that there are quite a few “Home of the White Squirrel” across the country.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Extreme portraiture, Brevard edition

A lot of restaurants here in Brevard display art from local artists, and Marco Trattoria is no exception. Hanging on the wall above our table was this lovely sculpture:

[Deep down, you know he's judging you on your choice of dessert, despite not ordering one.]

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thankfully I'm in North Carolina, where all I have to worry about are alien white squirrels

The department tweeted this week a map of where folks are said to have spotted lizard people in the past, out of concern that paranormal activity might be on the rise during the eclipse. "Regarding possible paranormal activity potentially occurring during the #SolarEclipse2017. As always, if you see something, say something," the department tweeted alongside the graphic, with tongue possibly in cheek (though who knows).

Via FaceGoogleLinkedMyPlusInSpaceBook, THE SOLAR ECLIPSE COULD BRING LIZARD PEOPLE, SOUTH CAROLINA EMERGENCY OFFICIALS WARN (REALLY)

Man, the crazy things people believe about this eclipse …


Extreme white squirrels, Brevard edition part deux

Bunny and I were in downtown Brevard on our way to eat at Rocky's Grill and Soda Shop when we came across a white squirrel:

[The white squirrel population here is quite large.]

I'm beginning to sense a theme here …


“Dude! You don't remember the Harmonic Convergence of 1987?”

After lunch, Bunny and I headed into the Penny Lane Exchange to pick up some new Hawaiian shirts. We entered, and the proprietor asked us if we were in town for the upcoming eclipse. We answered affirmatively, he then went on to ask if we recalled the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 and the emergence of a new paradigm of peace and harmony (no, really, it was a thing, thirty years ago today). Sadly, we had to inform him that no, we did not recall the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 but we really liked the shirts.

I have to remind myself that Brevard is in the shadow of Berkeley of the East.


Extreme globe, Brevard edition

Bunny and I stopped off at an antique store and there, I saw this really cool globe for sale:

[It was tempting. Oh so tempting. But I have to ask myself, “Self, just where are you going to put it?”]

The ranged rings aren't printed on the globe—it's a clear plastic hemisphere that can be repositioned. And because I was curious, I placed the center point on Korea. Not North Korea mind you, Korea! The globe is so old that the Korean peninsula is Korea.

And that clear plastic hemisphere … I have never seen such a feature on a globe before. And it might have been quite progressive at the time, for it has both miles and kilometers marked off.

A very cool globe.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Meat and conversation

Bunny and I decided to try Magpie Meat & Three, a restaurant in the industrial section of Brevard.

[This used to be on the wrong side of the tracks, until the tracks were removed. Now it's just the industrial side of the town.]

It wasn't immediately obvious where it was located, but we eventually asked and learned that it was behind the Squatch Bikes & Brew, a combination bike store and bar.

Seriously.

But like most food places around here, it's worth it.

[If they ever wanted to expand, they could always go for a loft approach.]

They also have a large selection of craft beers on tap, for those that are into that sort of thing.

[I suspect people don't drink the Stone Ruination DIPA for the taste.]

Nothing like good North Carolina BBQ for lunch.


Extreme plates, Brevard edition

As we were driving around, it looked like an interesting place. So we stopped by Mud Daubber's of Brevard. On the outside, it's a ramshackle building that looks like a stiff breeze would knock it over. On the inside is an incredible collection of pottery, all made locally.

One piece caught my eye—a plate:

[This is giving those 19th Century illustrators a serious run for their money.]

The level of detail is incredible and upon asking, I learned that the artist pressed real leaves into the clay before firing. The leaves burn away, leaving an impression that is then enhanced, giving it this beautiful 19TH Century illustrative look.

It's just an incredible piece of work.


I'm older than these are! How can they be antiques?

Another store we stopped at was the Shabby Shack Mall (no link for them—they only have a page on MyFaceGoogleLinkedBookPlusInSpace, which makes it nearly impossible for me to link to—damn those proprietary walled gardens!). It's supposedly an antique mall, but then they have stuff like this:

[A plastic Madonna doll, how appropriate.]

These aren't antiques! They're from a 1990 movie for crying out loud! They're younger than I am!

Sigh.

They also had this sign, which both Bunny and I found amusing:

[Those bullet holes really drive the point home.]

“Hi, I'm Sean. And I'm a globaholic.”

I couldn't help myself—I got the globe.

[I failed my “save vs. globe” throw.  Also, my iPhone identified this as a selfie—how scary is that?]

How could I not? It came with a geometrical plastic hemisphere!

[Lines, grid marks and numbers! Oh my!]

How many globes have you seen with a geometrical plastic hemisphere?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Extreme barshopping, Brevard edition

Bunny and I stepped into DD Bullwinkels Outdoors (which used to be next door to Rocky's Grill and Soda Shop but moved about a block away in the former Belk store on Main St.) so Bunny could pick up an Eclipse 2017 shirt.

Apparently, the big thing in Brevard is “barshopping,” where a store will have an indoor bar:

[Sadly, they do not have Stone Ruination DIPA on tap or in bottles.]

This isn't the first store we've seen that does this. It's just the first one with an impressive setup.


Extreme reminders, Brevard edition

I found this sign at Underground Storage (yet another business here who's web presence is on MyFaceGoogleLinkedBookPlusInSpace making it hard to link to):

[I drove 760 miles north from Ft. Lauderdale and what happens? I'm told to keep Ft. Lauderdale clean.]

I found it ironic (which I don't think is actually “ironic”, ironically enough).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The eclipse is not the only thing to see on Monday

In less than two weeks, millions of Americans will witness day turn to night as the moon blocks out the light from the sun, but there is more to the celestial spectacle than many think.

While all attention will be on the sun and the moon, many people's surroundings will change during the brief moments of totality.

Subtle differences may be noticed in areas that only experience a partial solar eclipse, but much bigger changes will take place along the narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina that see a total eclipse of the sun.

Via GoogleLinkedMyFaceInSpaceBookPlus, 5 surprising effects the total solar eclipse will have besides darkness

I've recently heard about the “shadow bands” (#5 on the list), but it never occurred to me that Mercury would be visible.


Planning for a shadow event

In the parking lot of the Red House Inn was an odd sight indeed:

[Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun. But mama, that's where the fun is.]

A chap from England was set up in the parking lot, testing out his small telescope, with sun filters. We chatted a bit, and he let me look at the sun through his telescope. It was cool seeing the activity on the sun, a few sunspots and even a solar flare or two.

I attempted to get a picture of the sun with the iPhone, but it had trouble focusing through the lens.


Extreme shoes, Brevard edition

[Dorothy Gale of Kansas refused to comment.]

Monday, August 21, 2017

IT HAS BEGUN!

It's starting. People are moving. Things are happening!

[Take us to your nut storage centers!]

IT'S THE INVASION OF THE ALIEN WHITE SQUIRRELS!

RUN!


Rocking the eclipse

[The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.]

O'br/ hpy ,u [rto; drmdsyobr dim ///

I should take those off before typing.

I've got my peril sensitive sunglasses, courtesy of the fine folks at the Red House Inn, and so far the eclipse is impressive. I've tried taking photographs, but even when I put my peril sensitive sunglasses over the camera, all I get is a bright blob that maybe, if you squint hard enough, looks kind of like a sun going through an eclipse. But that could very well be due to squinting too hard.

So I'm just sitting back and enjoying the event.

Bunny and I decided to stay put at the Red House Inn. We can see the eclipse just fine from here, and it avoided the craziness of downtown Brevard. Traffic was horrendous earlier today (we were out getting lunch) and we ended up driving along back roads to avoid the heavy traffic (which, oddly enough, would be considered “normal traffic” back home; my how time and space are warped here).


The end is over

[If you look closely enough, you can see the alien white squirrel invasion fleet pouring through.]

“Sean! Come quick! Look! Shadow bands!”

And sure enough, wriggling over the porch of the Red House Inn were shadow bands. Unfortunately, I was not able to capture a video of them—they did not last long at all.

And then—TOTAL ECLIPSE!

It looked like a hole in the sky. What an incredible sight. We could hear the cheers from downtown Brevard.

And like that, it was over. The sun is waxing, the temperature is rising, and the alien white squirrels are gone.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The quest for an alien white squirrel banner

About those banners:

[I, for one, welcome our new alien white squirrel overlords.]

Yes, those banners.

I wanted to know if I could obtain one (or two). So, after lunch, I walked to the Brevard city hall to ask about them. I figured that was the best place to ask, since it was city propery the banners were hung on. Now, city hall is located on the west end of Main Street, on the south side. It's not terribly far from the Red House Inn where we're staying.

The clerk at the main window informed me that the city had nothing to do with the banners in question. No, it was The Heart of Brevard who was responsible for the banners. And they're located on the east end of Main Street, on the north side. So I walked across town.

The receptionist at the Heart of Brevard informed me that they had nothing to do with the banners in question. No, it was The Transylvania Times (the local newspaper), located just a block north of the center of town.

More walking. The general manager at the Transylvania Times informed me that, yes, they were responsible for the banners about town. But no, they had no idea of the reception the banners would make and were still trying to decide on how much to charge for them. As it was, they ran out of the eclipse T-shirts and needed to get more.

So, I left my contact information with the general manager and hopefully, I'll get an officlal alien white squirrel invasion banner some time in the future.


Extreme mashups, Brevard edition

Without comment:

[I ... I got nothing, folks.]

A stuffed bear, wearing a white squirrel mask and an eclipse T-shirt.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Logan Lucky

Ah, “Oceans 7-11”.

Bunny and I saw Logan Lucky today (at the Co-ed Cinema in Brevard, a charming little one-screen theater downtown, and the only time I've been able to park right in front of the theater).

The movie is not as quirky and madcap as the trailer makes it out to be. But that's not to say it isn't good. It is, but it's not fast moving (although it's not slow—the pacing is actually spot on). Nor is it something you can half watch, as it turns out to be a rather cunning heist movie with more going on than expected. The two main brothers, played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, are much smarter than they come across. And Daniel Craig shows just how versatile he is as the demolitions expert Joe Bang.

It's not going to win any awards, but for a fun summer time movie, you can't beat it.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The last day of summmer vacation

Today is the last day Bunny and I are in Brevard. We met with an old college friend George at 12 Bones, a well known barbeque restaurant in Asheville. It was quite the interesting place, located between the river and a railroad among graffiti filled buildings. And there was a line out the door. Like I said, it's well known in the area.

The food was good. And plentiful. Both Bunny and I had the ribs with the pineapple habanero BBQ sauce, and yes, it had a definite bite to it.

Afterwards, Bunny and I headed to the WNC Farmer's Market, also in Asheville. We are now the proud owners of a peck of peaches, a bushel of tomatoes and a seemingly endless supply of corn. My car now smells like the produce section of a supermarket.

Not that I'm complaining.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I cannot post any more pictures to the blog (the circumstance—I upload the pictures to my server at home for processing, but there was a power outtage that lasted longer than the UPS; bummer!). I wish I could, because then you could see the graffiti filled buildings surrounding 12 Bones, and the very scary looking bee at the WNC Farmer's Market (but in reality, your imagination will probably be scarier than the real thing).

Tomorrow, the long drive back to Florida!

Friday, August 25, 2017

There and back again

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!

Now sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz–

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pictures from the past few days

Now that I'm rested and my computers are back up and running, I can post the few remaining pictures I would have liked to post but was unable to.

First up, when I mentioned parking right in front of the theater, I really meant it:

[Alas I could not get any closer as the city of Brevard frowns upon the sidewalk parking of cars. Bummer.]

I also mentioned that 12 Bones was located among graffiti filled buildings.

[While there is a line out the door, the staff at 12 Bones ensures snappy service, otherwise, the graffiti artists would certainly tag the parked cars for a lack of clean surfaces to graffiti upon.]

Then there was the trip to the WNC Farmer's Market, which not only had a scary honey bee mascot:

[If this is going to haunt my dreams, it's going to haunt your dreams as well.]

but also Christmas decorations:

[Don't worry, the tree will fatten up by the time Christmas rolls around.]

For nothing says “Chrismtas” like a hot August day.

And finally, I'm glad to see that Yorick finally got around to it.

[Because being dead is no excuse after all.]

Or two.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Having great customer service will excuse a multitude of sins

The longer I use Apple products, the more I feel like I don't actually own the equipment, and that Apple wants me to use it according to how they want me to use it, not how I want to use it. But then there are the times when I'm reminded why i use Apple products—the curated experience is wonderful!

I was reminded of this recently. On Saturday, Bunny spilled water on her Mac laptop. Now, all the advice I read said that the first thing you do, before anything else, is to

TURN OFF THE COMPUTER! IMMEDIATELY!

Unfortunately, we didn't know this and thus, the screen on Bunny's laptop went deathly white and it started making this horrible death squeal as Bunny was trying to sop up the water with a towel.

Sigh.

The second thing all the advice I read said was to dry out the laptop by keeping it open, placing it keyboard down on a towel over a milk crate and use a fan to blow air over it to dry it out, and to keep this up for up to 96 hours.

We managed maybe 48 or so before heading off to the Apple Store to see if they could help. Nope. It was dead. So we ended up getting a new Macbook Pro for Bunny. The sad part is, the new Macbook Pro had less memory (8GB) than her now dead Macbook Pro (16GB) and (as it turned out, but I'm getting ahead of myself) a smaller harddrive (128GB vs. 256GB).

We took it home, hooked up the external backup drive (Woot! Backups!), turn on the laptop and waited. That's when we “recalled” her old laptop had a larger harddrive. And at this point, it was a lost cause. The restore procedure stated insufficient storage space and it was a rather painful process to get past this. I tried doing a partial restore, selecting this and that to restore, but it just didn't really work (I suspect the programmers at Apple never really tested a partial restore). God it was painful. I could get nothing restored properly.

So Tuesday we repacked the new laptop back into its box, and headed back to the Apple Store. Now, despite the controlling nature of Apple, they do have fantastic customer service and there was no issue at all at exchanging the laptop we returned for one with a 256GB harddrive. Once back home, we plugged in the backup drive, turned on the computer and waited.

A few hours later, (and all we did was just let it do its thing) everything was back to the way it was before. Other than it being a new laptop, it was like she never dropped water on it. Yes, you pay a premium to use Apple, but sometimes, it's just worth it.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Say, isn't it time I get a new office? Why yes, it is

I'm in a new office!

[Edvard is a bit stressed with moving to a new office. Then again, Edvard always has the same reaction to everything.]

The Ft. Lauderdale office of The Corporation has expanded and as a result, we're in the process of playing “Musical Offices.” But unlike my just now previous office, I have a view outside!

[Because of my seniority, I get the spectacular view. My fellow cow-orker gets to view the wall behind me.]

And for the next week or so, my fellow cow-orker and I will have the entirety of the new expanded office space to ourselves.

Obligatory Picture

[Here I am, enjoying my vacaton in a rain forest.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2017 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.