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.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Brevard or Bust

Bunny and I left at O'dark 30 for our yearly trip to Brevard and we made excellent time. The plan, as was usual, was I drive until the sun comes up, letting Bunny get a bit more sleep, then we switch places where she drives and I sleep.

[I wear ear protectors so that Bunny can listen to whatever radio station she wants while driving.  I also have ear buds in, listening to “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld” as I sleep.  All hail our new Ultraworld overlords!]

11½ hours later we arrived at The Red House Inn, our favorite place to stay. We were fortunate in there being a break in the rain to let us unload the car, and it was then when I had the horrible realization that my iPad (which I use as a laptop while on vacations) was 750 miles away, sitting were I left it at Chez Boca.

Sigh.

Obviously I have work arounds, but it's still annoying.

Anyway, we're just relaxing after a long drive and will shortly have dinner at The Square Root.

Friday, September 28, 2018

An inadvertent lock-out, Brevard edition

Bunny and I are taking it easy on the first day of vaction. The weather is nice—sun is out, temperature is mid-70s, and there's the sound of the neighbor mowing his rather sizable lawn.

[Nothing like a private porch to spend a late summer afternoon (yes, I know it's technically autumn right now). You wish you were here.]

So I'm sitting on the private porch at The Red House Inn when I attempt to check my email. I can't.

You see, I use mutt to read my email. It runs directly on my email server, but to log into my email server, I have to first log into my home system due to filtering of ssh attempts by the hosting company (which doesn't really bother me all that much). But I too, have some filtering going on at home. I programmed my own syslog daemon to block ssh attempts after five times, regardless of time between attempts, or, as it turns out, regardless of sucessful attempts!

Because I left my iPad at home, I'm having to type my password. And due to the keyboard I'm using (it's not a Model M keyboard and therefore by default, this keyboard sucks) I incurred a few failed log in attempts.

Oops.

Well, that sucks! I thought. Wait! I know! I can log into work over The Corporation's VPN to my workstation there, and from there I can log into home and fix the situation. The problem became logging into the VPN.

And now I have two problems.

I called a fellow cow-orker, D, but he did not have the information I needed to configure the VPN, but as I was working on it, the idea came that all I really needed was a different Wi-Fi network to log in from.

And then I noticed my iPhone next to me.

It has a “personal hotspot” feature.

“Oh!” I said.

A few minutes later, and I had no problems.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Extreme Beethoven, Brevard edition

Beethoven lives!

[My future's so bright, I gotta wear shades!]

What? You don't belive me?

[Shelob is no problem.  She's so little of a problem that my secretary Anton took her out! Once I get rid of this stupid ring I can then start work on Symphony No. 10.]

'Nuf said.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Extreme bears, Hendersonville edition

Bunny and I drove to Hendersonville to view a street-based art show (Main St. was blocked off to vehicular traffic and artists set up booths along the street). Amid the artist booths were a slew of bears.

[I think I can bear the Mona Lisa.]

I suppose if Brevard has their white squirrels, Hendersonville can have their bears.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Another attempt to photograph dinner

Bunny and I had dinner at The Stable Café, which is located in the former stables of Biltore House. We had a night time tour planned and we decided to have dinner there on the estate before the tour.

[Darn it! I can never remember to take a picture of dinner prior to eating it. Oh well, another in a long line of empty dinner plates.]

The food was quite good and given the location,

[It's hard to believe that we're not at some French chateau sipping fine wine and eating Brie.]

the price was very reasonable.


Glass & Stone, Light & Dark

The “stone” refers to Biltmore, the largest private home in the United States.

[I feel it's more imposing at night.]

The “glass” is the works of Dale Chihuly, reknowned glass blower. Bunny and I have had a years-long discussion about Chihuly and his “works.” He doesn't do the actual work, he just signs his name to the works, as well as the paychecks to the artisans who do the actual work of blowing glass. In that regard, he's like Thomas Edison, taking credit for the work of his employees. Edison didn't personally try over 5,000 different materials for light bulb filaments; no, it was an army of unknown engineers who tried over 5,000 different materials for light bulb filaments. And it's the same for Chihuly—his name goes on the works.

Bunny's argument is that Chihuly does the design work, which is the important part. Now, whether he does the work himself, or has an automated computerized glass-blowing machine or an army of artists blowing their lungs out, it's the vision of Chihuly that's important, not how the actual work is carried out. And to a degree I can buy that argument—that the art is more than just the method used to create it.

But regardless of who does the work, we came to Biltmore for the Chihuly At Night exhibit (thus the “light” and “dark” reference to the title). And man, it is impressive.

[I'm just glad I didn't have to put this thing together.]

A small portion of the display was in the main house:

[The sunroom has been overtaken by alien glass plants.]

But the majority of the works were outside.

[Um ... I think drops are supposed to fall downward, not towards the ceiling.] [I think this is supposed to invoke the image of candlesticks in holly.] [A garden of glass.] [It would make a wonderful Christmas Tree ornament except you would need a hundred foot tree to hang it from.] [It rises from the lake like ... um ... glass monster from the lake?  I don't know, I'm out of words here.]

It's unfortunate that these pictures do not do the works justice—the colors are way deeper and more vibrant than what you see here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Extreme white squirrels, Brevard edition

Bunny and I were walking along Main Street in Brevard when we came across one of its famous white squirrels:

[That squirrel sure has some large ... acorns.]

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Extreme government secret alien guitars, Brevard edition

Near the outskirts of Brevard, is a small store selling unique guitars.

[On the downside, the guitars are tuned to a 17 note octave because the Green-greys like dissonant atonal music.]

At this time I cannot divulge the location of said store, as there are three Men in Black sitting across the street from me, watching …

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Extreme lawn ornaments part II, Brevard edition

The cows are still there.
[One cow ignored me, the other cow wanted nothing to do with me. Those plastic cows are so tempremental.]

Friday, October 05, 2018

Extreme metal chickens, Fletcher edition

Bunny and I drove to Smiley's Flea Market in Fletcher, NC (just south of Asheville). Smiley's advertises that they're open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but it didn't appear that way to us:

[We're open. Yes, indeed we are open. Please come and shop?  We're desperate here for business. No, really!  We're open!]

We did, however, come across this impressive matal rooster in a stall that might have been open?

[He needs no motivation to cross the road.]

It was hard to say since the place appeared devoid of people.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Extreme Rusty Waterfalls, Lake Toxaway edition

On the way to Cashiers, NC for an art festival, as we passed the The Falls Café and Grill in Lake Toxaway we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, we needed to turn around as it came up rather suddenly as we were coming around a curve on the two-lane road. I found the first available road to turn onto, hoping to find a spot to turn around. The road I turned on was a twisty, high-grade one-lane road where I had to drive nearly a mile before I found a driveway to turn myself around. On reflection, I'm surprised I never encountered another car going the other direction, as backing up was not an option.

The Falls Café and Grill was good, but the view was fantastic:

[They really need to use WD-40 on those falls before the entire thing rusts closed.]

The art festival in Cashiers was good—worth the drive, but nothing extreme lept out at me while there.


Have scissors, will shear

So I received this wonderful piece of spam today:

From
Richard Kalou <barristerjustinfrank@gmail.com>
To
undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject
I am Richard Kalou by Name,I have an important issue to shear with you So get back to me urgently through my email ( richardkalou77@gmail.com )
Date
Sat, 6 Oct 2018 17:28:34 +0000

And tht's it. No explanation. Just the subject line stating that Richard has an important issue involving sheep. Or alpacas, I think you shear those, right?

So Richard has an important issue with alpacas—llamas! You can also shear llamas! So it's an issue involving sheep, alpacas or harmonic llamas that I need to urgently write back to Richard.

The only thing is—I don't know how to shear!.

Sorry, Richard, I can't help you.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Extreme benches, Brevard edition

[This is one special snowflake of a bench.]

Gah! I'm repeating myself!

That picture of the large white squirrel I took Tuesday? Yeah, that's the same white squirrel I took Thursday last year. I can't believe I'm repeating myself!

Ah!

Monday, October 08, 2018

Extreme swings, Brevard edition

[My uncle placed me on a bicycle with no training wheels and shoved hard. On one side a yard filled with divots. On the other side a busy four lane road. I learned to ride a bike in three days out of self defense. A swing next to a major road does not phase me. In fact, I think that this would build character.]

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Extreme wait times, Brevard edition

While walking to downtown Brevard for lunch, we passed by Marco Trattoria. It seems to be a popular place for lunch, given the long wait for a table:

[“Um ... hello? Is there a table ready yet? I'm a bit parched.”]

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Extreme TARDIS, Brevard edition

In downtown Brevard there's a store called Mantiques:

[This isn't any antique store, this is a MANtique store! Aaaaaaarrrrrrh!]

And in the store they had something I'd thought I'd never see—a TARDIS!

[This one must be using the  Victorian control room. I wonder if Tom Baker is near by?]

Sure, it may look like a call box, but I know better.


“It has a slight kick to it”

For the past few months, each time Bunny and I have gone to a Buffalo Wing joint, I had decided to try the hottest sauce available just to see how hot they were. Despite having names like “Ghost Habanero Death Flame” or “Last Rights Hot Sauce” about the best I could say was “it has a slight kick.”

But today Bunny and I tried Zaxby's, a chain Buffalo Wing joint that hasn't quite made it down to Chez Boca. As is my wont, I decided to try their hottest sauce, “Insanity.” Our order taker actually said “Good choice!” when I picked it.

Wow!

I don't think I've ever had my eyes water like that. It wasn't so hot (for me) as to be impossible to eat, but it had a strong hum of heat that came close to being impossible to eat.

What a nice surprise for a change.


Guess who's blowing past us?

Hurricane Michael did not hit Chez Boca (it skipped Lower Sheol entirely) and it's not expected to hit us here in Brevard and yet, it is already affecting our trip.

We were planning on leaving tomorrow, but tomorrow, Hurriane Michael will be Tropical Storm Michael and will be moving over the very area we would be driving through.

Bunny and I do not want to drive through a Tropical Storm.

Sigh.

So we've extended our stay here in Brevard by one day. On the down side, we can't extend our stay at the The Red House Inn as our room is already booked for the next guest, which saddens me because I am so going to miss siting on this porch.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Extreme phones, Brevard edition

Because of the extra day in Brevard (and the rain, oh it's been raining all day today!) here's another picture from Mantiques:

[For the average user, this is just as easy to use as the VMS command line.]

It doesn't quite seem as elegant as the classical TARDIS console.


I've got to start thinking about what to write for the upcoming NaNoGenMo

AI-generated language shows more of Nakawaza's machine aesthetic. US internet artist Darius Kozemi launched the annual NaNoGenMo contest in 2013 – instead of writing a novel during November (NaNoWriMo) entries of 50,000 words have to be generated by a program. "What I want to see is code that produces alien novels that astound us with their sheer alien-ness," he has said. "Computers writing novels for computers, in a sense."

Past entries include The Psychotherapy of Racter or The Descent into Madness of Dr Eliza, in which two chatbots asked each other questions. Dial "S" for Sudoku's 50,000 words told of "Alice" solving eight Sudoku puzzles at length plus excerpts from her dream diary.

Artificial still life: Artist Robert Todonai programs robot to paint an original | afr.com

My “novel” of 2015's NaNoGenMo The Psychotherapy of Racter or The Descent into Madness of Dr Eliza was mentioned in The Financial Review. I'm thinking only because of the name, because I certainly didn't finish it.

And this reminds me, I have to think up an idea for this years NaNoGenMo …

Saturday, October 13, 2018

There and back again

Friday was an absolutely beautiful day to drive—clear blue skies as far as the eye could see. Bunny and I checked out of the hotel at 11:00 AM and started the drive to WNC Farmers Market to pick up some fresh produce before driving home. The WNC Farmers Market is right off I-26 so it wasn't like we were going that far out of our way.

Only the traffic to the WNC Farmers Market was slow. Man, it took us much longer to get there than expected, and then we had to muck about with finding an ATM because some of the farmers at the WNC Farmers Market don't accept plastic. So there was some time lost there. Soon after that, we started the drive home.

The first 19 miles took us well over an hour to drive. For some reason we never were keen to, half of I-26 Eastbound was blocked off between Asheville and Hendersonville. It was a portent of things to come.

Our fantastic time of 11½ hours to Brevard was countered by our worst time of 13½ hours from Brevard. Traffic along I-26 was horrendous as much as the weather was wonderful. But we made it back and now we recuperate from our vacation.


Extreme general interest reading, Brevard edition

The photos I present of Brevard are the ones I tend to find whimsical or surreal, and when not repeating myself, I hope I have done a good job. It's not everyday that one comes across a bear wearing a hat:

[Remember, only you can prevent forest rangers.  Only you.]

I decided against posting that one because, let's be frank, when you come across a bear wearing a wig and a dress, a hat-wearing bear just doesn't cut it anymore, you know?

But during this trip, I took a photo that was so out there, that I hesitated to post it. Mind you, I don't go that much out of my way when I take these pictures—I see these weird and (usually) wonderful things as I'm out and about and take a picture.

It's with this in mind that I found myself in a grocery store in Brevard. I'm not going to name names but be aware that there are at least three different grocery store companies operating in Brevard. So I'm in this grocery store when I come across … well … this:

[Seriously, this blew my mind.  Um ... pun unintended.]

If you click on the picture, you'll see what this grocery store thinks passes for “General Interest” magazine reading in this part of the country. Had this section been labeled “Hunting” I would have just walked on by without a second thought.

But “General Interest?”

This may be the most surreal picture I took on any trip to Brevard, cross-dressing bear included (even if it's a female bear, I would still consider it “cross-dressing” as it's wearing clothing not native to its species). In fact, I find the cross-dressing bear less disturbing because at least it was an intentional Hallowe'en display. The “General Interest” reading rack? If that's intentional, I'm not sure what it says about the grocery store or the area. And if it's unintentional … I … I'm still not sure what that says about the grocery store or the area.

Obligatory Picture

[It's the most wonderful time of the year!]

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.

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