Archive for May, 2006

Attention rom-com fans: 2-for-1 tickets to “The Break-Up”

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

If any other romantic comedy fans out there have been looking forward to “The Break-Up” starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaugn, you’ll be as happy as I was to know that MasterCard is doing a special promotion on Fandango: buy at least 1 ticket using your MasterCard, get a ticket free.

So Karsten and I are all set to see it this Friday for less than $10. Yay!

How does your garden grow?

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

This is the moment Karsten and I have been waiting for: the daylilies have started to bloom!

The star of the show: Daylilies!

Thought I’d show a picture or two of the stars, as well as a few pics of some of the other sections of the yard garden, like the herb garden:

Herb garden

Also a pic of our new bikes!

Desmond Dekker dead at 64

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Of a heart attack. I think it’s going to be an all-reggae music day in his honor.

New new-to-me find: SplashShopper

Friday, May 26th, 2006

After raving about A Cook’s Books yesterday, I have another new find to coo over: SplashShopper by SplashData.

Now that I’m getting back into the swing of tracking down recipes and creating shopping lists, I wanted to be able to have those shopping lists in my handheld in a useful way*. Years ago, I used HandyShopper and JShopper, but without a desktop companion, I found them too tedious to keep up with. I figured shopping programs must have evolved quite a lot since then, so I decided to give them another try.

After downloading a few trials, I fell in love with SplashShopper. I love the Palm interface as well as the desktop interface for Mac, and I love that it synchronizes so smoothly. I love, too, that you can set items up as being findable in multiple stores, with a separately assigned aisle and price for each store. Perfect! And of course you can do much more than grocery lists with it. I started importing all my wish lists into it last night: library stuff, CDs to buy, DVDs to buy, movies to see, home stuff to buy, etc. And I may try using it as a To Do list app, too — I’ve been pretty unimpressed with iCal’s To Do management and want something more robust.

The main drawback is the price. At $29.95, it’s pretty steep. And after spending $25 on A Cook’s Books, an even higher-priced shopping list program is not really in the budget right now. These things sometimes go on sale at the various Palm software stores, but I doubt it will come down more than a few dollars. So that’s something to think about. But I may try digging around and finding the 30 bucks somewhere in other parts of the budget. Because I am, after all, a woman obsessed. Cooking — and its counterpart, grocery shopping — are providing a needed return to sanity for me, and I may decide sanity is worth 30 bucks.

* Incidentally, if that’s a primary requirement for you, there are recipe management programs out there that do export shopping lists into HandyShopper or SplashShopper format — Connoisseur does it, and was for many other reasons the close runner-up in my software selection process — its main problem was that it didn’t scale well. I got as far as 1835 recipes and everything started to drag considerably. My entire recipe collection is probably close to 10,000 and is always growing. I was also unhappy with the multiple-tab interface for interacting with recipes.

If you love recipes, Macs, or software development, you’ll appreciate this

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

[Because tells me I've been quiet lately, I guess I'm making up for the past two weeks of silence with all these posts this morning. :-) ]

Since I switched to using a Mac last November, I’ve had little difficulty finding good and sometimes much better replacements for the Windows software I’d been using, but I struggled with finding a suitable replacement for MasterCook. Recipe management software abounds for OS X, but few have the features I really came to rely on in MasterCook (good import/export to and from a variety of formats, unlimited categories for each recipe, good search capabilities, scalability to several thousands of recipes, nutrition calculation, meal planning, shopping lists, pantry management, etc), and nothing I found seemed to have all of those features.

Until yesterday, when I found A Cook’s Books. It has almost everything I need in some form or other, and since it’s still in beta, some of it will probably be improving, too. But what’s there is already solid. I used it for a few minutes and was totally sold. Bought it and was very happy.

After importing a huge amount of recipes (4800-ish!) and manipulating them, I ran into my first bug so I emailed the developer (it’s an unusually good beta product — the error messages actually include directions on where to email issues) describing the problem and saying something like “by the way, it would be GREAT to be able to do this in such-and-such a way” and within a few hours, he responded and let me know that the suggestion I’d made was actually in the next release and did I want to test it? So now I’m beta-testing the new-new version, and I’m flipping out loving it. I’m finding gems in my recipe collection that I’d forgotten all about or never noticed before, marking recipes that use the overly abundant cilantro in my herb garden, and flagging recipes that will be very handy once my huge crop of zucchini is ready this summer.

So anyway. I’m an obsessive cookbook and recipe collector, so color me a very happy obsessive. :-)

How do ghosts write, anyway?

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

OK, and on to a lighter subject: I wonder who ghost-wrote this for Gore?

“[...] He presents, with alarming clarity and conclusiveness — and with humor, too — that the fact of global warming is not in question and that its consequences for the world we live in will be disastrous if left unchecked. [...]“

Conspiracy against the grieving

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

I was just reading a blurb in the Borders newsletter about Tim Russert’s new book “Wisdom of our Fathers” and getting choked up when I noticed a CNN email alert that Ian Copeland died Tuesday and he was only 57, so I went to check that article out, and of course he died of melanoma.

Looks like it’s going to be a rough Father’s Day this year.

Edited to add: Billboard’s obit.

About Stephen Colbert: Am I missing something?

Friday, May 12th, 2006

Yesterday, since I was sick and stuck in bed with only a laptop and a wireless DSL connection and needed entertainment, I finally watched the video of Stephen Colbert’s now-legendary speech at the White House Press Corps Dinner. Yes, I’m a little behind the times. Fortunately, quite a lot of people seem to still be talking about it, so I’m not so late as to be irrelevant.

And yes, I thought it was brave and funny material. And yes, he deserves the praise he’s gotten from the left side of the fence for chiding the president along with the puppy-dog press.

But what I’m having trouble with is the notion that everyone was so shocked by Colbert’s performance. Didn’t everyone know in advance that Colbert was going to do something like this? Did the President, the First Lady, and all the administration show up completely unaware that Stephen Colbert was speaking, and that his bit would most likely skewer everyone present?

I’m not a complete political novice — I’ve seen more than a few episodes of “The West Wing,” after all — so I don’t think I’m entirely off-base when I imagine that the whole agenda may have been elaborately conceived as a way to make the president seem a little more human, a little more likable. After all, Bush’s own presentation, complete with Bush impersonator, used some of the same self-mocking jabs as Colbert’s.

So what am I missing in all the hubbub?

It’s more than procrastination; it’s creating a creative workspace

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

Now that, by default, I’m once again a songwriter by day and night, I decided to improve my work environment. The office/studio/catroom, though fairly large, serves a lot of purposes in one space and needed some organizing.

So I’ve spent much of the past few days cleaning up the office a bit. I had managed to let quite a bit of filing pile up, so I took care of that and then attacked a few bigger problems, like the magazine shelf. I recycled all our old issues of Entertainment Weekly. I realized that, of all the magazines we keep around for reference, there’s never been any reason to go back and look at an old issue of EW — or, well, actually, that’s not true. There was a reason once, but I couldn’t find the item I was looking for. Either way, they’re useless as reference tools. So they’re gone, as are a bunch of home furnishing and clothing catalogs. No money to spend, no point thinking about it.

Donated a huge pile of clothing I was planning to sell on eBay but concluded would not be worth my while as none of it was new with tags (but I kept the items that are NWT); managed to clear off several surfaces; got the Logitech USB notebook speakers working with the PowerBook (we bought them when I was doing the Indy gig and could never get sound to come out of them, but I figured out there was a system preference that needed to be set); and just generally made the place look better and be nicer to work in.

And even got some writing done first thing this morning, so my efforts are paying off.