Grab Bag O’Goodies: Miscellaneous Personal Updates from the First Half of February

Phwew. February has been eventful.

  1. This month marks the six-year anniversary of A Mild Voice of Reason.
  2. I’ve installed the Disqus system for comment management on this blog. The tool will allow my visitors to leave comments using logins from Disqus, Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. No personally identifiable information about any user is ever recorded or tracked by this site.
  3. February has been absolutely insane with contract work. Not only do I have a better-than-average chance of winning a four-figure contract with a local private client, but I’ve got $1,500 in open A/R with a national client for performing some fascinating special-project assignments. It’s nice having so much paid work that I don’t have time to do unpaid work. Not bad for a part-timer.
  4. Travel: It’s not just an adventure, it’s … OK, it’s an adventure. I’m planning on a June trip to Las Vegas to celebrate All Things Tony, then it looks like a GO to visit Italy in July for a tourist event with the St. Anthony choir. THEN, I’m apparently supposed to be in San Diego in August to attend this year’s Joint Statistical Meetings — I may or may not be chairing an SRMS session.
  5. Nerd alert! Last week I installed CM9 alpha 0.6 on my Touchpad. In plainer English: My HP Touchpad, acquired last year under firesale pricing, now dual-boots into the native webOS and CyanogenMod’s CM9 work-in-process release of Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich.” I’ve been running ICS almost exclusively for a week and love it compared to Android 2.x. There are a few bugs, but none that substantially affect me — CM9 0.6 doesn’t yet feature a working microphone or camera, but I use neither. Otherwise, it’s been remarkably stable and eminently usable. And the Feedly RSS reader is almost orgasmic in its elegance. That said, of all the mobile platforms, I’m still wildly in love with Windows Phone 7. I’ve used my WP7 phone since last September and have no complaints about the OS (only about companies that haven’t yet seen the wisdom of releasing a WP7 app). Unlike Blackberry and Android, which I loved for about three weeks until the platforms gave me reasons to kvetch, I don’t have any substantive qualms about WP7 and I’m excited as hell for the consumer beta of Windows 8 coming out in 10 days.
  6. Interesting news on the cigar front. First, on Wednesday Alaric and I went to Tony’s office in Lansing for a quick podcast followed by a trip to The Corona in Okemos to enjoy cigars in the lounge. Tony brought a bottle of The Macallan 18-year single-malt Scotch whisky. I purchased a Joya de Nicaragua maduro corona — the most full-flavored cigar I’ve ever enjoyed. Second, I have discovered two new things about the Grand Rapids tobacconists. Not only is Tuttle’s under new ownership as of the beginning of the month (the new owner introduced himself — nice fellow), but it seems that Buffalo Tobacco will soon open its own smoking lounge. On both counts, can I have a “hallelujah!?”
  7. Last Saturday I hosted a dinner party. Jon and Emilie came over from Novi and Tony and Jen came from Lansing. I prepared Pacific salmon fillets crusted with red pepper and pine nuts and steamed some reasonably fresh asparagus. The “salad” course was slow-cooked pasta jambalaya using some fabulous andouille sausage I picked up from Russo’s (and browned in olive oil); dessert was a chocolate-and-hazelnut cheesecake, also from Russo’s. I even offered a carefully planned appetizer platter — four different types of cheese, each selected to pair with the bottle of Sangiovese I picked up. We enjoyed conversation and appetizers and wine in the living room — with a nice fire, to boot — as soft Bach played. After dinner, we played a party game and knocked off a respectable number of additional bottles of wine. The evening’s festivities capped off the next morning with a group brunch at The Spinnaker.
  8. Sadness: I did buy an $80 bottle of port — casked in 1984, bottled in 1988, and aging ever since. Yet apparently the cork didn’t like this; much of it disintegrated into the bottle. I did strain some of the precious liquid into my decanter, but still.
  9. Elsewhere on the social front, I’m planning to have lunch and do some writing tomorrow with Duane. Last weekend, I had lunch with Charlie at The Winchester. Two weeks before that, I had a fabulous dinner with Stacie at The Green Well — highly recommended. It’s good to sit down with people for tasty food and tantalizing conversation. And let’s not forget the two writing events I attended this month. “The tentacles of love are like a bow metaphor” or something like that.
  10. I finally managed to finish my desk. Or rather, I decided I’m finished. It’s now a lovely U-shaped wooden contraption bolted to a large bookcase. I’m not entirely thrilled with one part, but I blame myself for not adequately thinking through the way I cut and assembled one segment of the frame. Still, everything’s off the floor and the wires are hidden and everything’s stained and the surfaces are stable, so I consider it a moral victory.
  11. I have the world’s most awesome landlord. Not only are he and his wife just a riot, but he’s very responsive — even to odd things. Last week, I noticed that I had a curious intermittent leak in the ceiling from my cigar room (the three-season porch). The fluid came directly from the kitchen sink area of the upstairs neighbor, and it was dark-colored and a bit greasy. I figured her J-trap came loose or something. But nope. It now appears that the fluid is raccoon urine, and the landlord is sparing no strategy — mothballs, live-bait traps, sealing the rafters — to fixing the problem. Yay me.

All for now. Ciao.

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