Wednesday, November 30, 2005


to celebrate payday, we are venturing out tonight to see the new harry potter film, something i've been looking forward to. and it's rated pg-13, which automatically makes it better than pg. no sour gummy candies this time, though - they always seem like a good idea but end up making me feel sick.

in other news, the new piano is getting some heavy use, especially in the area of advent and christmas hymns from various lutheran sources in the apartment.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

before and after

before and after colorswe finished painting the bedroom. although i can't exactly match for you the color of the walls previously, this green will give you a taste of the horror it inspired in us while trying to get a good night's rest. the other, known as "royal silk", is its replacement. actually, it is half the replacement - the other half is a creamy off-white known as "chamois cloth". don't ask me - i didn't make these names up. royal silk and chamois cloth form part of our computer-selected color scheme, which also includes "mountain haze" and "muse". you can find these colors somewhere at whatever their names, i'm sure you'll agree that they are an improvement.

special thanks to jacob, who just happened to be hanging out in berkeley today going to mattress stores (or something) and was kind enough to drive me to the hardware store on an emergency paintbrush run.


for the first sunday in advent, christie made a beautiful advent wreath using (a) a wreath, (b) some little plastic candle holders, (c) candles, and (d) her trusty but dangerous glue gun. these two days are days of creation - this morning we arose early and began painting the bedroom new color. the anemic yellow/green was too upsetting to let stay. we picked a nice rose-ish color to replace it. it is the first time (for either of us) to paint a wall... you know, for real. right now we are waiting for the first coat to dry.

Friday, November 25, 2005


thanksgiving at john's
thanksgiving at john's,
originally uploaded by nclinton.
we had an awesome time at john's place (c's cousin in mountain view) for thanksgiving. he set a wonderful table; he and his friends made some excellent food. (c's pies were lovely!) click here for the full set of thanksgiving pictures. we cooked, ate, played football in the park and watched rushmore.


originally uploaded by nclinton.
after some very careful thought, it occurred to us that we needed a piano before the holidays; so much musical performance obligation happens on the holidays and we need time to practice. so we scraped together what we had (including an early christmas contribution to the piano fund - thanks!) and our friends at the visa corporation paid the rest. some call it overspending, i call it consumption smoothing.

the result: the yamaha p120, a beautiful instrument. weighted keys, 64-note polyphony, all kinds of electronic ports and buttons. hurray for music.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


though we are not hosting a formal thanksgiving gathering at home, nate and i will be having an exclusive blueberry pancake breakfast tomorrow morning. i thought that was worthy of a centerpiece. it displays some of the fruits and vegetables i will be using to make seasonal pies and casseroles. the bread basket is a gift from my mom. the piece is spangled with a few family photos, the most beautiful being gorgeous little estelle being held by her auntie. (see how the sunlight from behind makes her glow? what a doll.) click on the photo and scroll forward to see a nice picture of our kitchen and of some flowers, too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


thanksgiving just around the corner, we went shopping for the necessary baking supplies. thursday we'll head down to john's place for the traditional holiday activites: eat, drink, watch people knock each other over on a huge television.

i'm busy trying to figure out why some people are famous and get lots of press even though they are 99% wrong. and no, i'm not talking about the obvious political examples. i mean this guy (look, i'm giving him more attention), who gets his little essay posted all over the internet, and he doesn't have the faintest idea what he's talking about.

his piece is called "price as signal" (ooo - he sounds so smart and authoritative) in which he claims that big record companies want digital music purchase to be variably priced (that is, not just a constant $0.99, as they are now on itunes, the only online music store that matters) so that they have another bargaining chip to use against the artists that work for them. and that more expensive songs will be more popular because people think more expensive means higher quality. he's got it all backwards, the nitwit.

the truth is, without intervention, in a pure perfect market, the price of a particular song would be almost entirely determined by the demand for that song (our friend is claiming that the demand is determined by the price). marginal supply costs are basically constant - there is some fixed cost in setting up the system and recording the music and promoting the music, but each extra track sold carries the same cost to deliver it. the result would be that the newest hit songs would have a very high price (because there is so much demand) and unwanted songs would be very cheap. this is what the record companies want, because they will increase profits by charging a higher price to those people who are willing to pay it.

but since marginal cost is approximately zero (it costs almost nothing to deliver an extra download), any increase in demand - even a big one, like for a newly released song - would not likely result in a (much) higher price in our idealized market view. apple computer, which runs the itunes store, sees this as a good thing: they can achieve market efficiency and keep things simple all at the same time.

in other words, the record companies don't want variable pricing because they want to exercise their market power over the artists (as in a monopsony) but because they want to exercise their market power over the music consumers, as in a monopoly (or in this case, an oligopoly, but it doesn't matter for this discussion). you see, the itunes store has thus far forced them to adopt a competitive price structure, which is better for consumers, but not for companies accustomed to not having to compete against anyone.

the point is, his whole price-as-signal thing is stupid. it's only about 1% right, but i'm being generous. there, sorry this was so long.

changing the subject, i've suddenly become interested in what this thing is that we call the "scientific method". i'm not sure exactly what it is, yet supposedly i've been doing it for some time now. i'll report my findings in short order.

an open letter to the president

dear sir,

the business of rhetoric can be nasty, and those who decry your administration's frequent use of the old attribute-name-calling-to-someone-else-usually-anonymous trick seem to forget that they are guilty of it themselves. of course, i rise above all that pettiness.

when these people talk about you to me, they say that you are a foolish liar. but i will not say any such thing.

i have heard that you are a sniveling, deceitful scoundrel. but i would never talk that way about you.

just today, someone on the internet wrote that you are an idiot. but it wasn't me.

i can think of a million things i wouldn't mention about you, including that you are selfish, moronic, hypocritical, evil, greedy, uncaring, despicable, reprehensible, and that you have made my life and that of millions of others less safe, more economically unstable, and less healthy.

i hope you can see now where i stand.

yours sincerely,

Sunday, November 20, 2005


last night i met c after her class and we went over to the mission for an early thanksgiving party at ryan and eliz' apartment. there was a huge turkey, candied yams, pumpkin pie, stuffing - all the good stuff. ryan and i work together at starmine. there were a lot of other work people there, too, so christie got to meet a few more of my colleagues. several of them had heard the cd (because i passed it around at the office) and were excited to meet "the musician."

this morning, c bravely got to class on time. i slept much longer than i should have (i try to keep a constant schedule).

our plans for the real thanksgiving are still unknown to me, although its a finite state of uncertainty. for me, work has entered a very-busy phase, which is why i haven't been very good about keeping the blog updated.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


rachel gordon visting for lunch
rachel gordon visting for lunch,
originally uploaded by nclinton.
yesterday we had rachel gordon over for lunch. she's an old friend of mine from cairo - we were both teacher's kids at c.a.c. i haven't seen her since graduation back in 1997! she's moving to the area soon from qatar, so she was in town interviewing for jobs. it feels strange to see someone after so long - i've lost touch with most of the folks from that time in my life. it's good, though, to re-connect, and yesterday was no exception. especially since christie made a special bulgar-wheat salad and a vegan (!) chocolate/peanut butter pie.

the evening's activity was short circuit 2 (we saw the original a few nights ago). classic! when the guy plays oldies using the telephone keys to tell the girl how to find them locked in the freezer! and then johnny 5 almost dies but they use a defibrilator to keep him alive after he catches the bank robbers! amazing film.

today is christie's class day, so i've just been relaxing (with a headache). i ventured out a couple of hours ago to get some fresh air and found a little donut shop that sold me a glazed donut (i like the star-shaped, crispy-ish, cake-y ones, you know?) and a little 8 oz coffee for $1.55. a deal, i think.

tonight we have sushi with c's friends from school.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


i am turning the comments feature back on for this blog. it is beginning to feel like a one-way dialog, and some people have exhibitionist tendencies (what do you think this blog is?) that need a relief valve. i will of course participate in comment discussions, but i reserve the right to completely ignore any and all comments.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


c's friends from school came over yesterday for a study group. she is lucky to have such friendly people to be with in class. and they even snatched a couple of copies of her album (which you should do if you haven't already - simply stunning). meanwhile, i am hard at work on the next iteration of to be released soon.

we signed up for netflix the other day. if you haven't heard of it, you pay a monthly fee and they send you a couple of dvds in the mail, which you watch and mail back to them and they send you the next ones on your list, etc. it's a nice alternative to renting (which is currently inconvenient for us). short circuit comes today - i'm so excited!

also, anyone looking for more ideas for gifts, anything on this list will do nicely, except gravity's rainbow, which i am currently struggling through. even things you think i've already read are great - i'm up for re-reading good books. a few surprises here, actually - two gibson novels and only one rushdie and no confederacy of dunces? come on...

please send me ideas for gifts for you, as well.

Friday, November 04, 2005

get rich... slowly

you know me - i'm always on the lookout for get-rich-quick schemes. this one reminds me of my method for almost-guaranteed returns at the roulette table. check this out: amazon has a new service (not working very well yet) called mechanical turk that allows you to do simple tasks for money. the reason this works is that the tasks are (a) small; (b) extremely easy for humans; and (c) extremely hard for computers. a lot of the tasks involve choosing the best picture from a list of possibilities (i.e. "which picture has a pizza parlor in it?") - those tasks go for $0.03 each. more involved tasks might be to write a product description for a certain automotive part (reviewed by a human later on) for $0.60 or so. basically, it amounts to far less than minimum wage, but an oh-so-compelling way to spend a bit of free time in these tough economic times of ours.

speaking of amazon, here's my wish list, in no particular order.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

brussel sprouts

originally uploaded by nclinton.
i know i promised you pictures of a sunset, but this is much more interesting. here is a brussel sprout stalk that christie picked up at the berkeley bowl the other day. how strange it looks! like a vegetable weapon, or a martian shrub. she cooked some of them this evening - scrumptious.

berkeley marina

i was slated to pick up j.c. from the airport yesterday evening, but we had a few extra minutes, so we wandered around the berkeley marina - the views are pretty incredible. a 360 degree experience: oakland skyline, bridge, sf skyline, bridge, marin county horizon, bridge, berkeley hills. (some pictures when i get home this evening.)

unfortunately, the time change means that i get home after dark, so i can't really enjoy the sunsets until spring rolls around... i know - poor me, right? <sniff>

we are starting to think about thanksgiving - so soon! we'll be home for that weekend. i hope we'll have some people over for dinner (because i love c's cooking), but we don't have any concrete plans yet.