Late for our anniversary – but well worth it

We were only a little late doing something for our anniversary, although I’m very late at blogging it.  But that’s OK; we actually did something nice this year.

At a friend’s blogged reccomendation, we tried the Craigie St. Bistrot for a nice dinner out – with the babysitter home with Roxanne!  At the risk of losing the price of a Happy Meal, I will tell the truth: it was wonderful.

The restaurant is almost tiny, hidden away in the basement of an apartment building.  As their website says, their kitchen is probably smaller than yours.  It’s intimate and very subtly but nicely decorated with touches of Frech whimsy and prints all around.  The waitstaff was amazing – not the formality, but certainly all the pleasantness and services you’d expect at any of the absolutely top places in town. I was wondering how the hierarchy of waitstaff went: what other restaurants do you have to work at first, and then where else, before you can work in a place like this.

Since it was our anniversary we got champagne cocktails from the chef to start with – a nice way to start, reminicent of Casablanca. Although the whole menu was tempting, we both went for the 3 course prix fixe, Amy for the veggie version.  Let’s see if I can remember all the wonderful things we had:

Amy had a warm green veggie soup (I forget what) – with an amazingly creamy green and fresh taste.  I had the tempura soft shell crab, perfectly done with some nice sauce and a bit of green stuff as a counter point (oh boy, I’m tired, can’t even remember what it was).

For dinner Amy had a sort of pasta primavera, so to speak: fresh veggies, with ricotta gnocci.  I had the softest, richest pork chop I’ve ever had.  I don’t know how they cooked it to such perfection: it’s not just getting it barely hot enough to cook it without drying; there was something much more – I didn’t know chops could be that – lucious.  I also went for the Vouvray for a glass of white with dinner – the waitress was just right in confirming the choice.  As IO and LR confirmed, while the wine list is only moderately sized (all French, by the way), it’s cheap for the caliber of food you get.

We got the desserts – which each came with a paired dessert wine.  They split the glasses, since we were splitting both desserts.  First a cheese plate – it was me, of course.  Goat, sheep, cow: each interesting and complex on many layers; plus good french bread, dates and sweet fruit, and a touch of bitter greens to cleanse in between.  Then a fruit crumble with a pistachio crumble topping.  Both wines were wonderful – very complex and appropriately sweet without being cloying, even a touch of dryness in one.  Heck, I’m a very dry fan, and I’d be happy drinking one of these with an appropriate dinner myself.
The funniest thing about the staff was the bathrooms.  It’s tiny: there is a front door, and the only other exit is a long twisting hallway that goes to both the kitchen and bathrooms.  Every time a patron goes to ‘go’, the staff quietly says “diner coming thru” and they all carefully get out of your way.

Menus change daily; they are printed shortly before the restaurant opens, after they’ve done their day’s shopping.  Deal that can’t be beat: Wed & Sun, at 9pm, they offer a Chef’s Whim tasting menu for only 39.95!  You’ll never know what it will be, but I can’t wait to try it.

ApacheCon day #4: Segwaying into Lightning

Today started on time, although without nearly enough sleep due to the hospitality of room 925 (or was that 924), and dreaming of how many flickr postings I’ll have by the end of today. But sessions need chairing, and I succeeded in roping in enough volunteers that I only had to chair one session by myself, and learned something about Forrest to boot.

Talking to people stuff looks pretty good – most people seem quite happy with what they’re getting from the con, and the few complaints are all about things that aren’t serious. It was also nice to see Tim mention in his keynote (he’s a first-time AC attendee, if you can believe that) that ApacheCon was one of the politest conferences he’s been too (blogged about too).

That’s great, because we believe that a large part of the purpose of ApacheCon is to allow our communities to gather f2f and meet each other. After the first few hours – once people loosen up – you can’t walk through two sessions without overhearing some folks who’ve known each other on mailing lists for months/years finally meeting in person and getting along great. Actually writing that down makes me realize how important that is, and how glad that we’ve been able to create the communities and the conference to allow that kind of connection to happen. [warm fuzzy thoughts]

Tim Bray’s keynote was unfortunately delayed due to the main laptop dying precisely at 11:30, but seems to be going well now. It’s also interesting to see the emphasis on Sun – IBM collaboration over Derby and how much they support Derby. Good stuff.

“We should say thank you to IBM for keeping Cloudscape [and donating it to become Derby.” – Tim Bray, keynote

With thanks to brianm signing us up, I got to take an hour ride on a Segway with some other cool Members. Certainly not something I’m gonna go buy, but it was a definite blast riding around with them, even if they didn’t give us the ‘yellow key’ that unlocks the low-speed limiter. Our guide (who made sure we didn’t do something stupid with the 5 Segways we had) had the full-speed version and could literally do rings around us. Pictures are available courtesy of sylvain, thx!

After some more running after session chairs, I opted out of learning more Cocoon from gianugo’s beautiful slides in his Slicing and Dicing REST with Apache Cocoon talk. I saw him practicing with the slides on his Titanium beforehand, and they were stunning in their simplicity and beauty with stock photo images in the background – a nice contrast to the many other plain presentations, good content notwithstanding. Instead I went to take a short nap to recharge before the evening activities.

An hour later – after my cell phone, set on vibrate, indeed did not wake me up with it’s alarm, I ran down to the Lightning Talks and was the last person to put my name in the ice water pitcher. Much hilarity – and some good and heartfelt content – ensued. I still feel dumb that I didn’t jump up and say “Pick me!” after Julian’s Anti-pornography talk, since I think I would have been funny, but that’s how the ice water pitcher pours. The closing talk by fielding was a bit flat, but was a good story about Apache Jackrabbit, and the pictures were terribly amusing.

The world premiere of FUD, The Movie was fairly well attended, although since it ran late some folks left early to go to BOFs – their loss. Hopefully there will be plenty of other blogs talking about FUD, and I hope michi and company post it or work on some other distribution so more folks can see it.

After the movie I was naughty and skipped out on the PRC BOF to do dinner with Sally. Dinner with Sally is an annual tradition, one I’m thrilled to be part of. She does her ‘magic’ to get reservations at somewhere fabu, and we work on a small guest list of cool folks. Both food, drink, and company were wonderful this time, and I can’t wait for next time. I’m really glad to have finally really met wsanchez, too.

Still being up after we got back, I wandered over near the hotel bar (not into it!) and got roped into reading thru Julian’s photo book (the conference photographer, really fun guy), then sitting down, then having a drink, then… Was fun, and talked to jerenkrantz about interns, so he’ll keep an eye out for referrals for EB.

ApacheCon day #3: Session Chairs

Placeholder for what happened and some ramblings about getting Session Chairs for AC-US. Admittedly we were late trying to get chairs signed up, but still it’s more effort than it should be.

More later, if I can remember it after the feather tattoo and the sushi…

Tidbit: shouldersurfing, no ApacheCon is complete without an attendee pulling up the google/yahoo/etc map of the nearest Fry’s to the conference hotel.

Trip Report: Philadelphia

Mom had a training class in Philly at a fancy hotel, so dad and Roxie followed her to keep the family together. Besides the obvious missing the family, I figured it’d be a lot easier for me to entertain her during the days by myself than it would for me to get her to sleep through the night by myself.

The flights were fine, even on one of the ‘budget’ airlines. We even swapped for an earlier return flight since we got to the airport several hours early without any hassles. Roxie was excited in the terminal and in the plane, then mom fed her as we took off, then she fell asleep. A great way to travel – as long as the flight isn’t longer than her average 1.5 hr nap, that is.

The hotel was fairly swanky, and that was where the training class was so it was terribly convenient. We just did Chili’s the first night, since we didn’t have any inspiration and they’re usually pretty good (read: quick service) for families with children. Roxie still had to run around a couple of times before we finished though.

We spent one day basically driving around and trying little bits of things. I planned on the museum, but she fell asleep in the car so I ended up driving over the bridge to NJ so she can say she’s been there. (The real reason was that dad wanted to see BB-62 moored there – but there’s no place to drive near it, oh well).

That night we went to pod, an uber-hip restaraunt we had walked by in University City. Oh, my, my hips hurt after eating there – very good sushi (Roxie only had the plain rice) and actually quite fun decor. Expensive, but worth a try if you’re nearby and want to see and be seen.

Next day we drove up to see some relatives north of the city. I meant to spend a couple of hours and have lunch; we ended up staying all day after it was obvious Nancy, at least, loved having the kiddo around (and after she took a long nap). Then a long drive back and forth to see some of mom’s friends in the area for dinner – which was quite nice. They have a 6 month old, and it’s amazing how you just can’t judge anyone else’s kids (or parenting styles) against your own, no matter what. It just doesn’t work – it was amazing the differences between how they do it and how we do it. I got to geek out with their dad who’s in hardware design, and he actually explained what Six Sigma is all about.

It’s amazing that it’s really not that big a deal – basically just actually following a lot of the measurement procedures everyone says they do but don’t actually do, and then conciously using those metrics to improve. Oh, and some statistics too.

Next day was a half-day class, so dad and Roxie did a short trip to Reading Terminal Market to walk around and shop. Pretty cool – it’s a combination of Haymarket inside a giant Quincy Market (if you’re a Bostonian) or Pike Place Market inside one building (if you’re from Seattle). I think Roxie really liked it: I’d take her by a stall and point out all the cool stuff they had (whatever it was there). Then we’d start walking to the next stall, and she’d be saying and signing “More! More!”. She just liked seeing stuff. Of course things she recognized were coolest: fruits and veggies, fish, and the lobsters (since they moved).

Then we did a short visit to the Please Touch Museum, a place designed for little kids to play with. Pretty cool. We both liked the Alice in Wonderland exhibit – dad, because it was so well done, and Roxie, because they built a hall of mirrors. She also loved the farmyard exhibit, because it had fake veggies you could ‘pick’ (including plastic ears of corn) and a row of chickens in a henhouse that would mechanically peck at the ground – “More! More!”.

Even though we took the back roads to the airport to try to find cheap gas for the rental car (we did: more than 20 cents cheaper than the place by the airport) we still got there early enough to score an earlier flight to get home to see the cats. Whoo-hoo, nice trip!