rescuetime is cool

My friend Bryan (no, not an alternate personality) showed me this whizzy little web 2.0 site/app that you put on your computer which then times, down to the second, how long you spend in each application (and, for web browsing, how long you spend on each website). It then reports this data to the central website and makes little graphs of the time spent. Here’s my first graph, encompassing about an hour of computer use at the lab:

my first rescuetime graph

So much fun for people like me who spend most of their waking hours staring at computer screens. You can then go on and tag each application with its category (textmate = coding, = the website for the class I’m TA’ing, etc). It’s a lot like the site we use for tagging our expenses ( — also super-cool), except for your time instead of your money. It’s nice to see something come out of web 2.0 other than silly useless stuff like drop shadows, gradients, and digg.

yee haw

I’ve just arrived in San Antonio, the second stop on this last trip of the fall. We had a kick-ass time in Ann Arbor. We kicked things off on Friday with a comprehensive walking tour of campus, done in two parts. First, we did central campus, dropped Karen off (sadly, she had to labor feverishly all day to finish a post-doc application), then hit one of Ann Arbor’s 14,000 small markets to pick up some pasture-raised Amish chicken to go with the locally grown vegetables that Ali and Karen had recently bought from “their” farmer. We dropped by the house to give the chicken a luxurious brine bath and hit north campus, where they sequester the engineers.

Ali’s department has a new building, which is made almost entirely of glass and 70″ plasma televisions. Outside, we terrorized passing students with Ali’s $12 remote-controlled airplane, then drove to a mall and bought a matching set of iPhones.

What? Hell yes, we did. Like global warming melting our arctic north, the allure of the glistening Jesus phone has been gently but irreversibly eroding my resistance, which finally collapsed after Leslie played with and was mildly amused by Ali’s iPhone. We marched dutifully into two years shackled to the “new AT&T,” a moniker which to me is an almost too honest acknowledgment of their past and present hegemonies.  But, in truth, the phone does more or less represent the second coming, as evidenced by the sparkle in Leslie’s eyes the first time she checked email in the car and the religious epiphany that accompanies checking in for your flight while drinking hot mulled cider next to an idyllic stream littered with autumn’s gilded leaves. So yeah, they are fun.

That evening, we roasted the chicken, some summer squash, and pan fried a metric ton of Brussels sprouts. Michael Pollan would have be proud. We chased that with beers at the nearby Arbor Brewing Company, then hit the sack.

The next day I slept into the double digits for the first time in years, then hit the climbing gym with Ali whilst the ladies toured Kerrytown. In the afternoon we visited a cider mill, then ate another obscenely delicious meal at Pacific Rim (Karen got the scallops, which I thought were the standout in a crowd of excellent entrees). At home we played some silly card games, watched Ratatouille finally (for me, the movie was a bit of a let down except for this one part where there was a crepe being flipped–the physical accuracy of it was astounding!), then turned in. We awoke this morning and rushed to have breakfast before arriving at the airport an hour early, despite our explicit knowledge that daylight savings was ending.

And now I’m in San Antonio at the historic Menger Hotel, looking “forward” to a week of conferencing the hell out of geometric design.

fall’s last journey

Leslie and I are headed out today to Ann Arbor to visit Ali and Karen–we’ve got all sorts of fun activities planned, which no doubt will yield a nice crop of pictures. This caps off what hopefully will be my busiest TA week as well; I have been trying to get everyone ready to finish their last project and spent a whole night grading midterms. But there are no more projects for them/me to do, and no more tests until the final.

I’ll be heading straight from Ann Arbor to San Antonio for another conference. This one is more math-oriented, but it looks like a good crowd and at least this time I’ll have Jonathan to introduce me to people. I can’t remember the last time I was in SA. I’ll have to find some good BBQ and Mexican.

And, it’s November all of a sudden. Wow. We’ll be staying put this year for Thanksgiving, cooking for ourselves and hopefully for a few friends too. We’re going to try brining the turkey, which if the roast chicken we’ve been making is any indicator should be delish.