Forward References

One of the many interesting things about IJ, at least to me, was its use of forward references in the endnotes. E.g., endnote #45, which reads “See Note 304 sub.” Actually I think there are a few like this. When I came across endnote #45 I actually didn’t skip forward to the forward-referenced note, since I thought, wait, 304 > 45, so WTF? Is this a trick? Why not just reverse the ordering and make 45 the long essay on Québécois separatism? It wasn’t until I read this note on Infinite Zombies which references that essay that I thought it was OK to go ahead and move forward and read it. Which I did.

Taking that as loose inspiration I want to toss in a few forward references of my own, since I find that my ability to come up with good subjects for blog posts outpaces my ability to write them. So here are things that I have been mulling about and hope will come out in these pages soon:

  • I’d like to do a series of posts based on a long conversation I had with Christoph Freytag while he was visiting us at SEAS. It was several days after I had presented some ongoing work at our weekly group meeting and we had a great, wide-ranging chat that touched on a large number of things: life, research, mentoring, etc. The parts I’d like to cover here — assuming I can get his permission to do so — were a series of observation he made of the sensor network field at large as a sage, external reviewer. I’ll get in touch with him and see what he thinks about me stealing some of his thunder here.
  • After HotOS’09 I’ve had a few posts bouncing around, including one on anonymity in reviewing[1. Which was re-invigorated by a strange path of link-clinking which lead me, IIRC, from something about IJ to this post on Planned Obsolescence, which deals with anonymous reviewing and quotes this piece from InsideHigherEd.com. Anyway, these thoughts lined up very well with my own and this post is actually already in the draft stage.], another on the aesthetics of computer systems design, and a third — already covered here — on an idea to increase the sustainability of computer science conferences.
  • Along those lines, I have another idea on improving the related work section of peer-reviewed papers, similar but not identical to the “novelty timeout” I proposed here.
  • I wanted to offer another perspective on the Vanity Fair article on Harvard that Professor Mitzenmacher[2. Clicker beware: Professor Mitzenmacher's homepage at present contains a massive unscaled image that caused my browser to lock up for ~60 seconds.] has already discussed in this post on his blog. I actually found the article and it’s tone extremely frustrating and wanted to assess it even before Professor Mitzenmacher beat me to it.
  • I have a bit of musing to do about my own approach to computer science research, motivated by the realization that I don’t enjoy writing computer code as much as colleagues and how that changes my approach to building systems. It’s also an excuse to connect with a great quote from a wonderful poem called “Top Story” by Mark Yakich[3. Who's married, in fact, to the sister of a friend of mine from college, which is how I learned of and acquired the excellent volume Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross. To confess fully, I actually (accidentally) lifted my copy from my friend's parents' home several years ago. I'm considering sending them one but I'm guessing they've acquired another already.]:
    …They say, you must not force sex
    to do the work of love or love to do
    the work of sex, but I’m not completely convinced.
    I mean, something has got to work somewhere,

    even if in reverse…

    Have I given the whole post away already? Probably not.

  • I wanted to review the movie (500) Days of Summer, which Suzanna and I saw yesterday on our six-month anniversary (!).
  • I obviously need to write the second half of this post, which really should be the next order of business, but which is frustrating and sad and head-of-the-line-blocking and preventing all the other wonderfulness above from getting done.
  • Finally, I wanted to write a Google fanboy post now that they’ve activated my Google Voice subscription. I’ve also been thinking a lot recently about facebook.com and their sequestering of information, but I need to make sure I have all the details before I wade into something like this.[4. Unusual for me, I know.]

So now that I’ve forward-referenced these topics I have the incentive to follow through, to make sure that the references aren’t broken, forever dangling sadly in space, pointing at nothing…

Yelp-ing

I have joined yelp.com. God help us. So far my reviews have been confined to bitches (1, 2) and stars, but hey, maybe I’ll develop some range someday.

Velouria Espresso, Jamaica Plain; Petit Robert Bistro, South End; The Upper Crust, Coolidge Corner

So I put this aside for a few days, which became a few weeks, but I want to finish it assuming I have some recollection of the events left. We’ll see…

Yesterday Suz and I had a lovely, lazy day filled with wandering around Boston poking around neighborhoods we don’t usually visit and testing out some recommended spots. After a lovely morning spent sampling single-cup-brewed coffee at Velouria Espresso in Jamaica Plain, we zoomed down to the South End for lunch at Petit Robert Bistro. After taking in “There Will Be Blood” at the Coolidge Corner Theater, we grabbed a late dinner at Upper Crust right next door. Not trying to make this overly lengthy, so I’ll break it up and offer brief thoughts on each:

  • Velouria Espresso: probably an easier reach from the Jackson Square Orange Line stop rather than the Green St. one that I usually take to reach Coolidge Corner, Suz and I were sort of surprised to find it there in the first place and quiet at the mid-morning hour when we finally arrived. We had looked the place up after reading this article in the New York Times describing a new pair of high-end single-cup coffeemakers. Since the siphon bar featured in the article is only available in the states in San Francisco, we managed to locate the second most-expensive coffee maker: the Clover, an $11,000 single-cup coffeemaker designed by a set of Stanford graduate students.
    We trekked out to Velouria and found it pretty sleepy on a Saturday morning. The menu features a tasting of all five Clover-brewed coffees that they were offering, which we tried and greatly enjoyed. The owner was nice and attentive with the timing of each cup as we sat and mulled over the paper. I must say thought that while we were there we didn’t see a single other person order anything from this magical machine until about five minutes before we left. The owner also got a bit defensive when we ooed and ahhed over the machine and its price tag and insisting on quoting the prices of everything else in sight (although I’ll admit I was surprised about by how much an industrial washing machine costs). All in all this was a lot of fun and a place worth visiting.
    (In the weeks since this visit our local Starbucks has been experimenting with a Clover in their store. Albeit, I’m wary about visiting Starbucks in general, but if the Clover moves in to stay it may provide a reason to visit periodically)
  • Petit Robert Bistro: a recommendation from my friend Alex, a nice little French place in the South End. Excellent food, reasonably priced, and very, very French. French menus, French stuff on the walls, about the only thing thankfully not traditionally French (or French stereotyped) was the service. We definitely enjoyed.
  • Upper Crust: admittedly I’m not sure how much of an appetite we had after watching “There Could Be Blood”, but it wasn’t completely wasted on the Upper Crust. Decent pizza, nothing completely earth-shattering, but it filled us up. Worth a trip.

The Righteous Path

Thank God for KEXP, possibly the world’s best radio station. Listening via internet radio (me and my friend in Belgium, both!) yesterday I heard an advance single from the upcoming album by Drive By Truckers, “The Righteous Path”. I’ve always confessed to being a sucker for slide guitars, but this track’s heavy driving beat pulls you right through the even heavier lyrics like a pickup laboring through a heavy rainstorm. There’s a beauty and a tragedy to it that emerges right from the soggy ground warming after the rain ends, and if you can bear the smell you keep your head up and move forward. Hopefully the rest of the album is this beautiful.