January archive

Follow Us on Twitter!

We had some fun today after being snowed in but I also took this time to make some updates to the website. As many of you know, Beth and I love Twitter. The first issues we put into our Bitbucket page was to add hooks to post new blog entries and photo galleries to Twitter (with Bit.ly links of course). Today I'm happy to say I'm closed those issues (at least until Beth tells me it's not good enough). I wasn't easy. Thankfully I setup Fabic earlier in the day to make the deployment easier (Tip of the hat to Kurt and TriZPug for the great talks on Thursday). My commit messages tell the story best:

Bitbucket Screenshot

As you can see things were looking pretty bleak for a while there. I learned a valuable lesson: just because a library says it works in Python 2.5 doesn't mean that it does. However I submitted an issue to Tweepy and it's already been fixed. Anyway for those of you who are still reading this post you can follow our updates on Twitter @BethandMark. And if you don't we'll probably retweet them anyway :) Enjoy!

Posted on January 30, 2010 by Mark | View Comments

New York Day Four: The BK

This was the final day of our NYC trip. The day started out a little slow. Everyone was a little tired, maybe a little hungover from the night before. Still the city calls. Paul and Ali stopped by to see us just before lunch time. I had been craving pizza ever since we got to the city and thankfully Meredith lives close to one of my favorite places in the city: Kornet Pizza. It looks like a total dump but they make a ridiculous 30' pie. One slice is a task to eat. For me and the rest of the crew it was the perfect hangover food. After chatting for a bit, Paul and Ali had to run and we had to start our journey to Brooklyn. This was a trip we had made many times before. This was more like a pilgrimage to pay our respects to two of the greatest places in NYC: Barcade and DuMont.

I had first heard of Barcade from my brother Matt. It sounded too good to be true. A bar with classic arcade games and micro brew beers on tap (at good prices too). Believe it my friend. It not only exists, it is magical. Barcade is a wonderland of beer and video games. It is always a good time and this trip was no different. We opened the bar at 2pm. It was Sunday so we figured we would get and early start and head home early. In no time we were drinking Hop-a-lot-amus on cask and playing Marble Maddness.

When people started to get hungry, we decided it was time for dinner. Just a few doors down is Dumont. They don't have a huge menu but they do a couple things extremely well. One is the DuMont burger but the other is the Dumac & Cheese. Beth and I were both here for the Dumac & Cheese. It is awesome. It's baked and gets a great crust on the top. It was every bit as delicious as I remembered.

Altogether it was a great trip. We got to see a lot of great friends and hit some of our favorite places. Beth and I will alway love our time in New York but moving back was the right decision. After a couple days of running around the city, we were ready to be back in NC.

Posted on January 29, 2010 by Mark | View Comments

New York Day Three: General Hedonism

The one thing hands down we miss about NYC (aside from people we love and care about) is the food. There are just so many great restaurants and little holes in the wall, and of course while living there, we found some favorites. So in true New Yorker fashion, we began our Saturday with brunch, our most favorite meal. We decided to have some home cooking at the cutest little restaurant in Morningside Heights: Kitchenette. It is a tiny shop, like most places in NY, but it is definitely big on taste. I mean, how often do you get the chance to have a Brie and Apple omelette with a side of cheese grits? Not nearly as often as I'd like :)

After brunch, Mark and I did some light shopping between eating :) Next stop was Firehouse for beers, wings, and basketball. It's been a long time since we've just randomly gone to a bar to drink in the afternoon. That something I think we've missed :)

Then, after a little primping, it was time for dinner with Meredith, Eric, and Julie at Essex. The food was delicious. Meredith and I shared the Wasabi Crusted Salmon and the goat cheese stuffed chicken breast. Yummy in my tummy.

After dinner, there was more drinking. At One and One, I got one of my favorite drinks: the unsupported characters, or include a non-local or incorrectly linked interwiki prefix. You may be able to locate the desired page by searching for its name (with interwiki prefix, if any) in the search box.

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and Stormy. If you've never had a Dark and Stormy, put down this post and go get one now. It's like a warm hug in your mouth. Yes, just like that. Our last stop of the night (because I'm old and grumpy and it was past my bedtime) was Fontana's. By that point the hedonism had caught up with us, but boy was it fun :)

Stay tuned for Day Four!

Posted on January 28, 2010 by Beth | View Comments

NC State vs UNC: A Love Story

Today is a tough day for our family. Tonight is the NCSU/UNC basketball game. A game that pits husband against wife. Friends become enemies. There are those that feel that UNC/Duke is a bigger game. They either get all of their sport opinions from ESPN or are not from North Carolina. Let me explain why.

It isn't just about basketball. One because unlike Duke, NC State tries to field a football team each year. But NC State vs UNC is a rivalry that transcends sport. It divides childhood friends and households when choosing colleges. NC State vs UNC is a sibling rivalry and a parent/child rivalry. This is something that Duke vs UNC never will be because people from North Carolina don't go to Duke. Why would they? The UNC system is one of the best and most affordable in the country. Why you would you pay more to go to Duke? The stats back this up.

  • NC State: 84% in-state enrollment
  • UNC: 77% in-state enrollment
  • Duke: 15% in-state enrollment

Not to mention that NC State and UNC boast ~30,000 students while Duke is a sad 13,000. So basically you have 40,000+ people who have grown up their whole life watching NC State and UNC, dreaming of going to one of them someday. They are families, best friends, neighbours, and co-workers. Today is about bragging rights over with your family and closest friends. Compare that when UNC plays Duke. You have the UNC fans who have bleed Carolina blue their whole life and Duke fans who are bunch of trust fund babies from Long Island. Sure it might be of slightly more national importance but that's not what rivalry is about. Today is about my Alma Mater beating my wife's and me rubbing it in her face collapsing hopelessly in the second half and that is why this will always be the biggest rivalry on Tobacco Road I'm going to cry myself to sleep tonight.

Posted on January 26, 2010 by Mark | View Comments

New York Day Two: Former Coworkers

For our first full day in the city, Mark and I went our separate ways to visit with our former coworkers. One of the most surprising things for me is that I walked into Mindshare as a total stranger. I saw remarkably few people that I actually knew or recognized. To say that they've undergone some changes would be an understatement.

Apparently working there wasn't the same without me. I really appreciate the support guys. I knew I could count on you ;)

I did a quick run around the office, scouting out the few left standing, and then we were off to lunch. Mmmm Gari... one of my all-time favorite reps (and a great friend) took a group of us to Sushi of Gari for, you guessed it, sushi. It was an absolutely fantastic meal. I don't think anything will trump it for quite some time. I stuffed myself silly and enjoyed talking a little shop (sorry Meredith). I kind of miss that.

It was over much too soon, but frankly I don't think I could have eaten a single bite more. It was glorious and I certainly won't be forgetting it anytime soon.

Posted on January 25, 2010 by Beth | View Comments

New York Day One: Traveling and Dinner

Mark and I both worked half days on Thursday in order to make our flight to NY at 3:25pm. We were a little concerned about security due to the recent events in air travel, so we made sure to arrive a little earlier than we would usually. This turned out to be totally unnecessary; we had the most uneventful airport experience ever recorded (thanks RDU/JetBlue!). We breezed through security and on top of that, our flight actually arrived early. Yes, that's right, EARLY!

We hopped in a cab and showed up at Meredith's door way ahead of schedule. Thank God she loves us :) After all the hello hugs and gift exchanges (Meredith offered a way to sate our sushi hunger in Raleigh- yay gift card to Sono!), Meredith got to work prepping for dinner. Yes, that's right, our little Meredith, who we fed countless Sundays, has somehow transformed into a domestic diva. Dinner was amazing. She made wine poached flank steak with rice and haricots verts. It was absolutely delicious and I'm amazed at her transformation :)

During/after dinner we drank (if you know us well, this is a huge duh) and watched (500) Days of Summer, which we all loved/hated for its realness. It was a great movie but definitely not a love story in the traditional sense. Which is okay sometimes.

After movie time, Mark so generously handed me off to Meredith for the rest of the night so we could catch up and do what girls do at sleepovers (sorry to disappoint, but it did not involve pillow fights). It was much needed time talking about boys, butterflies, and life in general :)

Day 1: Success

Stay tuned for a recap from Day 2!

Posted on January 25, 2010 by Beth | View Comments

Packing for NY

Tomorrow Beth and I are taking a trip back to NYC. It's the first time back since we moved away in July. It's also going to be the first time we get to see some of our old coworkers since we told them we would rather be unemployed in the worst recession since the Great Depression than work there any longer. Meredith is awesome enough to let us stay with her. It's going to be a whirlwind of catching up, drinking, and eating. If there is one thing (not people) that I miss it's the food. We haven't found any good sushi in Cary. There is nothing like Caracas here either. There is no Super Mac (Dear Super Mac, this website sucks. Did you really have to take the old site down while building a new one? No you didn't. Call me and I will build you a better one if you open up in Cary.) Don't even get me started on all the awesome bars because I could go on all day.

Anyway things might be quiet on the site over the weekend but be on the look out for some stories and some pictures from our trip.

Posted on January 20, 2010 by Mark | View Comments

Playing at Work

Working from home has its perks. There is no commute and pants are more or less optional. Another thing that's nice about working from home is getting to listen to music while I work. Now I could get some nice headphones and play music while working in Carrboro but when you are working closely with people it seems a little rude. When I moved up to NY I fell into a music void. I would listen to music from time to time when I was in grad school but I didn't have any money to buy any new music. I didn't listen really listen to the radio because the only place I would listen to the radio is in the car and I didn't own a car. I haven't bought any music, CD or otherwise, in a long time. The age of downloading music endlessly seems to have passed. The only recent bands I know have songs on video games. I am at a complete loss for cool music. When I wanted to listen to music I would break out Beth's computer. She has similar tastes as me but she doesn't have a big collection. It didn't take long for her music to get as tired as my CD collection. What am I to do to fill these long hours with joyful tunes?

Today I decided to take this problem to the one place that has all the answers, the internet. I had toyed with internet radio before but I was never really happy with it. I figured it was time to take another chance so I signed up for Last.fm. So far I'm not having the same problem that make me hate regular radio: hearing the same song over and over. I am hearing a lot of the same bands but that's not as bad. Still something about it just isn't working for me. I tell it some bands that I like and it plays artists that are similar. Great idea but then I'm just hearing more and more of the same. It doesn't branch out enough for me. Perhaps I could give it more varied artists and it would work out better. What are people doing these days to get their music fix? Has anyone found something that works for them?

Posted on January 18, 2010 by Mark | View Comments

"I will destroy you miles..."

Mark and I are planning to run the Tobacco Road Half Marathon (if we ever actually sign up!) in mid March. It seemed like perfect timing at first. You know, since it's before it gets unbearably hot and all. One key thing I didn't think through was the training (you know, a tiny, insignificant thing). A March race means training throughout the rest of winter. In the cold. And the dark. And did I mention the cold? Not good planning.

So I've had a terrible (even awful) time trying to make myself face the low temps, winter "breezes", and depressing lack of sunshine in order to log enough miles to be able to even attempt completing the half. I admit, I'm a total wuss (thanks Mark). I'm rarely able to talk myself into willingly subjecting myself to the numbing cold in order to get in a run.

However today was a different story. The weather is AMAZING and Mark and I totally took advantage of it. Who thought I'd ever get so excited about upper 50s? Anyway, Mark and I had a nice 4 mile run around the neighborhood, and I didn't die, though I was pretty certain I would a couple of times. And on top of that, my Nike+ actually recorded closer to right (meaning it gave me an extra half mile instead of grossly underrecording - score!) so all in all, a pretty successful run.

Now if only the rest of the winter would give me temps like this...

Posted on January 16, 2010 by Beth | View Comments

Winter Running Terror

Winter sucks and let me tell you why. First it's cold. Everybody knows that I'm sure. But more than just cold, it gets dark early. Put these two together and you have the perfect combination of reasons why I don't feel like running before or after work. But this past Tuesday I decided I was going to run. I rushed out of work to get home, changed, and I was out the door. (As a side note Beth was supposed to run with me but she's a wuss.) And so begins my story...

I was out to run a nice little loop around the block which is about 3.5 miles. It was a little before 6 so not yet dark but getting there. Worried that all of my cold running gear was black, I was a little jumpy every time a car would go by. I had on my new heart rate monitor and it didn't take long for me to start pushing the top of target range. Freezing and terrified I pushed on. About half way through my run I came to a particularly long stretch with no street lights. Off to my left I heard a rustling. First off, I cannot stand dogs. Beth and I have had a few encounters before with dogs without fences (invisible or otherwise) in that area. My biggest fear was this rustling would be a giant dog that was going to jump on me. As I ran on I heard more rustling in the trees. No barking. Maybe it wasn't a dog. Maybe it's a velociraptor. It was too dark to read my heart monitor, but I can only assume it was about to explode.

Up ahead I heard a car coming towards me. Would it get there in time to saving me from the all but sure death of the raptor attack? Would it save me from the raptor but run me over because it couldn't see me in all black? Again the rustling! It was just on the other side of the street. There was a golf cart path. I could cut across and over the bridge home. It would be faster than turning back. No and instead I pushed on. The rustling was now behind me and the car was approaching. I turned to glance behind me and in the headlights of the car I saw it...some stupid kid in a black hoodie running through people's yards. You stupid punk kids with your black hoodies and your rock and roll music. My heart would never recover. I raced home with my heart rate pushing 200 bpm.

I can't wait for winter to end so I can run in the light of day again. Also whose genius idea was it to make most running pants black?

Posted on January 16, 2010 by Mark | View Comments

Honey Do List

The website has been up less than a week but so far it's been good. In the spirit of Agile I wanted to get the site up with a minimal number of features, start playing with it, and see what would be fun to add. Beth and I both have fun ideas for what we would like to do and dreams of what could make this a really fun site and not just another blog. I mentioned in the first post that I was hosting the source code on Bitbucket. They have a nice integrated issue tracker which is nice for some simple project management. Little did I know the monster that would create. Enter my wife Beth, my project manager. She signed up for her own Bitbucket account so she could use the issue tracker. If something doesn't work the way she wants she has a new threat "If you don't fix it now then I'll just put in a issue and assign it to you." She called it a dorky honey do list. I don't mind that much. It's hard to keep up with all the little problems that might come up. I don't always have time to fix things the same day. It will give me a nice set of things to work on every weekend. Now if I just teach her to use Mercurial maybe I can assign some bugs to her.

Posted on January 14, 2010 by Mark | View Comments

Re-officially a bonafide North Carolinian

Today I took a little trip to the happiest place on earth: the NC DMV.

I'd been putting it off for months and months (and months). I was dreading getting an NC license even before moving last July. Why you ask? Well, that's because in order to get an NC driver's license, one must pass a written exam chock full of the most inane questions imaginable (if you are interested just look at the sample test). Est no bueno.

So today I decide once and for all to bite the bullet and just go get it done during lunch. I gathered up my NY license, passport, proof of insurance, proof of address and SS card (I of course forgot the last piece at home and had to go get it before heading to the DMV... thanks for the sandwich Mark). Documents in hand I go up to the desk and lay them all out. On a whim I mentioned to the front desk person, "Oh, I doubt this will help, but I actually have my old NC license." She looked at me and smiled (yes, some DMV workers are actually capable of a facial expression other than a scowl). "Honey, this license expired less than a year ago. You can just get it renewed." Baffled I asked "Does this mean I don't have to take the test?" She just looked at me and nodded. Then I fought back the urge to jump across the counter and bear hug this woman; I had to settle for a little happy dance instead.

I took my number and sat down. Then I realized, "Crap, the old license is in my maiden name (also including my original first name) and my NY license is in my married name." Sure enough, I needed some sort of documentation for the name change. I then had to make a tough decision: go home AGAIN and get my name change document or stay and take the test as a New Yorker.

So... I went home and got the documentation. What can I say, I'm a wuss (just ask Mark). Mark had the documents waiting for me, I grabbed them and drove like a crazy person back to the DMV. Huffing, I threw my documents up on the desk. Within 15 minutes I was the proud owner of a temporary NC license. Totally worth it.

Now Mark is calling me a cheater... he's just jealous because he actually has to take that stupid test ;)

Posted on January 13, 2010 by Beth | View Comments

First photo gallery is up!

Woohoo! Mark is still making a few tweaks, but for the most part, I think it's super awesome :) So if you would like a little (okay, long) refresher of how that magical day went, check out our Wedding Gallery here.

This is just the first of many photos to be added so stay tuned!

Posted on January 11, 2010 by Beth | View Comments

Can't let Mark be the only Chatty Cathy..

It's been a long time since I first brought up the idea that Mark and I should have a site to document our lives. Now we're finally doing it... with style ;) When I say "I came up with the idea" I really mean I was just jealous of Erin and Matt's awesome site (referenced in Mark's first blog post).

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm super excited about this. I hope that, through this site, we're able to keep in touch with both friends and family a little more than we have in the past. We're pretty terrible at that so hold us accountable! And I promise I won't get angry at nagging mail asking us why we haven't posted in a month...

So here's to the beginning!

Posted on January 10, 2010 by Beth | View Comments

Girls Think Django is Sexy

I love Gmail. The interface is great and the spam filter is usually perfect. The past couple days thought it's let a few through that I was surprised about. First I got a fun message saying:

You have just been awarded 500,000 GBP in the Online UK award,send details for claim
Names..
Occupation..
Country..
Age..

It's really not revealing that much information and 500,000 pounds is a lot of money. I was actually tempted to respond. I got even better ones today though but first a little back story.

Recently I've been building websites in Django with some awesome guys in Caktus Consulting Group in Carrboro. They are awesome for a couple reasons but a big one is that they believe in contributing back to the open source tools they like to use. Back in December they helped sponsor a Django sprint. It was a blast. It was my first experience contributing to a large open source project. Coming into it I didn't think I would be able to do much but I was able to help close a couple tickets. My favorite being #12146 (You're welcome Canada). Thanks to all of this work/fun I was able to get my name added to the Django authors file which includes my email. What does this have to do with Gmail spam? Well nothing until this morning when I received two identical emails from "lona johnson".

Hello my dear,
My name is lona,i saw your contact today at (code.djangoproject.com) and became interested in you,i will also like to know you the more,and i want you to send an email to my email address so i can give you my picture for you to know whom i am.I believe we can move from here! (Remeber the distance or colour does not matter but love matters alot in life)Thanks.
Yours,
lona.
my email address is;

johnsonlona57@yahoo.fr
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The message is repeated in Spanish under that. First off, I could understand if she was Canadian and was really excited about the postal code validation. Who wouldn't be? Also she sounds hot. I wish she had included the pics in the original email. I want to write her back and find out exactly what it is about Django that has got her so interested in me but I think Beth would get mad. Hopefully Gmail can figure out why this spam is getting through or maybe the spammers will at least start including some pics.

Posted on January 10, 2010 by Mark | View Comments

The Site is Up

It's been a little less than a year since I started playing around with Django. It's been a little over a month since I stopped playing and starting working as a web developer. It's about time that I got this site up and running. Matt and Erin have had a great site for years. Now it's time for me and Beth. What would I like to see on this site? I would like this to be the greatest site ever created with Django. I'll settle for something that's simple and lets Beth show off whatever it is she wants to show off.

On a dorkier note for those that might be interested you can check out the site's source code on Bitbucket: http://bitbucket.org/mlavin/personal/overview/ You can also see a list of projects that I'm using on the About page.

Posted on January 10, 2010 by Mark | View Comments