Thursday, April 29, 2004

Gmail Update

If anybody reading this (whom I know) wants a chance to use Gmail, I have two "invitations" I can pass along. Drop me an e-mail.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


Well, I've been using Gmail, Google's much-talked about new mail service, for a week or so now. Those of you who know me should know my "main" e-mail address, which I never publish anywhere, and never give to anybody but an actual human being. I have a couple of secondary e-mail addresses, which I feel free to ditch when I get too much spam. I recently got rid of My main two other addresses are at and I was intrigued, however, by Google's new e-mail service, so I thought I'd try it out. I was offered a chance to beta-test it, as a Blogger user, so I gave it a shot.

The 1 GB of space is nice. "You are currently using 0 MB (0%) of your 1000 MB." The main cool feature, though, is how fast it is. They use Javascript in a very creative way...basically, they load a whole bunch of information in your browser. Then when you click on an action, rather than contacting the server, they just re-write the page locally. Want to reply to something? Until you're ready to send, you don't actually need to talk to Google's computers at all. Opening a reply window can be done on your own computer.

I haven't really noticed the controversial context-sensitive ads. Well, in one case, they were, let's say, insensitive. I forwarded my work e-mail (whoops, there's another address) to gmail, and it placed ads on an e-mail a co-worker had sent expressing gratitude for the sympathy she had received on the death of her mother-in-law. That's not bad, in and of itself, except the ads were for "humorous greeting cards for all occasions." Oops. Looking closer, she had started her message with the salutation, "Greetings," which was presumably what the ad-bot keyed in on.

Well, I'm sufficiently happy with Gmail to give it a whirl as the e-mail of choice on that sidebar to the right. Of course, I'm obfuscating the address like I mentioned last year. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Haiku Tunnel

Last week we watched the movie Haiku Tunnel, which was recommended to us by Jon Kochavi last August. We put it on the TiVo wishlist, and it finally came up recently. It's sort of an "independent film" version of Office Space.

It's the story of Jacob Kornbluth (which is the actual name of the guy who starred in, wrote, directed and produced the movie), who temps as a legal secretary. When he "goes perm", he loses his motivation and starts to work on his novel rather than sending out some letters for a lawyer.

Since Christina has worked as a legal secretary, temped, and is working on a novel, she found a lot of familiar things in the movie. She often asked me to pause the movie so she could provide detail about the realism of the story. (Though it gets fairly ridiculous at the end.)

Anyway, in the unlikely event that you come across this film (say, on IFC), it's worth checking out.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Carmenere Update

Well, we ended up opening the Carmenere last night. One of the reasons we chose it was to go with the chicken we were having -- the label mentioned poultry as one of the foods with which it paired well. Indeed, although it was similar to a merlot, it was a much lighter wine. Christina, who prefers lighter wines, particuarly enjoyed it.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Wine at the Piggly Wiggly

Last weekend, when I was in Charleston for a math conference, I stopped by the grocery store to get some Diet Cheerwine. Imagine my surprise to find out that the Piggly Wiggly had a fairly decent wine selection.

Christina and I had seen it suggested on TV that grocery stores were good places to get wine bargains. Due to Maryland's liquor laws, it's rare to find a grocery store that sells wine in Maryland. I believe the law is that a corporation may only have one liquor license per county. In particular, there is one branch of Giant Food not too far from here that sells beer and wine. It's on my way home from work, but I never stop there -- they don't have an automated checkout, so it's actually faster to go out of my way to a different store.

We went there a couple of weeks ago, and the selection wasn't great. The few interesting selections were things we could get more cheaply at Corridor Fine Wine in Laurel.

The Piggly Wiggly, however, was a different story. I was looking for something to bring back to Christina, so I selected the Carmen Carmenere. As we had seen on another TV show, the Carmenere grape had disappeared from the vineyards of Bordeaux over a century ago. It was recently rediscovered in Chile, where it had incorrectly been labeled as Merlot. We're looking forward to trying it.