The READIN Family Album
Me and Sylvia, on the Potomac (September 2010)


Jeremy's journal

The alternatives are not placid servitude on the one hand and revolt against servitude on the other. There is a third way, chosen by thousands and millions of people every day. It is the way of quietism, of willed obscurity, of inner emigration.

J.M. Coetzee

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Friday, July 28th, 2006

This is exciting: Gary Shteyngart has an op-ed in today's Times.

posted morning of July 28th, 2006: Respond

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

So I found the last hundred pages or so of Bleak House really unsatisfying. The quality which I think had really drawn me in about the rest of the book -- which was the airy, meandering way of storytelling, the tangential ramblings along the various paths of the story which led seemingly by accident to the revelation of some connection, somehow furthering the plot -- disappeared and was replaced by a driving, all-too-visible narrative structure. The last really affecting moment in the story, for me, was the discovery of Lady Dedlock's body. -- And even by then it had lost a lot of what I was reading for.

But the two things which really put me off about the ending were Mr. Jarndyce's bequeathing of Esther unto Allan -- which just took the inhuman quality of their relationship about three steps too far for me -- and the final chapter, in which Esther sounds like a sanctimonious prig.

I liked the resolution of the court case a lot; but the discovery of a new will among Krook's papers really added nothing, really seemed like a lame excuse for a little extra suspense at the end.

posted afternoon of July 23rd, 2006: Respond
➳ More posts about Bleak House

Friday, July 21st, 2006

I realized this morning, why I have such a strong visual picture of Lady Dedlock -- she is the only character in Bleak House who I really feel like I can see her face, or at least for whom the image of her face remains constant. This morning (oddly at the moment when Esther beheld her dead) I figured out the face I am seeing is Margaret Dumont's! And I think she would be a well-cast in the role of Lady Dedlock. Great! Groucho can be John Jarndyce and Chico will shine as George Rouncewell; and Harpo I can see in no other role than that of Dr. Woodcourt. It would be a beautiful movie.

Update: Also, Zeppo as Richard Carstone.

posted morning of July 21st, 2006: Respond
➳ More posts about Charles Dickens

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

At the party last night, Roy reminded me of my initial aim in starting this blog (and this website in general), which was to write about the books I am reading. Well, and, right now I am reading one that I'm finding just lovely, very moving, to wit Dickens' Bleak House.

It is hardly the perfect book I suppose -- I find myself thinking as I read it that there are too many lucky coincidences -- and I think I will notice even more such when I reread it and have the various threads of narrative more firmly in mind. I think that is the principal failing of the story. But with disbelief suspended, what a lovely story it is! The poetry of Dickens' language and the acerbity of his wit make for a world I can spend all day thinking about.

Also: I think the story is very sentimental in places; but it is sentimental in such a way that I respond emotionally, which I am finding pretty unusual. I felt a tear in my eye when Jo was dying -- when I was talking with LizardBreath last night she said she didn't really respond to that, Jo was just the poor orphan who dies, rather than a fully human character; and I could see what she meant, sort of -- but it worked on me. So whatever.

Next up: A White Bear is going to be conducting a discussion of Tristram Shandy. So I will read it! I started to back in 1999, it was the very first book written about on this web site. So here I am full circle! Nice.

posted evening of July 20th, 2006: Respond
➳ More posts about Readings

🦋 Birthday Meetup

Tuesday was Lindsay's birthday (also Roy Edroso's, by coincidence), and yesterday evening, she invited the Blogosphere to hang out with her at the Bohemian Garden in Astoria. Well I went and was very glad I did -- besides Lindsay and Roy, I saw several old friends and met a couple of new ones; including my currently-favorite blogger, A White Bear. Got home a bit too late to be much use today.

posted evening of July 20th, 2006: Respond

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

🦋 OpenSsl Certificate Authority

I've been working on learning OpenSsl, and pursuant to that I needed to figure out how to implement a Certificate Authority. I messed around some, which is included in the OpenSsl distribution; but there is some kind of compatibilityissue with OpenSsl on my school machines. So here is my solution complete with hacks:

  • openssl genrsa -out cakey.pem 2048
    openssl req -new -x509 -key cakey.pem -out cacert.pem -days 1095

    This creates a private key and certificate for the Certificate Authority
  • perl -newca

    I'm just using the functionality in for creating a demoCA directorytree. When prompted, specify that you want to use the cacert.pem you created in the previous step.
  • cp cakey.pem demoCA/private/cakey.pem
    echo 1000 > demoCA/serial

    These are two hacks -- did not copy my cakey.pem into its proper location,and did not create a serial number file in demoCA. The "1000" could be any number.
  • openssl genrsa -out cli.pem 2048
    openssl req -new -key cli.pem -out cli.csr
    openssl ca -in cli.csr -out clicert.pem

    To create a new signed certificate, follow these three steps: first create a privatekey, then create a certificate request, then sign the certificate request.

posted evening of July 18th, 2006: Respond

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

A couple of new pictures in the family album -- long time since I've put any photos up! There is a shot of Sylvia in her costume before her dance recital, and with her class ready for the recital. On the way home we came through Jersey City, and Sylvia and Kaydi found some big chess pieces to play with. On the 4th of July, Sylvia rode in the bike parade, and was proud of her prize ribbon. And here is the writing desk which we built a few posts down.

posted evening of July 6th, 2006: Respond
➳ More posts about the Family Album

🦋 Yowza! Great things are happening!

I do not keep my ear to the ground; so I am late coming up with this. But in case you have not heard the best literary news ever, Thomas Pynchon will be publishing a new novel in December. {!!!) It is confirmed by Penguin, the publisher. Scuttlebutt abounds regarding the plot, setting, size of volume, etc. But more importantly: Hooray!

posted morning of July 6th, 2006: Respond

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

🦋 More carpentry

Today I was working in the shop again and knocked off a one-day project -- this morning Ellen mentioned it would be great if Sylvia had a little portable desk that she could use to write on when she's in bed. Ellen was away all afternoon so I was hanging around the house with Sylvia, and we decided to try our hands at making a desk.

I had a broad board of maple (nearly 12" across) that's been in my wood pile for a long time, that looked like just about exactly the right size. I cut a 16" length for the desk top, and two trapezoidal pieces 8 1/2" long in front and 10 1/2" long in the rear, for the sides. The remainder was about 16" long, and I cut a 2" wide brace off it and a 1/2" wide piece for the front of the desktop.

I shaped the sides as follows: cut them out to look like legs and a rail. Then round over the sides of the legs and bevel the bottom of the "rail". (Sylvia's first time using a spoke shave.) Sand smooth where needed. The desktop should also be beveled on the back and sides.

Now the desk is ready to assemble. I was initially planning to nail it together; but the shortcomings of that plan were quickly revealed when I split one of the side pieces in half driving a nail through it. (Sylvia: "Do we need to start all over again from the beginning?" -- no, just glue it back together and keep going.) We used dowels for the joinery and finished with shellac. Total time from thinking of the design to a usable writing desk was 3 hours, including an extra half hour for letting the repair to the broken piece dry.

posted evening of June 25th, 2006: Respond

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

🦋 Carpentry

I have done some woodworking on and off for about 6 years. Spent a lot of time on (now-defunct) Badger Pond and on WoodCentral's Hand Tool forum. But I am coming gradually to recognize that what I really enjoy is carpentry -- the finesse required for furniture joinery is just frustrating for me, and the finished product never comes out like I want it to.

Today I finished my latest carpentry project, which was a big (approx 2' X 4' X 1 1/2') box for the patio, to keep barbecue supplies in. It is replacing a lidded plastic bin, which worked ok except the top was concave so it collected water every time there was rain and formed a breeding ground for mosquitos. This box has a sloping roof with shingles on it, and should shed water quite well. (It's raining now, so we'll see how it does.)

This is sort of a practice run for a garden shed I want to build later this summer, which will be on essentially the same plan except with a doorway let into the side and of course, without hinges on the roof.

posted evening of June 24th, 2006: Respond

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