Go forward in time to May 2003.
We have airplane tickets for GUADEC! We'll be wandering around London for four days before the conference, so this promises to be a great trip.
We took Metro line 7 to Polanco because traffic was impossibly busy today; line 3 had broken down and the whole city was pretty chaotic. It was a surprisingly short trip, much shorter than if we had used the car. I love using public transportation; the trouble with the Metro in Mexico City is that the city is so large that stations are very far away from each other and many places are just not within walking distance of them.
Oralia made the most delicious cabbage soup ever. We added lime juice with diced habanero peppers, and it was fantastic.
My bicycle is out of the repair shop! Tomorrow is International Labor Day, so we'll take our bikes to ride around campus. It is one of the more bike-friendly places in Mexico City; the rest is full of completely insane drivers. We have just been riding around the park near our house but it feels too small and contrived.
The dentist has started to work on my mouth's upper right back side. I need another pair of porcelain crowns, ugh. I seem to have inherited a bad set of teeth from my mother.
Happy children's day!
Photo by Oralia:
Last Saturday we made tamales in preparation for Oralia's birthday, which was on Sunday. In the morning we went to her parents' house, as her mother had already got corn leaves and mole paste for us. We had milkshakes in the marketplace and got some extra ingredients we needed.
We went back home and started making the tamales. First you soak the corn leaves in water and leave them for a few hours:
Meanwhile, we started to make the fillings for the tamales. We would be making sweet ones with pineapple and strawberry flavor plus raisins. The salted ones were pollo en mole, pollo en salsa verde, and rajas con queso:
The next step was making the dough. It needs a large proportion of lard:
You make the lard smooth and then you mix in the corn flour and chicken broth. Mix, knead:
I bet you never thought I looked so sexy in an apron. We let the dough rest for about two hours, and then we wrapped the tamales. The sweet ones and the green and rajas tamales went into corn leaves, and the mole ones into banana leaves:
We wrapped 90 tamales in total. These are the salted ones:
Here are some of them on the steamer, prior to cooking:
Total preparation time was about six hours. We were pretty tired by the time we finished.
On Sunday we had Oralia's parents for lunch. The tamales were very good! I gave Oralia a bicycle as a present, as she had never had one and wanted to learn how to ride. After lunch we went to the park near our house so that she could give it a try. She learned quite quickly:
My mother and grandmother came to our house in the evening and they also enjoyed the tamales; we called my brother, who is in Ensenada, because it was his birthday as well. In the end we went to bed pretty exhausted, but it was worth it.
Today the dentist put two porcelain crowns on my upper left molars. They feel weird but I'll get used to them in a couple of days, just as it happened for the temporary plastic ones. What irks me is that the dentist will un-seat the crowns in a couple of weeks, check the temporary glue/cement thing to see whether there are any fissures, and only put in the permanent glue/cement thing if everything is okay. It's not a lengthy procedure, but your whole skull goes click when the crowns snap into place...
The dentist told me about her Easter trip to Belize, and now I want to go there.
Spiderweb in Cuernavaca:
I hate GtkFileSelection. I really hate the filename completion code in GtkFileSelection. I really really hate having to support deprecated code that needs to exist until something that depends on it gets upgraded to use non-deprecated stuff.
Chema and I took some digital photos to a little shop near the office that makes big plotter prints or smaller prints on photographic paper. They changed the aspect ratio of my pictures in an odd way and the gamma is off, but those seem like fixable things — I asked them to re-print the photos that I took. The quality is pretty good, anyways, and it's nice to have tangible paper prints.
In the evening we went to watch Solaris. I haven't seen the original, but this one was quite good.
Long weekend due to Easter holidays. On Thursday we went to watch Far From Heaven, a fantastic movie. Unfortunately they were only showing it in the artsy-fartsy movie house in Polanco where the rich types go and never stop talking; the whole audience was terrible. At some other point over the last week we also saw La Répétition, but it was incredibly lousy — bad acting, bad photography, bad music, bad plot, bad everything.
For some strange reason a local bookshop started bringing region 2 PAL DVDs. Mexico is region 4, NTSC. They are selling them for under half the price of normal DVDs. We found out that out DVD player just needs a special switch to play PAL DVDs, so we got Requiem for a Dream to test it. It works just fine, so we'll be getting more cheap movies shortly.
On Friday, after a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs with tarragon in salsa verde, we went to my father's house in Cuernavaca. Georgette, the stray kitten that we found last April, has grown a lot:
We had a delicious and way too big dinner at Marco Polo, our favorite Italian restaurant in Cuernavaca. We sat on the balcony that overlooks the cathedral, and at some point the huge yellow moon rose over one of the small churches next to the cathedral. Oralia took some pictures:
My dad and his wife had guests over the weekend and all the beds in the house were occupied, so we took our sleeping bags and slept outdoors on the huge trampoline in the lawn. It was comfortable except for the mosquitoes.
On Saturday I went bicycling with my dad around Cuernavaca's hills. I'm rather out of shape these days, so I was using the lower gears too much...
Yesterday morning we came back from Cuernavaca and went to Coyoacán for breakfast. We got a few books as well, and went to visit Oralia's parents afterwards. Oralia's mother got me a pair of huaraches from Oaxaca, or leather sandals, and they are really comfortable and fresh. In the afternoon we went to visit my grandmother's sisters, and I took a bunch of pictures of them talking. I want to make some sort of small documentary on them during the last years of their lives.
There is nothing more egregious than a library being burned down. This is one of the saddest things to have happened in the war.
Phew. The bug where Metacity would not repaint window frames at all was actually the fault of my patch to pay attention to VisiblityNotify events. It was not taking into account foreign windows, so a) they always started with the fully_obscured flag turned on, and b) the flag was never cleared because the event mask for foreign windows was never modified to include VisibilityChangeMask.
Had a nice lunch with my dad, and we talked about lots of things. I was a bit uncomfortable about some disagreements we had; my dad reassured me by explaining why they are not so.
Last night we went to watch Punch Drunk Love, a weird movie that leaves you freaked out in a good way. The music is fantastic, a cross between Edgar Varese and Radio Tarifa.
However, the theatres have recently been having a really annoying problem. The top part of the screen will be out of focus but the bottom part will be in focus, like if the lens in a view camera were slightly tilted. Supposedly the projectors are really exotic and the lenses are expensive; you'd think that they would be able to fix them immediately. The whole movie was like that even though I asked the theater attendants to fix it, twice.
From today's newspaper:
Metacity has stopped painting my window frames; now they are all just the GTK+ background color. The frame buttons still work, however, but you have to guess where they are. Changing themes does not help.
Maybe we have entered a new era in user interface minimalism.
A few days ago I developed two rolls from last August and September. They are still hanging from the makeshift clothesline in our study room, more than dry enough now and likely getting dusty. I have been too lazy to take them down, cut them up and scan them. I miscalculated the time and slightly overdeveloped them; maybe that's why I have been reluctant to look at them.
We got another letter from my brother, and he has a chilling story of the troublesome birth of a girl whose neck was being strangled by her own umbilical cord. Pediatrics ward certainly sounds like a tough job.
On Friday we had Luis Javier over for lunch. He told us about his PhD-in-progress adventures in England, how it sucks to be on a small scholarship in U.S. dollars when the dollar is tanking, and how some Britons can be really square-minded sometimes — at least when compared to disorganized but ever ad-hoc Mexicans. He also brought us a packet of powdered mustard! It is really good to see him again.
We watched Gandhi over the weekend. What a masterpiece.
Today Oralia made sopa de nopales and baked salmon for lunch. It was really delicious. We have been using the juice of preserved habanero peppers to spice things up, and it goes great with the soup. We also made a combination of papaya and orange juice, which was great for a change.
I have started reading a Spanish translation of Elias Canetti's Die Gerettete Zunge. I'm only on page seven and it already has material for plenty of thought.
Last week I finished reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. It is good; not as good as Idoru and definitely not as good as Neuromancer. As far as I know All Tomorrow's Parties is the first book Gibson wrote after becoming a Net citizen, and since then it really seems like he has been amassing a large collection of clichés that sometimes trickle down into his books — they bothered me a lot in ATP, but not really in PR. In comparison, his previous books were delightfully original. I still love the way he creates an atmosphere and the oh-so-tactile descriptions of delicate mechanical devices. When I read his description of how turning the crank on one of the Curtas is like winding a fine camera, I got all tingly inside.
Peter Arnett won the Pulitzer prize as an AP journalist in Vietnam in 1966. Then he gave great reportage from Baghdad on the Gulf War. In 1999 he was fired from CNN due to pressure from the Pentagon for reporting on the use of sarin gas to kill U.S. soldiers who defected from Vietnam into Laos. Now Peter Arnett has been fired again, this time from NBC and National Geographic Explorer, for giving an interview to Iraqui TV and saying that the U.S. strategy did not take into account the resistance they would meet in Iraq. Now he tells his story (he has been just hired by the Mirror).
Last Thursday we went to Casa Lamm, an art gallery and bookstore to which we had never gone before. It is full of obnoxious yuppies who fortunately go past the bookstore as fast as they can to confine themselves in the posh restaurant in the back. But the bookstore is great; very comfortable, with a good selection of books, even books in English and French, which are hard to find in Mexico City. We got several books, including one with the great title of Cubism, Stieglitz, and the Early Poetry of William Carlos Williams.
Oralia gave me a new watch! I'm thrilled.
Go backward in time to March 2003.Federico Mena-Quintero <firstname.lastname@example.org> Wed 2003/Jun/25 13:20:09 CDT