Jun. 3rd, 2016 03:05 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
My niece M is the youngest of my five niblings. She and I hadn't had much to do with one another until a couple of years ago, when chance gave us an opportunity for a longish conversation. Last year, at Christmastime, we got into a discussion of movies; she told me that she liked old-style black and white movies, and I offered to give her some recommendations. I finally had time to draw them up a couple of weeks ago, and sent her (in two installments) a list of twenty-five of my favorite movies from the thirties and forties. (I said "my favorites"; I'm not sure I was entirely accurate in that - there were several late deletions and replacements - but they're certainly among my favorites.) For whoever's interested, the list is under the cut, in chronological order.
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
The Thin Man (1934)
It Happened One Night (1934)
Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
Stage Door (1937)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Ninotchka (1939)
The Great Dictator (1940)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
His Girl Friday (1940)
Fantasia (1940)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Ball of Fire (1941)
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941)
To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Casablanca (1942)
Double Indemnity (1944)
To Have and Have Not (1944)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Notorious (1946)
Key Largo (1948)
North by Northwest (1949)
White Heat (1949)
Adam's Rib (1949)
The alert might claim an excess of Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, and Cary Grant; I reject the very concept.

ETA: Apparently I can't distinguish the "cut" button from the "blockquote" button, if I'm not paying enough attention.


Jan. 9th, 2015 02:15 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
There really isn't a whole lot to say about my California trip. There was the big family get-together on the 20th - a feast, the lighting of the Advent wreath, and the drawing of gift cards (I got one for Olive Garden). There were several smaller gatherings: Christmas Eve with E and her husband, an early birthday dinner at C's, a less-early birthday dinner with E and her husband at Islands, and an actual on-the-day birthday meal at IHOP with my brother. D and I went to several movies - "Interstellar" (decently entertaining, and not too much technobabble); "Into the Woods" (modestly interesting until the sharp left turn at the beginning of Act II, which moved it from "interesting" to "powerful"); and "Night at the Museum 3" (amusing, and melancholy in the closing scenes, as "Teddy Roosevelt" - Robin Williams - said goodbye to the museum guard). I did make one trip to B&N, but didn't buy much - two cookbooks (another slow cooker book, and The Ultimate Soup Bible), a book on Spartacus's rebellion, another Patricia Briggs novel, and an anthology of urban fantasy shorts, by, among others, Butcher, Briggs, Beagle, and Crowley.

I raced through a series of books on Kindle, bringing my total for the year to 80, my lowest total in several years. Notable among these last few were Roald Amundsen's account of his expedition to the South Pole (surprisingly entertaining), a set of papers by Alfred Russell Wallace on natural selection, some classics I'd never read (Peter Pan, Treasure Island, The Island of Dr. Moreau), Elizabeth Gaskell's charming Cranford, and Walter Jon Williams' The Praxis - I'll definitely continue reading that series. I also finished the Palliser novels and reread The Stars My Destination.

My research on polygons progressed a little, more in the way of noticing new avenues of exploration than in new results. I do know quite a bit more about hexagons than I did when I left for break.

Oh, and I found out that the ear trouble I've been having wasn't an infection after all; a good professional-level lavage in both ears was all that was necessary. (TMI?) At any rate, I have full hearing in both ears again - a great relief.

And Monday it's back to work....


Jun. 6th, 2014 08:03 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
My father wasn't involved in the Normandy invasion; he served in the Pacific theater. Nor, of course, was he British. Still, I could see him doing this.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
I am extremely depressed about the Padres so far this season. Injuries to too many pitchers, Mendoza-line performances by half the starting lineup, Cabrera losing his stolen-base touch, Stults losing his pitching touch, Gyorko losing everything....

I wasn't familiar with John Mellencamp before buying his Life Death Love Freedom album - I knew "Jack and Diane", but that's about it - but I like what I hear on that album. He's pretty grim, mostly, ranging from somber ("Troubled Land") through creepy ("County Fair") to angry ("Jena"), but it seems solid, grounded, sincere - something in that area. It'd be a monotonous diet if taken by itself, but it provides an excellent flavor to a varied playlist.

I've just about finished the course of ulcer medication they prescribed, so it's about time I got in touch with the GI doctor to set up another appointment. They'll shove another camera down my throat, and a colonoscopy is probably on the menu now or soon. Not an appealing prospect.

My sister C will be in town next week; we'll be going out to eat on Monday.

I dunno. There are things I should be happy about, but overall my mood lately is on the dour side. Gotta work through it anyway; there are things that need doing.


May. 9th, 2014 11:56 am
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
It's been more than twenty years, but I still cringe as Mother's Day approaches, knowing how many e-mail messages referencing that day - one I can no longer celebrate - I will receive.


Jan. 22nd, 2014 07:21 pm
stoutfellow: (Winter)
Today, for a while, I was being pestered by Bread's "Everything I Own".

Not a song I would have chosen, just at present.
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
My father died yesterday.

It was the day of the family Christmas get-together. D and I were sitting with him, in his room at the home. His breathing was labored, as it had been the day before... until suddenly it ceased, and he lost consciousness. The staff supplied him with oxygen and called 9-1-1; we rushed him to the nearest hospital. To no avail; he passed away some six hours later, without regaining consciousness.

The get-together went on. For the first time in several years, the whole clan (save one) was present, three generations - there had been four. For the youngest generation, a party; for the older two, something of a wake. Tears, embraces, twisted smiles, solemn words, memories - and the children, whom he loved and who loved him. The clan persists, without its patriarch; it even thrives.

We go on.


I have been haunted for years by the last verse of "The Living Years": I wasn't there that morning / when my father passed away. I take some small solace in the fact that that did not come true.


Piotr, sneering: Your father is dead!
Cordelia, defiant: Not while I live, and remember!
[Lois McMaster Bujold, Barrayar]
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I was in California for just over three weeks; with the exception of the flu minidemic - a week or so - events went pretty much as planned. I was able to spend time with each of my sisters and their families at least twice; I was staying with my brother D, so I saw plenty enough of him; and, again except for that one week, I saw Dad pretty much every day.

He's... faded. His hearing is mostly gone, and he has trouble with communicating, in both directions. This frustrates him, and so many of the automatic reactions to his stumbling speech are exactly wrong.... He's more emotionally open than he used to be, especially if he doesn't get his afternoon nap. But when he's lucid, which is most of the time AFAICT, I can still see the man I used to know in there. There are still things he enjoys: watching football and golf on TV (with amplifying headphones overcoming his near-deafness), candy (which we give him plenty of; what's it going to do, rot his tooth?), and just being around his family. The staff at the home seems capable (and they've got good cooks, among other things), and the other residents are friendly.

We did get him out of the home once, taking him up to C's place for dinner on the second. C and her husband fixed a meal suited to his unidental condition: flaky salmon, sweet potatoes, and some well-cooked vegetables, all of which were delicious. C also supplied a carrot cake in honor of my birthday (two days in the future, but wotthehell); this she had to cut carefully for Dad, because there were nuts in it. He loved the meal; I don't recall seeing him eat that much at one sitting in a long time.

He's ninety-three, and there's no knowing how much time he has left. I can't get out there very often, but I'm glad I had this opportunity to see him, and I'm looking forward to the next planned get-together in June - a combined celebration of his birthday and Father's Day.


Dec. 25th, 2012 04:34 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
Having survived the flu, I got three consecutive days of health before coming down with a cold.

I'm not too fussed about it. A cold is much easier to endure than what preceded it, and shouldn't keep me down for more than a couple of days. It did mean that I couldn't visit with Dad, today of all days.

Last night, after visiting Dad, D and I stopped briefly at Barnes & Noble. This was around 5:30, and they were closing at 6:00, so there really wasn't time for a good book run; instead, I decided to check out the music section, pick up a few CDs. Sadly, it seems that they no longer have a music section. Rats. Tomorrow or the next day for books.

I'm just lazing around the house today, reading McCullough's book on the Johnstown Flood and eating D out of house and home. D is out at the home at the moment. He's tried calling me a few times, but I seem to have difficulty working these newfangled "cell-phones".... Our most successful contact has been via the LogMeIn connection between his iPad and the laptop I'm typing these words on. Conversation via NotePad....

Ah well. Dolce far niente....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Well, we're all back on our feet again. About half the clan went down at one point or another, and some of us are still dealing with aftereffects. (Me? GI upset and piles are an ugly combination....) But we managed to have another of the annual get-togethers yesterday: E and her husband took D and me to dinner at Outback, and we took Dad a bagged meal of their salmon, potatoes, and cheesecake afterward. (I didn't have too much appetite, but did manage to devour a very good pork chop and a mound of garlic potatoes.)

It'll be quiet the next few days - the other clan members are getting together with various combinations of in-laws. On the second, C will have us up for a combined birthday dinner (hers is the third, mine the fourth), and another is scheduled with E and her husband for the fourth. Somewhere in there, if time, weather, and health get their acts together, I'll make my annual visit to Barnes & Noble. Other than that, I'm relaxing, rereading the Dresden Files (and reading Cold Days, which was my gift-exchange present), and watching the raindrops fall....


Dec. 19th, 2012 04:24 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
The first two days of my California trip were pleasant: the family get-together and gift exchange on Saturday, followed by a long and quiet visit with Dad on Sunday. The days since... have not been so pleasant. The family has been hit by a mini-epidemic of flu; more than a quarter of us have fallen victim. (Fortunately, Dad is not among them; letting this bug loose in an old-folks' home would be, frankly, criminal.)

I was among the first afflicted, awaking at 1AM Monday with severe dual-action GI distress. I'll spare you the messy details, but here are some of Monday's highlights:
- Passing out in the bathroom, and coming to on my back like a beetle, with my legs curled and cramping furiously. (The noise of my fall awakened D, who came running; things got considerably less bad at that point.)
- The sensual pleasure of sitting on a stool in the shower, letting that motherwarm spray cascade over me. (God, that felt good; and it suppressed the GI war as well, at least for a while. This is one of D's nostrums.)
- Slurping down a bowl of chicken broth, hoping to restore calories and electrolytes, only to puke it all back up half an hour later.

Tuesday was... better. My appetite for solids was nil, and I had a sore throat (presumably from Monday's violence), but vomiting had ceased and I was able to keep down a couple of slices of dry bread and eat most of a bowl of cream of mushroom soup (a longstanding comfort food). Most of my sustenance came in liquid form - milk and OJ mostly. Today has been better still, though I still am well short of being healthy. Unfortunately, now D has succumbed....

This wasn't exactly what I had planned.

San Diego

Dec. 15th, 2012 03:15 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
I arrived safely last night, after an unusually long flight and an equally long layover at LAX. The 21-minute hop from LA to San Diego was kind of anticlimactic after that.... It was raining lightly then, heavily when I woke up (about 3AM Pacific time, 5AM to my unreset internal timer); it's sunny but a little chilly now.

D and I went to see Dad this morning. He seems reasonably well, all things considered; a bit less *there*, perhaps. His caretakers and fellows seem like a nice bunch; we joined them for lunch - a tomato bisque, bread, and crackers with a couple of different spreads, all quite tasty.

The family gift exchange is this afternoon; we'll be leaving for that in about half an hour. It'll be different without Dad, but C thinks he'd have trouble dealing with the crowd and the noise. I... trust her judgment on this.

It's going to be an odd Christmas, I think.


Oct. 20th, 2012 07:03 pm
stoutfellow: (Winter)
I had a nice telephone chat with my sister C last night, mostly about Dad. I'd gotten a couple of rather discouraging messages from my brother, and I wanted a second opinion. C had been to see Dad Wednesday night; she reassured me that, though Dad is frail, has lost weight, and - in her professional opinion - will probably never walk again, still, he's in good spirits, his mind is clear, and the effort involved in using and getting in and out of his wheelchair is building up his arm and leg strength. One or another member of the family visits him pretty much every day; he knows the schedule, and gets upset if someone misses. When I'm in California for the holidays, I figure I'll try to see him daily. The man's ninety-three; who knows how much longer we'll have him? C tells me the grand- and great-grandkids get out there from time to time too, which is good; they are, I think, his greatest remaining joy. He deserves as much of that as he can get.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
I thought I'd say a little about what's been happening since my father's accident. Basically, he's 93 years old, and there've been complications; he's going to need a caretaker 24/7 from now on, and none of us are in a position to provide that. We - or rather, those of the family who are actually on the spot (I can't do much from 2000 miles away) - are looking into managed care, and my sister O tells me they have some good possibilities, which they'll be checking out this weekend.

Anyway, I wanted, again, to thank those of you who offered support back when this first happened, and to update you on the situation.


Jul. 25th, 2012 02:19 pm
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
My father had an accident a few days ago - I haven't gotten the details yet - and messed up one of his lumbar vertebrae. He's going to be in a nursing home for a couple of weeks; good thoughts would be appreciated.


Jul. 25th, 2012 01:54 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Whew. We had a few days respite from triple-digit temperatures, but we're back in the middle of an Extreme Heat Warning (Sunday noon to Thursday evening). Right now, according to Wunderground, it's 102F (heat index 111F) out there. I was considering a grocery run today, but... no. I have to go onto campus tomorrow, and I'll pick up some stuff on the way home.

One of my cousins is passing through en route from Florida to Minnesota, and she and her husband will be stopping by to have dinner with me tonight. We've never met face-to-face, although we've talked on the phone a couple of times. I don't know what they'll be in the mood for; I'm hoping that the Red Robin just across 159 will do. I don't eat out much, and wouldn't know what to suggest if they want something fancier.

Ye gods, it's hot.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Well, my vacation is about half over, and I thought I'd check in.

We've had several family get-togethers already: the gift exchange at O's on the 17th, Christmas Eve dinner at E's, and a - rather time-displaced - birthday party at C's yesterday. The best-attended was the gift exchange, with all four generations of the clan present. (I got a copy of Pratchett's Snuff, about which more later, as my gift.) Christmas Eve was delicious, as usual; E's husband D is quite a good cook. (I found, to my surprise, that he's never tried to bake apple pie, and with the zeal of the recent convert I offered to send him a recipe.) I hadn't seen C's new place - she and her husband moved twice in the last twelve months - and the visit there was nice and relaxing. (She had picked up a couple of pairs of pants for me; finding pants in my size is a bit on the difficult side.)

I paid a quick visit to Barnes & Noble on the 18th. I didn't buy a whole lot, but did get half-price hardcover copies of Ghost Story and The Children of the Sky, as well as Charles Mann's 1493, David McCullough's book on the Johnstown flood, and some more F/SF by Charles Stross, Jack McDevitt, Peter Hamilton, Greg Bear, and Poul Anderson.

Snuff is, I think, mid-range Pratchett - not his best work, but good enough. Ghost Story was a good ripsnorter; it was nice to see the supporting cast, especially Molly, strut their stuff. (The main villain's last lethal error reminded me of a recent storyline in "Schlock Mercenary" involving Ensign Ventura....) I'm working my way through The Children of the Sky now, but haven't gotten far enough to have much of an opinion yet. Vinge's usual themes of treachery and child prodigies have already made their appearances.

My brother and I went to see the second Sherlock Holmes movie last week. I realized which story they were going for as soon as Mycroft mentioned the meeting in Switzerland, but it was fun seeing how it developed - and the final clash between Holmes and his opponent was worth the price of admission.

Research is proceeding well; I've gained several useful insights, but the overall picture remains elusive. I hope to give an overview of what I'm doing sometime in the new year.

No word from the dogsitter. I'll take no news as good news, but I am starting to look forward to seeing Buster and Gracie again. (Of course, that will also be the point at which I'll have to respond to queries and complaints about last semester's grades, which I've fobbed off so far on the grounds that I don't have access to the data from 2000 miles away.)

And I guess this year I'll be rooting for New Orleans again, after the Chargers' dismal performance against Detroit on Sunday. :le sigh:


Jun. 6th, 2011 05:52 pm
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
My left ear is acting up again; I can barely hear anything on that side.

I won't be going out to California for my father's birthday party this year. It's a disappointment, but I couldn't make it work.

The more general geodesics-on-prisms problem is beginning to yield some of its secrets, but I remain at a loss for a general theory.

The topology course is going fairly well. Tomorrow we finish up the preliminaries, and the heavy stuff starts.

The weather is abominable - up over 90F, with comparable humidity - and will continue that way for some time to come.

My new office computer has arrived, but the tech won't be able to install it until Wednesday afternoon.

I've had worse Mondays, but I've also had many better ones.

Lazy Days

Dec. 27th, 2010 03:08 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
"Lazy"'s the word, all right. Christmas Eve, Dad, D and I went over to E's for our annual feast and gift exchange. I gave D his gift before we went over; the rest of the gifts were opened there. For D: a DVD with 53 years of MAD Magazine in .pdf format. (I found out this existed via a mention on the American Dialect Society mailing list....) Dad's a little hard to buy for, at his age; I got him a Roger Miller album. (Music, food, and clothes are about the only things he has much use for any more.) For E, a copy of McKinley's Sunshine. (E's the one who introduced me to "Buffy" in the first place, so she should enjoy the book.) Good food, good conversation, only one political argument....

Other than that, it's mostly been hanging around the house. D bought a few DVDs at Barnes & Noble, and we've watched "Despicable Me" and "Toy Story 2". (TS3 is waiting its turn.) I've been working through a reread of Wolfe's The Book of the Long Sun. (I was going to finally read volume 3 of The Book of the Short Sun; I started reading it, decided to backtrack to the beginning of TBotSS, began reading that, and decided I really needed the full story from TBotLS.... There's a reason why, though I think Wolfe is a great writer, I don't read him very often.)

Still poking at the fringes of the same mathematical problem I was working on during the flight out. Some interesting results, I think, but I really need my software to make sure.

Lazy days.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
At least it wasn't raining when my flight came in Saturday evening. Since then, it's scarcely stopped raining.

The flight out was uneventful; I finished reading one book, read most of another, and got a little work done (proved a small theorem and worked an interesting example). The next morning, I hurried over to B&N for a little Christmas shopping prior to the get-together that afternoon. I'd already bought my brother D's gift, and managed to find some good stuff for my father and my sisters.

C and O have already opened their gifts. I got C a DVD of "Gran Torino" - she'd enthused about the movie when it came out, so.... I had the darnedest time remembering the title, though. I was talking to the cashier, trying to give her enough information to identify it and failing miserably. Finally I wandered back to the DVD rack. I was ready to give up and buy her Season 1 of "Meerkat Manor" (c'mon, everybody loves meerkats) when the title finally came to me. I always have trouble buying for O. (Not a dis; I know I'm awfully hard to buy for myself, mainly because, if I want something, generally I go and buy it myself....) I remembered that she'd expressed an interest in Irish music and culture once, so I got her a Chieftains CD.

Dad, D, and E haven't opened theirs yet, so I'll hold off on those.

For the party this year, each of us was instructed to buy a "guy gift" or a "girl gift" (each gender sticking to its own, to make sure there were the right number of each) and send them to O; she wrapped them, guys in red and girls in green, so that no one would know which gift was theirs. Now, I frankly had no idea what a "guy gift" was supposed to be, so I moused around on Amazon and finally came up with a wallet with the Padres logo on it.

Guess which gift I wound up with.

(O realized, a few days before the party, that there was a chance that somebody would get their own gift. D and I had discussed this a bit earlier, and I told him that, well, if you wouldn't like to get the thing you bought, whynell did you buy it? As it happens, this particular likelihood is a standard problem in combinatorics: if the number of people involved is sufficiently large, the probability that no one gets their own gift is very close to 1/e - so the odds are something like 2-1 that somebody will get their own gift. "Sufficiently large" is pretty small: with n people, the probability differs from 1/e by less than 1/n!, so, e.g., five people gets you within 1%, and seven gets you within 0.05%.)

It's supposed to quit raining Thursday.

My father's cleaning lady just brought over some food, so I should probably get offline and try it.


stoutfellow: Joker (Default)

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