Pirates, pants, pets, Python, and Push.

Jun 01, 2009

After many months of near misses and scheduling conflicts, Kyrin finally got Lyssa and I to join him for a Friday evening at Piratz Tavern (8402 Georgia Avenue; Silver Spring, MD; 20910; phone 301-588-9001 to cap off a long work week. Hasufin, Lyssa, and I piled into the TARDIS and set course for Silver Spring around 1900 EST5EDT, which we figured would be late enough to dodge weekend traffic on the Beltway.

It wasn't, actually, but we still made decent time without actually being fashionably late.

Piratz Tavern is a very small, unassuming place on a corner across the street from a Metro station (which makes for good parking in the evening) with a large figurehead of a mermaid wearing nipple tassels (no, I'm not kidding) on the side of the building. I suppose it's as good a navigational landmark as any.

We were greeted by an enthusiastic waiter in what I think was period garb who lead us to the back of the restaurant to the bar shouting "Kyrin! The rest of your victims are here!"

It's good to be recognized once in a while.

In addition to the Toxic Elf were Layla (the belly dancer from our wedding), Pod and Tessa from Baltimore, and a couple of new folks that I hadn't met before (though we appeared to know some of the same people in other circles). We placed our orders after pondering the menu for a while and sat back to shoot the bull for a few hours and wait for our food to arrive. Service was kind of slow that night but business was booming so I suppose that the queue of orders was pretty long. They've got decent food on the menu, a decent selection of drinks both at the bar and on the menu, and surprisingly friendly waitstaff who aren't afraid to chat for a while due to the distinct lack of ninja. Companionship aside, the entertainment wasn't bad, a belly dancer whom Lauren seems to know danced a set or two for us later in the evening. Not being a dancer I can't really comment on her technique or style in any constructive manner. What I can say is that I greatly enjoyed her performance and I wish that she'd had more space to move around in because the back portion of the Tavern (where the bar and long tables are) is actually kind of cramped. What is most striking about the Piratz Tavern is the pirate kitch nailed, glued, or embedded in most every solid surface in the place. From the replica Spanish dubloons embedded in the poured acrylic of the countertops to skulls with glowing eyes to the bladed weapons hanging from the walls, the interior of the place screams Pirates of the Caribbean in an un-Disney-like sort of way.

It's a fun place, actually. I give it two flareguns overall due to service being a bit on the slow side and the uncomfortable wooden seats in the back. The three of us wound up getting home around 0130 on Saturday morning from Maryland; after doing the dishes I headed off to bed while Hasufin sacked out on the couch. I had an appointment in Bethesda so I had to get up at 0900 to get out the door, grab a bite to eat, and make it up there on time. After returning home Lyssa and I set out on a shopping expedition to Macy's to make use of a forgotten gift card to buy a few new pairs of pants to add to my work wardrobe to replace some garments that either no longer fit or are too shabby to wear to work anymore. Once we did what we had to do (which was help me pretend to be an upstanding un-augmented pillar of the community), we then headed off to the local PetSmart franchise to look at potential replacements for Lucy. In stock they had some older hamsters of various breeds (they looked fully grown), some enthusiastic rats of both sexes, a downright neurotic looking black gerbil, a couple of guinea pigs, and a tank full of white lab mice. One of the mice was limping around on three paws and cradling the fourth against its belly - I think the limb in question may have been broken recently and healed improperly. I briefly thought about adopting the mouse just so I could name it Hephaestus.

It could just be my overall negative opinion of the fish at PetSmart (I browse the tanks on the back wall just to count the dead fish stuck in the filters) coloring my recollection of that afternoon but the health of the rodents sold as pets there seems a little questionable to me. You can't tell how old the potential pets are, and given their replicant-like lifespans (hamsters top out at three years, for example) you might get a few months at most out of whatever you rescue adopt. In addition to the aforementioned mouse, one of the rats had what appeared to be an abscess in the process of healing on one of its paws, and on top of all of that I had to take the clerk assisting us to show the injured animals in question. I always thought that a petstore should keep a close eye on the health of its stock.

That said, I've been pondering getting a pair of female dwarf hamsters as pets for a while now but a bit of research leads me to believe that they may not be ideal pets for Lyssa and I. If you don't continually handle them (a couple of times a week at least) they tend to become untamed again after about two weeks, or it's said. They're also not averse to jumping out of your hands to escape rather than taking advantage of opportunities as they happen by to go walkabout, something that often leads to impact-related injury. For this reason, keeping them in a cage rather than a tank is inadvisable but that poses its own unique set of problems. Unfortunately, Lyssa's allergies are such that she can't spend a whole lot of time around cats without incurring an asthma attack, so that rules out anything that can't be kept in a cage. Neither of us are dog people, really, and she's not a fan of small crustacea (much to my chagrin). Fish are nice but they're not particularly friendly.

While at PetSmart we ran into Hasufin who was stocking up on supplies for the cats that he and MIka rent their house from, and swiftly found ourselves sidetracked by the two cats (healthier than everything else in the store) at the front of the building who were there from a local animal shelter. More specifically, we were sidetracked by the felines themselves who were more interested in coming out to see us than in dinnertime. We made tentative plans to get dinner on Saturday evening and went our separate ways for a couple of hours. Lyssa holed up and wrote while I spent some more time hacking on code for my NIA, which I'll get to in a bit. Somewhen around 2300 EST5EDT the three of us headed to Amphora to meet up with Mika, Cindy, and Mike, whom most of us haven't seen in a couple of months. Somehow we wound up trading anime convention war stories, and I think Mike has us all beat due to his having been management of Katsucon for a couple of years.

It would appear that this weekend soundly trounced our sleep schedules because Lyssa and I woke up around 1300 EST5EDT on Sunday afternoon. One supposes that we needed the sleep. Thus, we had a late breakfast (around 1700) and spent the day lounging around the apartment working on our respective projects. I spent about eight hours hacking around on a new OCZ NIA project, an application written in Python that takes a text file of data captured with my NIA number dumper utility and converts the contents into a six channel EEG trace using PyStripchart. In theory it's pretty simple: plot each data point on a graph starting at time t=0 until there are no more data points. In theory. When you get right down to it it's a lot harder than I thought to develop a graphical application. I tried my hand at doing so a few times in undergrad and all of them were, to be blunt, disasters. After looking at a couple of PyGTK tutorials on the web and doing the exercises, I discovered that I still don't know what in the hell I'm doing even though I appear to have made a pretty screensaver. The mechanism underlying how a GUI's window works is pretty opaque to me: widgets, events, callbacks, handlers, how to position the damned things... I just don't get it.

It's funny: we take pretty windows, tickyboxes, and buttons to click on for granted every day (yes, even me, CLI junkie that I am) but exactly how they do what they do isn't simple at all. What is it Gibson said - something about simplicity suggesting extreme complexity?

Back and shoulders smarting, Lyssa and I stopped off for a fast dinner at Chipotle and then went grocery shopping at Whole Paycheque to pick up a few essentials and then headed back toward home. Jason came over around 2100 EST5EDT and we debated practical metaphysics for a couple of hours while Lyssa wrote in the office. He cogently observed that, even as weirdos like us go, we're pretty far on the fringe of the fringe in terms of what we do and how we go about it. It's not every day that you can compare states of consciousness to points and locations in the field of a gravitational attractor and the folds thereof and ponder out loud how consciousness could be described as a recieved phenomenon (in the sense of a transmitter and reciever) and what sorts of effects such a thing might have on an organic brain (the reciever of the metaphor) if the gain were turned up too high and it started arcing out under the load. We spent the remainder of the evening watching the movie Push, which was a surprisingly good adventure movie about psychics on the run from J. Random Secret Government Agency. As action movies go it has some decent character development, an interesting storyline that doesn't try to cram too much through your eyeballs, and isn't so far over the top that it got silly. Granted, you have to infer a lot about some of the other kinds psychics from what they do because their abilities aren't actually explained (which cut down on the talking head syndrome, actually). It has a very Conspiracy X feel to it in how the psychics operate and their power levels. While I can't recommend it as a brain candy movie, it is a lot of fun.